>In continuing my series on stories from my past, I am not going to continue to write in a chronological order. Rather, just stories that I recall or I that I think are worth repeating. This leads me to today’s story.
Back in the early 90’s I was living in quaint little town in Montana. Bozeman was my birthplace. And because of that, I think it held a special romantic place in my heart. It is a nice little town. There are mountains in every direction. In the summer, the high temperature hardly ever hits 90. And in the winter, which I swear starts in October, hardly ever gets warmer than 20.
My mother came to visit over Independence day. It gave her a chance to enjoy the town she grew up in. It was a fun time that included lots and lots of fireworks.
The story truly begins on our ride to Idaho Falls to take my mom back home. The journey began quietly enough with a leisurely drive through the Gallitin Canyon area into West Yellowstone. After turning right out of West Yellowstone, we only managed to drive about 500 yards out of town when the traffic came to a complete standstill. A tiny little Suzuki Samurai decided to play chicken with a Deisel truck carrying hazardous chemicals. The Suzuki did not fair very well and the drivers were critically injured. The truck on the other hand, faired a little better but leaked chemicals all over the road. Thus began our wait. We waited, and waited, and waited some more. The hazmat team had to be called up from Idaho Falls to clean up the mess. West Yellowstone is about 200 miles away from Idaho Falls, so of course we had to sit there and wait for the team to arrive and then wait for the team to clean up the mess.
Eventually the mess was cleaned up and the disabled vehicles towed away. After 3 hours of being parked in a long line of cars on a highway in the middle of the woods, were began moving again. But, this journey was about to take a turn for the very strange.
We had been crusin down the road in my little Chevette for about 30 miles, drinkin Pepsi and listening to some groovy tunes when the odd day, became even more bizarre. While driving through the Henry Flats, I noticed a little station wagon coming up to the highway. He stopped for a short moment and then decided to cut out in front of me. His timing was such that there was no physical way I could have slowed down fast enough to avoid slamming into the back of it.
I swerved into the oncoming traffic to avoid the unavoidable and swung back into the correct lane in front of the little wagon. I was a little annoyed, but far from road rage.
Now my little car was not known for its speed. It wasn’t even known for its good looks. It was however, known for being propelled down the road by my larger than average size stereo. But it did not have much acceleration. On top of that, I am not a big fan of inviting cops to pull me over and present me with little pieces of paper. So I generally try to drive very close to the speed limit. This fact must have ticked the driver of the little wagon off, because he kept creeping closer and closer to my little “vette“. At one point I looked into my mirror and found the wagon to be less than a foot away from bumper.
I decided to do what any responsible driver would do. I “lightly” tapped on my brakes to let him know I was uncomfortable with how close he was following me. I think he interpreted my brakes more along the lines of”…look you jack ass get away from my car.” Honestly his interpretation was probably more correct. All the time, my mom sat patiently in her seat watching me deal with the situation.
The driver did back off and gave me space, or so I thought. Just 90 seconds later, my mom and I experience a very hard jolt that knocked us forward in a very violent manner. my mom looked at me and asked if we had blown a tire. I told her no and that the guy behind us had just rear ended us. She turned around to look at him, then turned to me and informed me that he had just flipped her off.
I looked in the mirror just in time to see him press on the throttle and rear end us again. All this time we driving down the highway at 55 miles per hour. I was confused and didn’t have a clue of what to do. One more time his front bumper met my rear end. It became very clear that this man meant business and he had reached the point of road rage.
By this time we had hit a section of road construction. I found a place to pull over and figured it best to do so before he forced me over. I pulled over and told my mom to lock the doors. We had nothing in our car to protect ourselves, save an old license plate! As my mom was reaching for the license plate, the driver of the little wagon came charging up to the drivers side door. He began punching my poor little plexi-glass window and telling me to get out. He was mad at what I had done to him “back there” and he was intent on kickin the sh** out of me. For whatever reason, I decided it best to open the door before he broke my window. I slowly unlocked the door and opened it as the smell of alcohol began to fill my nostrils. He told me to get out because he was going to teach me a lesson. I asked him to explain to me just what I had done and why he was so upset. He couldn’t really elaborate on what I had done that was so bad, he just kept on telling me that he was going to “teach me a lesson”.
Unbeknownced to me, my mother was trying to get out of the car during my conversation with the living beer can. Suddenly, the man reached his hand through the car and pointed at my mom. He told her that she better stay put or he was going to come around and kick her a** as well. At that point, the mama bear instinct took over and my mother looked at him and said “You just try it”. Now here is this drunk man screaming profanities at a women who was almost twice his age and half his size. The funny part was, that the woman who was twice his age and half his size was screaming profanities back!!! All the while the man was trying to get in and the mama was trying to get out. By the grace of God (for the driver), the door was locked and my mom’s adrenaline was flowing so fast that she could not figure out to unlock the door.
Thank God, my brain kicked in. At that moment my brain said “hey stupid, get out of there!” I said “Good idea!”. I popped the clutch and spit gravel in the drunkards face. I took off as fast as my little Chevette would allow me to go (which was about 60mph). My decision was quick and fast enough that it left the driver of the little red wagon stunned and unable to comprehend for a moment, that he was standing on the side of the road…alone. By the time he was able to get back in his car, we had made it a fair distance down the road and he was never able to catch up. We did not loosen our grip on the license plate until we pulled into our garage.
So all this to say….Chevettes may be small, but they hold a special place in my heart.