During this past week, I wrote three blog post articles about a frightening experience that I had when I stopped in the small town of Mott, North Dakota at 12:10 a.m. to read a road map. Twice, someone emerged from the dark vacant street to approach my vehicle and I had to quickly drive away.
I went on and on about how I didn’t know what these people who approached my vehicle intended to do, I probably would have shot them if they had jumped inside my truck, I hadn’t been paying enough attention to my surroundings, why can’t the North Dakota DOT mark the routing for Highway 21 West with road signs so people don’t have to pull over in Mott to look at a map.
A person named Ray who lives in Maryland, who had been a long-haul truck driver for fifteen years, he wrote a comment a couple of days ago saying that in his experience, one of the most frequent places to be the victim of a robbery and/or assault is at a gas station while pumping fuel, getting out of your truck at a rest area, or using the public bathrooms at a rest area.
I believe that Ray pointed out, that while pumping fuel at a gas station, you have your hands full with the fuel hose and nozzle, and you are watching the pump to see how many gallons of fuel you are getting. At this moment, you are occupied with what you are doing, and aren’t able or inclined to drop what you are doing and walk away.
Today, Saturday afternoon, I went to a hardware store on the north side of Dickinson to buy several different bolts that were missing from a 1972 Yamaha motorcycle that I had just bought. I had to remove bolts from the motorcycle, take them inside the store, determine what size and thread series they were, buy something that was as close as possible to identical, and then go back outside and see if it fit correctly on the motorcycle, which I had in the back of my truck.
I had to go in and out of the hardware store about four times. On the fifth trip inside the store, some of the last things that I needed were 2-cycle motor oil, Heet fuel line water remover, and an engine air filter. When I found almost everything and went to the cashier to pay, there was an elderly gentleman who had decided that he would discuss a store catalogue of shelves with the cashier, not ask his questions to one of the two unoccupied floor-walkers, but take his time with the only cashier on duty. So I put the items that I needed down and I left, I couldn’t stand waiting and watching this unbelievable shelf consultation any longer.
I was hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty, but the next place that I went was a very busy auto parts store, where I bought the 2-cycle motor oil, and the Heet, but I forgot to buy a drink because I was trying to see if they had an engine air filter for my motorcycle. I made up my mind that I was going to go home, not look for an engine air filter anymore today, because I didn’t want to be around people anymore, I was in a bad mood.
I drove south, and I had to stop at the T-Rex Gas Station in the T-Rex Shopping Plaza to get fuel in my truck. The T-Rex Gas Station is in the middle of Dickinson, and it is one of the cleanest, safest gas stations in Dickinson. I parked on the outside of the very last gas pump, because I didn’t want to be around people, and I didn’t want to be blocked in.
After I had scanned my debit card, entered my debit card pin, got the pump to turn on, and began filling my truck tank, I noticed a man about 45-50 years of age, wearing an orange high-visibility construction worker shirt, walking across Main Avenue, yelling and ranting, heading in the general direction of this gas station.
From the middle of Main Avenue, and for the whole time he was walking, he did not cease yelling, cursing, and ranting. The first things that I could understand what he was saying, was something like, “They took everything from me, they took all of my shit.” I didn’t know if he had just been robbed, kicked out of where he lived by his housemates, if he had been evicted, or what.
It was hot outside, it must have been very uncomfortably hot walking on the street and pavement, especially if something bad had just happened to you, like you had all of your shit stolen. This guy continued to yell and curse, and he was now headed straight for me, with his fists clenched, his jaw clenched, the veins in his neck popping out.
From what he was yelling, it kind of appeared that he was looking to fight anyone that he came across at that moment. I was not in a good mood. I was not wanting to be approached by any pan-handlers asking for money, or anyone wanting to start an altercation. I became kind of enraged myself, to where I was not going to wait for this guy to get to me, I was wanting to beat the shit out of this guy before he even got to me. I thought what board or pipe did I have in the back of my truck to beat him with.
This guy changed course about 75 feet from me, and headed north. He began yelling, “I don’t care if I die, I don’t want to live anymore.”, and who knows what all else he was yelling. I was upset about this incident, this guy yelling non-stop, coming at me angrily like he was going to attack me, me wanting to beat the shit out of him, and then hearing him say that he didn’t want to live anymore.
It is not hard to say that this this man was mentally ill, the way that he was ranting the whole while he was walking. The way that he was behaving, the things that he was yelling, I don’t have much doubt that he was wanting to fight whoever he came across. Did he want to hurt someone, did he want to get into a fight, did he want to go to jail because he had no place else to go, did he want someone to hurt him so that he could sue them, did he want someone to shoot him and kill him?
Did he turn away from his approach towards me because he feared losing the fight, being blamed for the fight, or because he realized that the gas station had security cameras?
Even though I had decided 30 minutes prior to this that I was in a bad mood, didn’t want to be around people anymore, didn’t want to keep shopping for an air filter, just wanted to go home, parked at the farthest gas pump to not have to deal with people, if I would have not waited for this guy to walk up on me and hit me while I was between the gas pump and my truck, and knocked him down before he got that far, the Police and maybe even witnesses would have blamed me.
It would not have mattered how much I explained that I was stopped at the gas pump putting fuel in my vehicle, whereas this guy was crossing the street approaching me angrily yelling with clenched fists, he has no vehicle and no gas can, he had no reason to be walking all the way across Main Avenue to get here to this gas pump where I am, except to attack me, the Police Officer would probably arrest me if I knocked this guy down first. I wasn’t going to be slammed to the concrete first, I could see what was about to happen.
In the past, I have seen some mentally-ill strange acting people at the gas stations in downtown Dickinson, but usually not ever at this T-Rex gas station. I thought about it, the gas station beside the new Family Fare grocery store, on the north side of the interstate, near Menards, this gas station is not within a residential area, and has probably the least amount of pedestrians nearby, and probably the least amount of low-income people, so I will try to use this gas station from now on.
Note: For the past several years, I have noticed that many women will pull up to a gas pump, and not get out of their vehicle to pump gas until everyone close to them at the other pumps has finished pumping gas, gotten back in their vehicle, and left. I used to think that these women were being ridiculous, no one is going to grab hold of them and try to abduct them. Now I kind of see how they feel, they don’t want to be in the middle of pumping gas and have someone take this opportunity to approach them. Now that I think about it, many of these women get back inside their vehicle while the pump is running, they won’t even stand outside their vehicle.