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Next Exit, Safety

The inexplicable urge that led one driver to exit the interstate… and avoid disaster.

What a waste of time! I’d been ahead of schedule on my drive from Florida to Virginia for a family reunion, but that was before my impulsive detour to “Trader Jack’s Fireworks and Gifts.” One of those tourist traps off of I-95 in the Carolinas, selling sparklers and multicolored rockets in addition to kitschy shot glasses, snow globes and, of course, Trader Jack’s t-shirts. I didn’t need anything like that, and a quick look around confirmed there were no special finds to be made. I left the store and shook my head. Why had I followed that strange urge?

I felt it when I saw the first Trader Jack’s billboard sign on the interstate. A nagging feeling that said, “Stop here.” I should have kept cruising in the high-speed lane when I saw the next billboard for Trader Jack’s, and the next. But the urge just grew stronger. It couldn’t be the cheesy advertisements—it was a feeling I couldn’t explain. I switched lanes quickly and made the exit.

Now I shrugged at my impulsive behavior. Until I reached my car. Underneath, a large puddle was clearly visible. I knelt down to take a closer look. Sure enough, something was leaking, badly.

Great. I’d already wasted time and now it seemed risky to head back on the road. I crossed my arms, frustrated. What was I supposed to do? How long would I have to wait for a repair truck? Why had the mysterious urge led me to a fireworks store, instead of an auto shop?

Two men walked out of the store. “Hey there,” I called. “You guys don’t know where I can find a reputable mechanic around here, do you?”

“Sure do,” one of the men said.

“Great, how far is it, you think?” I said, wondering if I could even make it there.

“Not far,” the man replied. “The auto shop is right behind Trader Jack’s.”

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