You’re somewhere outside of town when the driver confesses that his real motivations in picking you up along the side of the road was for sex. You’re already going seventy miles an hour and you still need a ride to Amarillo so when he suggest you get a hotel, you slip your fingers inside a concealed pair of brass knuckles saying, “Yeah sure, maybe later.” You’re already cornered and in these moments it’s important not to say no. No need to draw any lines in the sand. You carry on with a pleasant conversation like nothing is wrong, ask lots of questions to keep him talking, and when he tries to steer the conversation towards sex by suggesting that you and he pull over in the middle of nowhere to fool around in the back of the semi, you tell him that you’d prefer a hotel with a big bed to play on. A dangling carrot works for both men and donkeys.
Meanwhile you’re thinking if this guy tries to rape me, I might have to kill him, and if I kill him will the police believe me when I tell them it was in self-defense? You might regret leading this guy on, but at least lusty motivations are more transparent than violent ones. You are in the middle of the desert and the guy is twice your size. Keep reminding yourself that he’s going to have to stop for gas at some point. Your goal is to keep him distracted long enough to run that tank dry before he decides he’s waited long enough to take a run at you.
As the sun sets he becomes increasingly aggressive with his advances and it seems that at any moment he’s going to start demanding some sort of sexual favor, but thankfully it isn’t before he pulls over for gas. The driver exits the truck to fill up. This is your moment. You grab your bag, reach for the door handle but before you can open the door the driver jumps back in.
“What are you doing?” he asks.
You explain that you’ll be getting out here. The handle turns and you push the door open. He grabs you by the arm and pulls you close to his greasy mouth. His grip is tight.
“Give me a kiss,” he says.
You turn your face away in time to feel stubble and saliva rub across your cheek. His breath his heavy on your neck and his other hand is reaching. You throw your elbow around until the sharp point finds his jaw. You jump out of the truck and run into the dark, dark night. His curses trail after and you keep running until your lungs burn and the truck stop lights are a dim glow in the distance.
One day people are going to tell you that international travel is dangerous. They’ll say that going to Turkey is an invitation to death and that you should prepare a will in advance. They’ll warn you about the pick-pockets, the scams, Islam, and ISIL. They’ll try to push their prejudices and fears on you as if it were a burden they could lift from their own shoulders. When they tell you how naive you are and insist that you find a job and a wife, remember that safety and security are not prerequisites for happiness. Risk is a part of life and the risks you will take by seeing the World are still nowhere near as dangerous as hitchhiking in America.