“Why did you go out on a date with a tow-truck driver?” Is probably what you’re thinking. 1) That's pretty shallow 2) My friend Emilia* made me. We were 20 or 21, hanging out at my place. Which was actually the basement apartment of my parents' place. Anyway, we met Sam* because Emilia's mom's van broke down outside of my house, and he showed up when we called CAA. Sam told her he thought I was, “really cute.” Bless her heart, Emilia gave him my number, and told me if I didn’t go on a date with him, she'd disown me. So I went.
A few days later, we met in the parking lot of a 24-hour grocery store near my place. Not exactly what I had in mind when I said I'd meet him somewhere, but he bought flowers from the store, which I'd found endearing enough to let my guard down. He suggested we go to a coffee shop. I said I'd follow him in my car, but he insisted it would be easier to go together. Against my better judgement, I went along with it and climbed into his tow-truck.
There are at least 20 coffee shops under 10 minutes away from where we were, so when he got on the highway, I was a little confused.
“Where are we going?”
“To this awesome Tim Horton's.”
For those of you not from Canada, there's no such thing as an, “awesome Tim Horton's.” They are all pretty much the exact fucking same. Still, I had no real reason to be freaked out, so I tried to ignore the alarms going off and the sinking feeling in my gut.
“I'm not a racist or anything,” he began his racist tirade, “but my dog hates black people. Goes nuts and shit, barkin' his heart out. I swear, he'd kill someone if I let him!”
“Uh...?" Did he just say what I think he said?
“No really, I'm not racist. But man, he just don't like 'em!” He grinned.
Yeah, no. He definitely said what I think he said. "Um, that's--"
“I know he'll LOVE you, though, when you meet him. You're gonna love him, too,” he reached for my hand.
I pulled out of his reach immediately, digging through my purse for my phone. When? WHEN I meet him? “How far are we driving?”
“It's just a little further. By the airport, we'll watch planes take off and land.”
“My dad is really great, too. Newfie, through and through! Best guy you'll ever meet.”
“You don't talk much, do you?”
“Not really,” I lied. “Hey the exit for the airport is coming up.” I thought he just wasn't paying attention, so I figured no harm in pointing it out.
“It's a little past the airport, it's coming up, don't worry.”
'Don't worry?' That's a weird thing to say. I looked at my phone and started typing, “THIS IS TERRIFYING. HE'S RACIST AND CRAZY. HELP.” but the message wouldn't send. Cell service was a little dodge even just outside the city back then.
"Like I was saying, my dad is the sweetest. He's gonna love you. When are you free to travel to Newfoundland with me?”
I laughed nervously. “Don't you think it's a little early to be making plans like that? I've known you for, like, 30 seconds.”
“Oh gosh, I'm sorry! Am I freakin' you out? Don't be scared. You're just so pretty, I can't help myself. I could take you home and keep you forever!” His laugh was not reassuring in any way.
“How much further is it?” I asked, sternly this time. Showing fear only fuels the fire.
“Oh I'm just teasin' ya, it's comin' up, I promise.”
“Well I don't want to go any further. Pull off at the next exit.”
“Relax girl, I won't bite...unless you want me to.” He winked.
FUCK THIS NOISE, I'M OUT! I looked at the speedometer. How fast is he going? Can I tuck and roll? I pictured myself trying to escape like in the movies, but determined that if I tried to get out of the truck, my chances of survival were slim to nil, at best. If I survived the impact, I'd surely get run over. My best bet was to get him to stop, then have someone pick me up wherever we were. I tried calling Emilia. My phone made a sad sounding beep. CALL FAILED. Fuck you, you shitty Nokia!!
“Are you tryna call someone?”
“What was that beep?”
“I heard a beep.”
“I didn't hear a beep.”
“Can I see your phone?”
The further and further west we went, the more I panicked. Harsh wasn't working, it was time for a new approach. “Sam, honey, you're being paranoid.” I touched his arm, hoping he was dumb enough to fall for it. “Can we just stop somewhere? I'm getting a little car sick.” I bit my lower lip and blinked more than I needed to, hoping I came off sincere and not campy.
He looked worried about me. “Yeah, of course.”
“The exit we need is right here anyway.”
Just as I thought perhaps this man --though frighteningly racist-- was perhaps not at that stalker-level (...?) we pulled up to the, “awesome" Tim Horton's.
It was drive-thru only.
The airport was nowhere in sight.
Our destination was a large, deserted parking lot, with nothing but tractor-trailers as far as the eye could see.
I checked my cell phone. Still no service. I'm going to die here.
At the drive-thru window, I made a big show of explaining to the woman that we drove all the way from Toronto for this, so the coffee had better be good.
“Ah, yes! Good morning.” She smiled and slid the window shut. It was 9pm. I'm fucked.
The awkward conversation he maintained, while I sat there, pretty much in silence, was considerably less frightening. Our nuclear-temperature coffees ("I'll take you home when our coffees are done --they're too hot to drink now!") seemed like they would never cool. I chugged my lava-coffee, burning my tongue and esophagus in the process ("All done!" *cough cough...wheeze* I think my tongue is gone? "We should really get going"), but he milked his fricken java to the last drop. Finally, FINALLY it was time to go home.
The goodbye was horribly awkward. He asked if he could kiss me and I said no. He asked when he could see me again and I said I was really busy and not into dating right now, or maybe ever. He didn't take the hint.
He called me -- no joke -- three times a day for the next two weeks. I texted him the first day and said I was not interested in pursuing this further, and asked him to stop calling. He did not relent.
The very last time he called was past midnight on a Friday. My friends and I were trespassing at our local Country Club (just your typical weekend back in the day), playing a round of night golf over beer. I'd just told them the story of my terrifying date when my phone rang. I pulled it out of my pocket and checked the called ID.
“You've got to be kidding me!” I shouted at my phone.
“Give ‘er here,” my friend said, flipping his driving iron and resting it on his shoulder.
I handed him the ol' Nokia.
“Yeah?" he answered, sounding distracted and impatient. “Hold on, lemme git 'er." He held the phone against his chest. "Babe? BABE?” he shouted at nothing. “She’s on the shitter," he spoke into the receiver again. "Who the fuck is this?”
Giggling with delight, my friend handed the phone back. “He hung up! I don't think he'll bother you again.”
Thankfully, he never did.
Tune in next time where I'll tell the story of Saeel, the Army Cadet. He makes Sam seem sane and rational ;)
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty!)
**As an aside, I'd like to mention that today, I don't let comments like that slide.