I drove by myself from home to Sioux Falls, SD for Kathy Jackson’s Cornered Cat Instructor Development Class. Unfortunately, to get from Indiana to South Dakota without going WAY out of the way, meant crossing Illinois. The law in Illinois is that you can carry a loaded firearm, in your car, with your home state license, provided you don’t get out of the car. On the way out, I stopped at one of the last exits in Indiana and filled the cars gas tank and emptied mine. The trip across Illinois on I-74 is about 3 1/2 hours and 240 miles, so, provided I watch my water intake, doable non-stop.
On the way back, I am watching the GPS for the state line. On the way out, I stopped at a hotel for the night and there were lots of big populated exits. Apparently, on the way back, the GPS routed me differently. I come around this bend and up ahead I see this really big bridge, and faster than I could say 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, I knew this was my last chance. I didn’t have to use the restroom, but I knew that would change over the next 3 1/2 hours, so I bailed off at the last exit in Iowa. There was nothing at the exit, so I asked the GPS to find me a gas station, and it showed me one just over a mile away. Cool.
I find myself in this little town. Older, a little run down, but seems safe. I put my blinker on to pull into the first gas station. As I slow down, I see 2 groups of young women get out of cars and head into the store. The hairs on the back of my neck kind of tingled. Maybe they were just going in to get some smokes or a Coke, but it kind of seemed like they might be ready to fight. I flipped the blinker off and continued on down the road.
Just up ahead, I see a BP station. Cool. As I get closer, I see no cars in the lot, even better I thought. Again, blinker on, and as I start to slow down, I see bars on all the doors and windows. Then it hit me, I am NOT in a good part of town. And, judging from the picture I snipped from Google Maps, the bars are a recent update. Once again, blinker off, and back to the GPS for a new gas station, now looking for one a little further away.
This story has a happy ending. I used the restroom without incident, and traveled blissfully through Illinois all the way to the Indiana Welcome Center.
In all likely-hood, the story would have been the same if I had actually stopped at either of the first two stations as well. Or, I could have been killed in some gang shootout. I will never know. And, I am good with that.
Your brain is constantly processing more information than you are aware of, and scanning for danger in particular. When it subconsciously sees something, it notifies you, like making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Don’t ignore those signs. Your subconscious detected danger. You may not know what it was, and your subconscious may be wrong, but don’t ignore it.