Road trips can be fun, but can also go very wrong, very fast. Being miles away from home during a crisis is everyone’s worst nightmare. Here, people share the craziest thing that happened during a stop that nearly put the entire road trip in jeopardy.
The Wrong Hotel
“A year ago my brother was graduating from Army basic training in South Carolina. At the time, I was stationed in Texas, but I wouldn’t miss my brother’s graduation for the world. So, my wife and three sons packed up and made plans for the sixteen hour drive.
We had planned to stop at a hotel in Alabama, but we were smack dab in the middle of Mississippi when my youngest son decided he didn’t want to spend a moment longer in his car seat. Thankfully, we were able to cancel the reservations for the room we had in Alabama and found a nice hotel at the nearest rest area. It was late when we checked in, but we were able to get into a room with no problem. The room we were given was on the opposite side of the building so we drove around and parked in a vacant spot before hopping out with our stuff.
That night I had some of the best sleep in the world, but probably not as good as my youngest son who was just relieved to be out of the car seat. The next morning we overslept. There was still two more days before my brother’s graduation, so there was still plenty of time. However, when I started carrying our duffel bags outside, I made the long walk down the hallway and outside before an overwhelming sensation took over me. Something just wasn’t right.
‘Where the hell is my car?’ I asked.
I began to walk toward where we parked our car but was confused when I didn’t see it. I was so sure I had parked much closer, but our car had completely vanished. I walked around the parking lot several times before it dawned on me that my car had been taken from the lot at some point during the night.
I could feel my heart in my throat when I came back to the room. My wife was confused when she saw I still had the duffel bags. I didn’t have the heart to tell her right away that our car was gone, so I told her and the kids to wait there while I went to the front desk to ‘handle something.’
When I approached the front desk, the employee nonchalantly listened to me ramble on about my car being missing from the lot. I asked her if she could check the cameras to see who might have taken our car so I could start calling the police, but the woman casually shrugged and said, ‘No, your car was towed last night.’
‘What for?’ I asked maybe a little too aggressively.
‘You were parked in a no parking zone,’ she said as she rolled her eyes. Then she handed me a business card for the towing company. I tried arguing with her that it was very late and I didn’t even see any signage saying I couldn’t park in the spot I chose, but it was like talking to a brick wall.
To make matters worse, all the walking around killed so much time that our check out was coming up in thirty minutes. There was no way I would be able to recover the car in time before then. With my head hung low, I returned to the room and explained to my wife what had happened. She was understanding but just as frustrated as me. I went downstairs to observe the ‘no parking’ space only to find that the signage painted on the parking lot was so faded, there was no way we could have seen it with the brightest pair of headlights.
Calling the towing company was easy enough, but they wanted to charge me six-hundred bucks and I had to drive to their yard that was fifteen miles in the opposite direction to retrieve my car. Right when I was about to give up, a man approached me and asked if I needed a lift. I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall, but apparently he had been in the lobby and overheard my conversation with the woman at the front desk. I know I probably shouldn’t have hopped on his offer as quickly as I did, but I had my wife and kids to think about. I shot my wife a text message and told her to check out but stay in the lobby until I got back.
On the way there, I learned that the guy’s name was Shawn and he was in Mississippi for a business trip. I would tell you more, but it was so hard for me to focus on a word he said just because of the situation. When we got to the tow yard, Shawn was even kind enough to wait for me to make sure I was actually able to get my car out. Luckily they had an ATM at the ready. I would worry about to hit to my bank account later. I paid for my car, and slid Shawn an extra two hundred bucks just to thank him. Then I sped back to the hotel so we could get the hell out of that God forsaken state.
After we attended the graduation, we did not stop in Mississippi except to get gas.”
Wrong Place, Right Time
“Some buddies and I planned a road trip to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara, California. We knew we could have flown there in an hour but we decided to make it a big deal and take the scenic route since it was our first time going.
About three hours into the drive, I realized I really had to use the bathroom, so I asked my friend to pull over at the next rest area we came across. We ended up at a random gas station before I hopped out and made a bee line for the restroom. When I walked in, there was a guy standing in front of the register and two other customers waiting in line. I casually said, ‘Hey guys, what’s up?!’ before shutting the door behind me.
Once I was finished, I came out and say that the cashier was crying hysterically, while the two other customers were frantically talking on the phone. Confused, I asked what was going on. That’s when one of the customers told me that the guy that I passed by had been holding to store at gun point as I walked in. Horrified, I asked if everyone was okay. Other than the cashier being so shaken up that someone else had to call the police, everyone was fine. I imagined that if I had showed up just slightly earlier, I also would have been a hostage. I honestly don’t even know why the guy didn’t acknowledge me as well, but I’m also grateful because the customer told me that after I went to the restroom, the guy finally ran out.
I don’t know if they ever found him, but I’m confident to say that was the craziest stop on a road trip I ever had even though I wasn’t sure what was going on.”
You’ve Got The Wrong Woman!
“Before I broke up with my ex, I would occasionally drive twelve hours just to see him. I know this was incredibly dumb of me, especially because he didn’t make the same trip not once, but that’s besides the point.
I’ll never forget the one time I had to stop for gas and ended up at a gas station with a Wendys attached to it. I was getting pretty hungry so I ended up pulling my car to the front of the building so I could run inside to grab something to eat. When I got in, I ordered something from the dollar menu and stood off to the side as I waited. Once I got my food, I started making my way back to my car but froze when I saw a police car blocking me in with the lights on.
I knew I had nothing on me and I was sure I hadn’t done anything wrong, but my instincts alerted me that there was something off. I summoned the courage to go outside. Initially I pretended not to care about the cop’s presence, but that’s when he yelled at me from the car.
‘Show me your hands!’ the cop hollered.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw he had a gun pointed at me. I quickly threw my food bag on the hood of my car and threw my hands up.
‘On the ground! On the ground!’ the cop shouted again.
Once I was on the ground, a different cop approached me and demanded me to give him my keys. I wanted to ask what was happening, but my mouth was so dry with fear I quickly thought against it. I heard them open all my doors and the trunk. Finally, the cops told me I could get up. When I asked what was wrong, they told me that apparently my car and appearance matched the description of an ongoing amber alert.
I was so shaken up by the ordeal that I canceled plans with my ex and started the long trek back home home. My road trip was ruined but at least I came home in one piece.”