Many years ago, it was illegal to leave a hitchhiker stranded, without at least offering a ride. After the population changed attitudes and values and people were getting robbed or murdered, the law was removed from the books. But it is still hard for me to pass a hitchhiker in remote areas of the road system without at least stopping and making the offer of a ride.
So, when driving back from closing our mining camp, late in the Autumn on a road that is not maintained year around and seeing a person by the side of the road, I slowed down to stop.
Light snow was falling and the wind was blowing it around in swirls on the roadbed as I came across the high tundra above the main Flats far below. I had not seen another vehicle all day and the road would close if this snow continued. The fellow far ahead had jumped down out of the road grader parked off the edge of the road, so I assumed he was the operator. (I know, I know,‘assumed”)
For some reason, I put my handgun on my lap under my jacket and held it in my left hand when I stopped to offer assistance.
The fellow jumped in my old pickup and was shivering badly, not dressed for the weather, wearing a light jacket, no hat, no gloves and no warm boots, just shoes. I was just about to let my handgun rest in my lap, to make shifting gears easier, when he slid across the seat until his knee was pressed against my thigh and one hand was on the seat back, touching the back of my neck.
I kept the gun in hand and shifted awkwardly but trying not to show how scared I suddenly was. He started fiddling with my hair and asked me if I was ever afraid of getting raped.
I pulled my gun up, cocking it as I raised it, aimed directly at him and said, “Not really.”
I thought the man was going to go right through my door he slid back across the seat so fast. I was driving at a fairly good speed by now and he hugged the door for the next 25 miles, until we reached the turn off for a small town. I held the gun on him the entire 25 miles, he kept his mouth shut and hugged the door. The gun had a hair trigger, so if one bump or rattle went wrong, this story would have had a different ending. When I slowed down at the turn, he had the door open and didn’t even wait for me to completely stop, he bailed out.
If that was supposed to be a pick up line, it was lame. If he actually had intentions to follow through, I have no idea. But since he had not actually done anything but touch me and say something inappropriate and stupid, I had no evidence to turn him in to the Troopers in town. At that time, having a concealed weapon was illegal, so I would probably have been the one in trouble.