The most interesting town you've ever been run out of

Last year, a couple of friends and I drove from Albuquerque to New Orleans. Around Houston, we started having car trouble, and by the time we crossed into Louisiana, frequent stops were necessary. We stopped in one town, Breaux Bridges, because it advertized tourist information, so we figured we could stop, let the engine cool down, and maybe get a map of the area to boot. Anyway, we couldn’t find the information center, and so we stopped in a vacant lot next to a towing service, which was closed for the weekend. They had a tow-truck parked out front, and my traveling companions were very mechanically inclined, so while the engine cooled, they admired the truck, speculated about its horsepower, etc. As luck would have it, the owners lived next door, and the woman of the house came out and asked what the hell we were doing. We tried to explain the situation to her, but she seemed to be hard of hearing, and we had to repeat a lot of things. Finally, she went away, and we figured we were fine. Ha, ha.

About five minutes later, too soon for it to be a coincidence, a sheriff’s officer arrived. He said he had recieved a call about some suspicious characters, and repeated some things that the woman had said to him that clearly showed that she had grossly misrepresented the situation, intentionally, or not. She had made no reference to car trouble. In any event, the long and short of it was, he checked all our ID’s, questioned their authenticity, hassled my friends for a bit (I was too busy with the car), and generally did little to dispel the stereotypes of law enforcement officers in small Southern towns. Finally, he said that car trouble or no, he could not be held responsible for anything that might occur if we were to remain within the town limits for much longer. We got the fuck out.

So, does anyone else have any stories in this vein they’d like to share? I’ve been pretty lucky in my travels, this is the only incident I have to report. I’m sure there are far worse out there. My father has some stories of his experiences as a long-haired college student during the sixties that make this look like a routine traffic stop. Anyway, it could be a great public service, the Official SDMB List of Towns to Avoid.

I never got run out of town, I got run IN.

I used to work as a field service engineer for a company that made sawmill equipment, so my travel schedule included some very small towns in the timber country of the Canadian outback and the American south. Starting up industrial facilities is stressful work; they’re always behind schedule, short on tools, and under huge pressure to go into and stay in production.

I was, in my youth, somewhat of a firebrand, so I’d get in arguments with the union foremen or mill managers, and often tell them that if they gave me any more crap, I’d quit and they could start up the sawmill computers themselves.

I was working in Wawa, Ontario (it’s an Ojibway word meaning Wild Goose), way north of Sault Ste. Marie, south of Thunder Bay and Timmins.

One December morning after an argument with the mill manager, I resolved to get into the mill early, so I’m up at 6 AM and driving past the local diner, peering through my frosted window to see if they’re open yet. I specifically remember looking at my speedometer; 60 kph when the OPP trooper lit up his lights behind me. He charged me with 145 kph in a 90 kph zone; the maximum fine he could levy without having to arrest me. I protested; I was going uphill, in the snow, in a Dodge Neon… AND I knew how fast I’d be going. Sure, see you in court, he said. Your hearing will be next Thursday at the courthouse in Sault Ste. Marie. Oh, by the way, the highway to the Sault is closed. Shouldn’t you be at the mill?

Another occurence, same sort of fight with the mill manager, this time in Hope, AR (yes, the President’s hometown). I actually packed up my equipment, turned off the logic controllers, and left the mill. A state trooper was waiting at the freeway entrance to escort me back. Turns out the state police detachment commander is the mill manager’s brother-in-law.

So remember, local police are OFFICER, sheriff’s office are all DEPUTY, and highway patrolmen are TROOPERS. Get it right, be polite.

Hanksville, Utah. 1995. Carl the Tow Truck Driver.

Ex hubby and I were on a camping trip, and thought it would be cool to take some dirt roads through the Henry Mountains on our way back to Colorado. We have a map marking the way through. The roads turn out to be badly marked, though, and we took a wrong turn. We went about 200 feet down this muddy road before it disappeared, and we turned around to go back up. It was not to be.

The road was caked with about 12" of mud. I don’t know how we missed that going down, but we did. We spent about 5 hours trying to get the truck up the hill, backing up, trying to get it up, putting down tree branches to try to get a grip. Nothing helped.

We consulted, and we both thought that if we spent the night with the truck there was a good chance the mud would freeze and we could drive out the following morning. But, our map had a ranch marked about 10 miles away from where we were. We figured 10 miles, no big deal! So we got on our mountain bikes, and headed towards it. We had passed many working ranches on the way up, and they were right where the map said they would be. Not this one. We biked through that godawful mud for about two hours before it started to get dark, and hubby set up the tent. We camped for the night.

Next morning, we biked about 30+ miles out to Hwy 95. Some nice people gave us a ride to the nearest town, Hanksville. There, we met Carl.

Carl is a 50-ish guy who runs a motel in Hanksville. He also owns the only tow truck within 100 miles. He rented us a room, and listened to our story. “Sure” he says, “I’ll get you out. We’ll go in the morning.” Meanwhile, we walk around town, get some food. People notice we’re not from around there, and ask us what’s up. We explain. They all say “Oh, Carl… he’ll help you all right. But he’ll charge you a bunch. He’s the only guy around here with a tow truck, though, so there’s nothing you can do.”

So hubby gets up at 6 am to go with Carl and some guy Carl insisted was needed. Hubby thought it was a little weird that Carl didn’t bring the tow truck - they rode in a 4 wheel drive truck on which the 4 wheel drive didn’t work. They drive up to our truck. Carl tells my hubby “Go see if the mud is hard enough for you to drive out.” Hubby does - it is. They drive back to Hanksville.

The total charge? Over $500. For a ride to our truck. Essentially, a taxi service. I will never go to Hanksville again.

I was working the night shift. After I got out of work I drove to Ithaca (it would have been thirty miles in the wrong direction to go back to my apartment). I spent the day in Ithaca as planned and then started home around 9:00 pm. I was approx half way home around 10:00 pm and was having a hard time staying awake (I had been up for over 24 hours at this point). I was in Geneva, NY and I pulled into the parking lot of a shopping center (all the stores were closed at the time) and tilted my seat back so I could get some sleep. About forty five minutes later I was awoken by two cops knocking on my window. They asked me why I was sleeping in my car and I told them. They then told me I couldn’t stay in the parking lot and had to drive on.

I have no idea why they thought having me drive on was a good idea. I assume they figured I had been drinking when they saw me in the car, but they must have realized I hadn’t been when they spoke to me. And anyways, regardless of whether I was drunk or tired, shouldn’t they have figured I was better off sleeping in my car rather than driving it? And what law did they figure I was breaking by parking my car in a public parking lot?

Probably trespassing and/or “loitering”, depending on who owned the lot (probably the mall in this case) and local anti-vagrancy ordinances.

I was once arrested for (amongst a few other ridiculous things) ‘Loitering in the 1st degree.’

I guess if I had fallen asleep BEFORE driving my car off the road I could have gotten off with ‘Loitering in the 2nd degree.’

Life is short. Make fun of it.

When I was ten years old I was deported from Tokyo, Japan (duh, like Tokyo would be anyplace else) for not having my visa renewed. I was actually coming home from Misawa to the states for Christmas and had been hassling my father to renew my visa for about six weeks. Well, when I was finally on the way home, he dropped me off at the airport (at the gate) and then after I walked through it, he turned and went back home. Anyway, when you leave a country they check your passport to make sure that you have current information. Mine was not so they got around five airport police/security people who spoke a modicum of English to come and hassle me. I was taken into a back room, interrogated as to why I had not renewed my visa (I was ten years old) and forced to sign a paper saying that I would not come back to Japan without proper documentation. The scary part is that they believed I had the right to sign that paperwork on my own recognizance. A minor would not be allowed to do that in the states.

True story.