I woke up early without my alarm. I guess that should've been my first clue. Normally I like to sleep in when I can so when my body's like "Yeeeeeah! Up and at em, Sparky!" at 4:30 in the morning that should've been a sign. Instead I took as logical since I wanted to get to the Dallas area early. Parking is nearly impossible anywhere near there so the earlier the better.
Turns out that any time after Friday is just plain bad. Getting there at 1:45 on a Sunday really wasn't the way to go. I'd stopped at 3 different truck stops when I got close.
The first was a Loves in Rockwall. As I pulled in a truck was vacating a spot. That was the only available spot but I was still at the entrance when I saw a truck already setting up to back into that opening. Figures.
So I kept on going. A mile down the road is a TA truck stop. I knew it was laughable but I had to try. First, allow me to explain that this truck stop is already on my "in case of emergency...STILL try to avoid this mess" list. Yeah yeah, it's a long name for a list but there are several truck stops on it. Like the Pilot just east of Baton Rouge. Both of these places are horrible. Even tornadoes would skip them. Sadly.
Anyway, so I get to the TA and circle the lot. Yes, you've gotta circle like vultures in these places. Or like sharks sensing blood in the water. I circle and I pray. And I'm not the praying type so that's gotta tell you something.
There it is! One open spot. A reserved parking spot. A few of the greedier truck stops like TA and Petro have started doing that, putting in "reserved" spots. These used to be regular parking spots but those corporate leeches found a way to make more money off us since parking is difficult to find. $12.00 for a shower, .35-.50 cents over cost per gallon of fuel, and now $12-$15 just to park. They were also kind enough to put in fast food restaurants like Taco Bell and Burger King and raise the prices above the standard. But I digress.
I go inside and say I see an open reserved spot available and I'd like to take it. Nope. Apparently that spot's already been taken too. Of course. That's my luck.
So now I've no choice but go farther into the Dallas area. This is not going to be good. I already know that. As luck would have it, my trucker GPS found a truck stop about 5 miles from where I need to be in Irving. So that's a plus.
I call them. "Excuse me, my GPS says you guys are a truck stop. Are you an actual full-size truck stop with truck parking?" (Sounds like a stupid question but you'd be surprised how many places aren't really truck stops but "fuel stops" with no parking). "Oh, you are? Excellent. Do you have any parking available?" They don't know. But they were kind enough to let me know it's paid parking. Of course.
So they don't know if they actually have any spots available and they can't give me directions to get there. They can tell me they have a shop, which is good because I need to replace a wheel seal. They just don't know if they have any mechanics on duty.
So I'm thinking "you guys aren't much good to me alive, are you?" And I'm off to play "Where's Waldo" with a truck stop. Good times. I try to follow my truck GPS to get there but it has me taking so many turns, twists, backtracks and loops that it'd give a pretzel vertigo. During the trip I must've let loose more cuss words than an Irishman and Australian arguing. I hate Dallas traffic. Especially so on rainy days like this.
I finally arrive at my destination. Big D's Travel Plaza. Oh boy. The smell alone is probably why there were empty spots. It was an outright attack on my olfactory senses. I was truly shocked not to see a massive pig farm next door since it certainly smelled like there must be.
Since I wasn't sure I'd find parking down in the parking pit they gave us, I parked first. I left my phone in the truck to protect it from the monsoon as I began the half mile hike up to the fuel desk to pay for my parking. I'd like to say they were pleasant people to deal with but they really weren't. And I was already thinking that THEY should be paying US to park here.
Parking pass in hand I started the journey back to my truck. I certainly have no problem walking long distances thanks to my tree trunk looking legs but the long drive, weather and Dallas traffic had worn me down.
So the trip back to my truck was starting to look like a Lord of the Rings kinda journey. I was wishing I'd brought bread and a wine skin. I couldn't even lose myself in the Internet since I'd left my phone in the truck to protect it from the rain. So I just plodded along with my head down, hands in my pockets.
Had I been looking up I probably wouldn't have given a second thought to the pickup truck coming towards me anyway. We see cars in truck stops all the time so it's no big deal. Well, this time it was I guess. They pulled up to me and asked if I wanted to buy DVDs. Again, not unusual at all. You can get some pretty high quality pirated DVDs at truck stops.
I wasn't interested in movies today though so I declined. No, I'm not interested in a tv either. Thanks anyway. These were pretty pushy salesmen though and decided they were gonna make money regardless. Or so the gun indicated when they pointed it at me and said "then I'll take what you got. Gimme your wallet."
Normally I resist being told what to do but I figured I'd better not argue with someone holding a gun.
After a little pleading from me they were kind enough to let me remove my license before surrendering my wallet. That was mighty swell of them. I would've preferred to keep the whole wallet too. That would've been better.
Unfortunately, they decided that the license was my cut and everything else was theirs. I work, they get paid. Ah, so this is the welfare "direct approach". Makes more sense now.
In retrospect I probably could've talked my way into just giving them the $200+ I had in cash and kept my whole wallet. I just wasn't thinking clearly. Guns apparently do that to me. At the time I just asked myself if my life was worth my wallet and its contents and decided it was worth more. Did I overdramatize it in my head at the time? I doubt it. However, I don't know if the gun was loaded or not and figured I didn't want to ask. Hell, I can honestly say I don't even know if it was real. It probably was but, again, does one ask in this situation? I'm not sure what the robbery protocol is. What I do know is that I've got two kids at home that want to see me come home. That and I've gotta stick around so I can share these lovely posts for you guys. Gosh, so much responsibility.
I was told I should've immediately called the police once I got to my truck. I didn't catch the license plate and my only real description was "it was two black guys and a big gun". Sure, in the Dallas area that should narrow it down significantly.
Anyway, what've I learned from this? Mostly that that truck stop really stinks. Both figuratively and literally. I certainly won't be going back there. The worst part? They didn't have milk. Ruins my whole day.
The other thing I learned is that I am, in fact, still indestructible. Notice I'm still here and haven't been destroyed? Clearly that makes me indestructible. Logic. Tada and shit.
Situations like this are rare but I can tell you firsthand that they happen. So the next time you're mad that a truck is in your way or something just remember that if that's the worst part of your day maybe your day isn't so bad.
Now, to address a couple of the questions I've been asked:
A) were you scared?
Seriously?! Of course I was scared. There was a gun pointed at my face. It would totally ruin my future modeling career if I got my face shot off. Was I scared?? The dude ended up with my wallet, didn't he? You do the math.
B) what kind of gun was it?
Big. Is that a make? All I knew was that whatever came out of the hole at the end would probably make me dead or in serious pain. I don't like either of those things. Sorry I didn't think to ask the guy what his weapon of choice was.
C) do you even know if it was loaded?
Um. No. I felt that moment wasn't the appropriate time to discuss with him the importance of gun safety. I do know that if it's loaded and he pulls the trigger it makes a noise but I didn't want to have to identify the gun by its sound or verify its lethality that way.
After a long, less than perfect day, I just headed back to my truck. My pride and finances were injured but I was physically fine. So I made my obligatory phone calls then decided I was just done with the day.