My employer asked me to do some work in a rural area of southwest North Dakota on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t mind, I had already worked 48 hours this week, this would all be overtime hours at 1-1/2 times my normal hourly pay.
There are different vehicles that I own, that I use for different things. Right now, one of my biggest concerns is taking the vehicle that has the best air-conditioning because it is so hot outside. This means switching things I need from one vehicle to another, ice-chest, tools, flashlight, jump-start box, phone charger, clothing, firearms.
I always try to have a firearm with me, and this day I was taking a small .32 caliber Beretta Tomcat which fits inside my pants pocket. I don’t like wearing waist holsters, especially when I have a long drive because the holster or the pistol grip pokes into my side. Later in the day I put this Beretta Tomcat pistol in the center-console of my truck, which I regretted later that night.
I took Interstate 94 heading east from Dickinson, and then had to drive south. My work at the job location on Saturday went fine, but my feet, hips, and back were hurting. I didn’t finish work to go home until 11:30 p.m. that night. Because I was not in a hurry, instead of driving north to get back to Interstate 94, and then heading west back to Dickinson on the interstate, I was going to drive west on Highway 21, and then north on Highway 22.
When I got to the town of Mott, North Dakota, which has a population of about 800 people, it was 12:10 a.m. If you don’t know what rural North Dakota is like, every business had closed by 10:00 p.m., and there are very few businesses.
I was kind of angry because Highway 21 did not continue west through Mott, I couldn’t understand why not, and the highway signs in Mott were very unclear or non-existent. Near the crossroads of Highway 21 and Highway 8, I pulled over and stopped in order to look up a map of Mott on my phone to figure out how to get to Highway 21 going west.
There were no businesses open, and no cars on the streets or highway. My plan was to figure out how to get to Highway 21, and then urinate beside my truck. As I was doing a Google search for maps on my phone, I looked up, and I could see some person who was fucked-up about 75 feet away headed to my vehicle.
This person was stumbling along like a zombie, like they were drunk, high, mentally-ill, or physically disabled, or a combination of these things. I took my truck out of park, and immediately drove away in order to get away from this person who was approaching my vehicle. I watched this person in my side mirror as I drove away, they were acting strange like there was something wrong with them. I drove about 1/4 mile away so that I could try again to look up a map on my phone.
I was angry and kind of unnerved about that messed-up person coming out of nowhere and approaching my vehicle at 12:20 a.m. If they had knocked on my truck window while I was looking down at a map, it would have scared the shit out of me. It would have been even worse if they had tried to open my truck door, and even worse still if they had come up behind me when I was urinating beside my truck.
This person may have been drunk and merely walking home from a bar that had closed, but if this person had come up behind me while I was outside of my truck without me seeing them or hearing them, and proceeded to grab hold of me, knock into me, or climb into my truck, it could have resulted in me shooting them.
In a drunk person’s mind, coming up behind a person and shoving or pushing them out of the way to try to get into their truck, or take their truck, or wrestle with them, is just playing around. To me, not knowing or seeing that someone is approaching , and that person grabs hold of me, starts wrestling with me, or tries to get into my truck, to me it’s a robbery, mugging, or car-jacking. I don’t know what this person’s intentions were.
When I stopped under a street light at a gas station parking lot about 1/4 of a mile away and tried to get a map of Mott on Google, within a few seconds here comes a 30 year old beat-up Chevy truck with no headlights on, driving about 5 mph over to where I am. So I had to drive somewhere else again.
Now, I was starting more to get the impression that if you come to a stop in Mott late at night, people come creeping out of the dark thinking that you want to buy, sell, or use drugs with them.
I was very angry and upset. I just wanted to take Highway 21 through Mott to get to Highway 22. I didn’t want to stop in Mott, but I had to because Highway 21 doesn’t continue through Mott, you have to take Highway 8 going south for more than several miles, then Highway 8 forks off into Highway 21. But there are no highway signs explaining this routing, there were hardly any highway signs or road signs at all.
I am 52 years old now, I have driven all over the U.S. I have driven through some very bad high-crime areas in Tampa, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, and west Texas, that I can remember giving me a very bad feeling about how dangerous the area was. Some states that I lived in like Arizona, Utah, and Idaho I don’t ever recall being in an area that felt unsafe.
Having to come to a stop in Mott late at night, where Highway 21 comes to an end without any explanation, without any highway re-routing signs, no lighting, no street signs, no businesses open, and derelict people coming out of the dark approaching my vehicle to sell/buy/use drugs or rob me, that was the most dangerous seeming place I have been in a long time.