It is the spring of 1998. It is the middle of the night along a desolate highway as a young engaged couple speed along. The young woman is asleep in the passenger seat dreaming of picking out fabric for her wedding gown with her soon to be mother-in-law the next day. Her seat is laid back. She awakes as the car comes to a stop. The young man looks at her and says, "I need to use the restroom. Keep the doors locked." As he jumps out of the car, the young woman thinks to herself, "He doesn't worry about car doors being locked. That's strange."
She lifts herself up to look around. As she looks out the side window she looks directly into a car parked one space over. In the car is a man and he is looking directly at her and in that moment instinct tells her, "This is not right. He is up to no good." She lays back down immediately, heart pounding as her mind fills with fear. As she pulls the seat up, the man in a long black trench coat is in front of her car walking to the bathroom. He does not take his eyes off of the young woman as he walks past the car. She is frozen with fear because she knows where he is going and fears she knows what he is up to.
She watches him disappear into the men's restroom and while praying over and over in her head, slides into the driver's seat, fumbles with the outdated car phone with shaking hands. She dials 9-1-1 and tells the operator what is happening. The operator asks where she is and she replies, "I was asleep. I know we already passed through Fort Wayne but not quite to Ohio on US 30. " The operator isn't sure she can help but says she will alert the patrols who are out to stop at rest stops in that vicinity to check on things. The young woman knows that help is not quickly on it's way.
The young woman is frantic as the man in the trench coat does indeed come out. He walks to his car, gets in and watches her. The young woman is hysterical as she watches and waits for the young man but he doesn't come. She doesn't know what to do but realizes the safest place is in the car with the doors locked and the key in the ignition not running to the bathroom to look for the young man. She makes a plan in her head. If the man in the trench coat heads for her, she will take matters into her own hands and use her car as a weapon of defense if she must.
After what seems to be an eternity the young man appears and rapidly approaches the car, jumps in and she throws the car into reverse, backs up and speeds off, with tears streaming down her face and hands shaking uncontrollably. It takes almost an hour for her to stop looking in her rear view mirror for headlights following them, but there are none.
The young man tells her he went into the stall in the bathroom, heard the man in the trench coat come in soon after. He went into the stall next to him and things were silent. The young man heard no noises and he was unsure what to do as he felt this stranger was up to no good. He then heard the man in the trench coat leave and all the young man could think of was the young woman alone out in the car. The young man flew out of the bathroom to the car, thankful that they were both safe within the car and it's locked doors.
He apologized to the young woman as he felt that something wasn't right that night on the desolate highway. He vowed to never stop at a rest stop in the middle of the night again.
And to this day Hubby has done no such thing and if he even thinks about it, I quickly remind him that the side of the road is a safer option after our experience 12 years ago.
I honestly with all of my heart know the power of prayer protected both of us that night 12 years ago. Hubby and I had no doubt in our minds that this stranger had awful plans for that night. In fact we scoured the newspaper and news the next day to see if anything had happened but thankfully found nothing.
It was a terrifying thing and to this day, I haven't had a moment like it. I am thankful for that! I do know that my instincts were kicking in high gear and screaming that things were not right. Listen to those instincts. They were given to us for a reason. Sometimes we think we may be assuming too much but I believe it is safer too assume to0 much and be safe, rather than to muffle those instincts and pay an awful price.
My heart is racing again even as I think back on that night.....