The first time I had my gun at the ready, brandished and all, was when I was the victim of a carjacking on highway 40 while bringing a retired cop to his major surgery appointment. Lucky for me, nine cruisers showed up just when I needed them, that very second. Thanks to the cops!
The second time I had my gun at the ready was today. With the neighboring priest sick to death, I was on my way to the hospital in his parish in Bryson City to give one of his parishioners the last rites, priest that I am, and I had Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with me. I was coming down the off ramp at Exit 67 on Interstate 74, clearly marked on the far side with the proper wrong way signs for any would be knucklehead drivers not paying attention, something like the picture above. It’s not a good thing to get on an interstate highway going the wrong way.
As I slowed up for the intersection, an ultra-sports sports car, the kind with really wide tires pulled up into the off ramp coming right at me, going the wrong way. It wasn’t a Corvette or a Lamborghini, but perhaps, if I remember rightly (looking now at some pictures), a Bugatti Veyron (one or two million for the el-cheapo version). It can go 60 mph in 119 feet, 255 mph maxed out (410 kms per hour for those across the pond).
I pulled right into him, decisively, slamming on the brakes with a bit of attitude. I didn’t hit him but he knew I meant business and he was pretty upset that I had totally blocked his access. The thing is, he thought he was in the right, or had done this on purpose to scare his wife by screaming up the highway in the wrong direction. He wanted an explanation of my behavior and so put his window down halfway even as he continued to go around me in the ditch. In the ditch. He was determined to get on the highway going the wrong way. It wasn’t like he was making a mistake. Another car came down the off ramp behind me and went around this scene of mayhem. It couldn’t be clearer that this was on off-ramp, NOT an on-ramp.
I jumped out of Sassy the Subaru with my hands up, waving him off, so as to stop him. My message was unmistakable. He kept going. I ran right in front of him and told him with calm authority (where did that come from?) that I wasn’t going to let him go any further. I stared him down like I’m sure he’s never been stared down before. He wife was shrieking with her hands to the sides of her head and he was looking at my hip. He was intent on his adrenaline joy ride edging forward absolutely knowing he was in the wrong, but…
Here’s the deal, I wear a black and frumpy 5-11 tactical shirt (with Roman collar!) over my Glock 19 which I carry OWB but unseen on my right hip. But when I’m in the car I pull the shirt back behind the Serpa Blackhawk holster so that the gun is immediately available even with the seat belt fastened. I still remember the carjacking and I refuse to be a victim.
I forgot that the shirt was still tucked behind the holster and so he was seeing what was important to see. But that’s O.K. North Carolina is an open carry state also for those who have concealed carry permits but who may happen to want to open carry on occasion.
I didn’t brandish. I never threatened. I wasn’t terrorizing the public with a weapon. I was formulating a plan to perhaps shoot out his tires if he continued if conditions indicated this was the proper thing to do for the safety and welfare of all concerned. I’m practiced enough now that I could do that with certainty of not hitting the occupants. Easy peasy. It didn’t come to that, thank God. There are plenty of videos on-line demonstrating that personal defense rounds from a 9mm will leave a big enough hole in a reinforced steel-belted extra heavy duty truck tire so as to let the air out in about 15 seconds, so, no worries there.
Anyway, however upset he was (and you can bet he also had a gun, though he didn’t brandish that I could see), I’m sure he just couldn’t believe what he was seeing what with me wearing the Roman collar and all. I actually think that made him all the more angry and upset, though he just couldn’t fathom what was on my hip. His purposely scaring his wife and terrorizing other drivers and risking the lives of so many is one thing. That he would have to deal with that which could stop your car for certain before you even got started is another.
He backed away and turned his car around. Off he went getting an ear full from his wife. I’m guessing this was a corporate exec with his wife – both about 65 years old – on a scenic tour of the mountains here in their new car. Very elegant looking couple. The look of big money. I think he still thinks that he was in the right, and is fuming. But that’s O.K. I’m sure he has a new and better opinion of priests. ;-)
I was elated as I got back in my car. I looked over to the share-ride parking that is there as I came up to the stop sign at the intersection, and some guy in a pickup, looking very much in the part of an undercover cop, gave me a big thumbs up, which I also returned. I’m sure he also had a good view of what was on my hip. He looked terribly amused to see my Roman collar as well. I was amused that he was amused. I’m sure he was happy to see civilians doing their part, even the clergy. I’m quite sure Jesus was amused as well. I think I give Jesus lots to be amused about.
I was also quite impressed with this incident that you just don’t know when bad things can happen. It can all go down in mere seconds. I gotta thank my guardian angel for arranging the timing of this and for smacking me down to make sure I did the right thing. I could have let him go. But to what end, to kill themselves and others? That’s not right. I realize that this could have all gone south very, very quickly, but that’s O.K. too, isn’t it? I mean, just because something could go wrong doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing, right? I’m sure Jesus doesn’t mind if we do the right thing. I’m still elated it all went well… and I’m still thanking my guardian angel.
UPDATE: I’ve added more details to the account above. But here’s the update: The face of the woman in the passenger seat was burned into my mind, as she framed her head with her hands and was shrieking at her husband. All pretty intense. When I was on the phone with Father Gordon MacRae this morning (still only hours after the incident above), we were sending a note to a lady who is perhaps by definition the most anti-Catholic, anti-priest person in these United States. (She’s quite willing to receive the messages, by the way). Her photo came up with her email address. She’s a spitting image of the lady in the car. The face, the age, the exact weird color of hair, the exact exact exact hair-do. Everything. 100%. That’s her. That’s also why she was screaming I’m sure. It was her worst nightmare: to be rescued from malicious death at the hands of her husband by a priest who helps Father Gordon, her biggest nemesis in the universe. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! I love it. I just love it. Happy to provide the nightmare. Maybe she will also have, upon reflection of what happened, a better regard for priests. As I say, the angels arrange just this very kind of ironic circumstance. I love it.