So I was at a stoplight in my neighborhood on my way to work yesterday afternoon when I noticed that the car in front of me — the first in the intersection — had its hazard lights flashing. "Nuts," I thought. "This car's probably stalled." I stopped far enough behind it, but knew I would have a hard time getting around it, because my lane was left-turn-only and the other was right-turn-only. The fact that three or four cars had already congregated behind me was only going to complicate things.
The car had a handicapped license plate. I couldn't see any heads. After a minute or so of trying to squeeze through, I saw a backwards cap bobbing up and down across the front. I suddenly pictured a guy possibly giving CPR to what I assumed might be an elderly driver. When the light turned green and the car didn't move, I (being startled) got out of mine and strode to the front window.
There was no driver. A man about my age with a red beard and alligator skin rolled down the window before I even reached it.
"Is everything OK?" I asked, cautiously.
"Yeah, my mom had to get out and get something. She'll be right back," he said calmly. Oh, OK then. (By the way, I didn't see her.)
"Well," I said, gesturing to what was now six or seven cars, "She's blocking a lot of traffic, so —"
It was as if I flicked a switch. "What, you got a problem with it?" he shouted angrily, yanking off his seat belt and opening his door.
"Nooo," I said as I reflexively jumped back into my car. He had gotten out and taken a couple of steps toward me, but apparently thought better of it, opting to stare at me for a couple of seconds with glowing-red eyes before getting back in his car. Even more cars were backed up behind me now, and the traffic in the right lane had been consistently (and unusually) strong. I was pretty much stuck here, mere feet away from a pissed-off redneck who, for all I knew, had a gun or several.
So I dialed 911 on my cell phone and reported a stalled vehicle, making note of the fact that no one was hurt but that the passenger nearly accosted me when I checked on him.
"What kind of car is it?" the dispatcher asked.
"A Plymouth Neon," I said.
Pause. "Don't you mean a Dodge Neon?"
"No, it's Plymouth."
"Are you sure?"
Yes. The car says both Plymouth and Neon on the trunk. "Plymouth made it before Dodge, I think." Sigh. Every time I call 911...
Right as the call concluded, a woman carrying a gas can walked past me and up to the car. (God only knows where she got gas. Not within two miles, that's for damn sure.) I make note of this to the dispatcher.
"She's going to put gas in the car, I guess. Wait, she's not filling up the tank. She's putting it in the backseat and getting in the car. What?"
"We'll send a police car."
Another green light passes. The two sit motionless in their seats, aside from the occasional hostile gesture in my general direction. Finally, after several cars behind me turn left from the right-turn lane, I manage to negotiate a swerve around the offenders, who shoot me dirty looks as I make my turn. Yeah, I'M the jerk.
How foolish of me to assume that someone was in pain, or that my attempt to find out would result in no explanation and a lot of hostility. Or that, once these trashlings finally got some gas, they'd BOTHER TO PUT IT IN THEIR CAR.
(To be fair, maybe the driver realized there was no gas station and doubled back. But if there's one thing I've noticed in Missouri, it's that people can be literally slack-jawed and completely unaware of their surroundings. So it wouldn't shock me if there actually was gas in the can, or even in the tank, and they just got in their car hoping God would take care of it.)
I'm only glad these people didn't pack heat, because that's one hell of an embarrassing way to die. It's gotta be an even worse way to live.