Friday night, I hoped to drive home to Houston to surprise Momma for Mother’s day. My good friend Jennifer is in town only for a week til she goes back up north for her fancy smancy medical school rotations. I figured I’d grab a quick cup of joe with her before heading out. I set my target departure time as approximately eight. She had dinner plans with her mom and told me she’d call me afterwards. Brandi and Jess were going to grab a bite to eat so I told them I’d join them since they’re both moving away from Austin soon too. So bad timing had me leaving for dinner just when Jennifer called to tell me she was done with dinner.
All this on top of my losing track of time catching up with Jennifer had me leaving 2 hours after my desired target time. Which meant I had to call my parents and ruin the surprise. I wanted to alert them that I’m coming in so they don’t set the alarm if they’re going to bed. This I think would also help save my life. What if I snuck in and set off the alarm and THEN my dad shoots me thinking I’m a burglar?! So yes. I had hoped to surprise momma, but I ended up having to call and tell her anyway.
I made pretty good time and arrived in Houston at midnight. It dawned on me that my car was DIRTY. It’s a pretty shade of blue but with all the pollen and my idea of a car wash is to wait for rain, the car looked like it was a mustardy yellow color. I could not let my parents see my car this dirty! They’d be convinced that I cannot take care of myself and therefore must live back home. I then embarked on a gas station crawl in Houston trying to find a car wash. Surprisingly a handful of these gas stations do not have working car washes! Also, as I’ve never been to a gas station after dark alone before, I noticed that most of these gas stations have window service. They close off their stores and talk to you through a window to ensure their safety. I’m assuming a lot of these windows are bullet proof too.
Anyway, one of these gas stations did not have a window. So I walked inside and instantly it striked me as an eerie gas station. Quiet. No one was behind the counter. I’m peering around and all of a sudden, I hear a voice.
I audibly gasped and looked around to try to find the voice. There was this short peculiar man sitting behind the counter a little off to the side. He had black hair in an unflattering bowl cut, spectacles, and fishy, blotchy looking wet skin. It looked a little…. raw. His skin. With pinkish splotches. Creepy appearance.
“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry I scared you. Are you scared?”
I stammer when I’m nervous. Did he really just call me sweetheart?
“Oh uh. No. Hi. Car wash. I need a car wash. Do you have a working carwash?”
He started to walk out from behind the counter which kind of alarmed me.
“Aww, sweetheart, my car wash is not working…”
By this time he’s now standing before me and he extended a hand as if to ask for a handshake.
Against my better judgement and out of politeness and surprise, I put my hand into his.
“I’m sorry I scared you…”
THEN HE TRIED TO PULL ME INTO A HUG!!!
The gas attendant guy with fishy scaly looking skin was trying to give me, a stranger, who just wanted a car wash, a HUG!!?
Thankfully, I snapped out of my daze and resisted, shaking my head and verbally told him no.
Then I bolted. Not as fast as I should have. I should have RAN out but my walk was pretty damn calm despite my being completely stunned and freaked out.
The next day, I managed to have a little bit of free time after shopping and eating with momma, I met up Kim for some cupcakes. I told her this story kind of incredulously but also in a nonchalant “Oh my god, you wouldn’t believe the kook I ran into..” kind of way. Her reaction was a surprising one to me. She was stunned that I would go around gas stations in the middle of the night in the first place and she was also a little surprised that I shook this guy’s hand. I think her words were exactly this, “they should not be walking out from behind the counter!” Her alarm jolted me back into reality and I then remember my parents sending me newspaper articles of gas station murders and armed robberies (My parents used to send me sensational newspaper articles in hopes that it would scare me into doing what they thought was best. For example, I used to get cut out articles of drunk driving accidents (not that I drive drunk!) when I first left for college and started going out to bars.)
It took Kim’s alarm to get me to give this story a second glance. That is kind of a stupid thing I was doing. I didn’t even need gas!
I told Mary Ellen the story and I preface it with how Kim made me realize I was kind of being dumb and she was stunned and told me I need to hone my self preservation instincts.
So I promise not to roam gas stations in the middle of the night ever again.
Let this be a reminder to ya’ll to do the same. Be safe!