They were just trying to help a friend. It all seemed like a great thing to do. They were in Naples, Florida, and their friend, who lives in northern Florida, was coming down to join them for a few days. Lets just say, this was a group of women who should’ve known better than to do what they did.
It was a warm, dark Florida evening and this friend, through a series of circumstances, had to take a Greyhound bus from the Tampa area down to Naples. It was going to be a long trip for her. It’s normally a two and a half hour car ride, but almost twice as long on the bus.
Once on board, the people around her may not have been some she would choose to spend the day with. Her purse was wrapped around her arm and she was determined to get there safely. Sitting upfront, close to the bus driver, turned out to be a bad decision. He kept telling her to turn off her iPad and her phone because the light was distracting him (remember, it was nighttime). So she just rode, thinking she would never do this again.
On the other end, her group of four friends would be waiting for her. They made their way to the bus stop, a place they don’t usually go. It was unfamiliar territory to most of them and dark, so they decided to scout it out early.
The bus stop in Naples is a Shell gas station in the middle of nowhere. When the four women arrived, they were 30 minutes early, and noted there were several people sitting outside the station, probably waiting for the bus to arrive.
Here’s the kind of location this was – a private security company called Interlock started driving around before the bus arrived. The women noted it was a grey car that looked like a police vehicle, but there were green and yellow flashing lights coming from the trunk, the roof and the sides of the car. “What was that,” they said. Later, as the bus actually arrived, a sheriff’s deputy was just behind in his car. You’ve got the picture now, I guess.
Remember, they arrived early so they decided it was not a place to wait. There was some shopping close by, so the women considered it a wise use of the extra half hour, and the decision was made.
The drive to shopping became the ride from hell. The driver of the car was more familiar with this area of Naples, so the others weren’t concerned about how to get to the shopping spot. They should have been!
The only problem was darkness and the driver hadn’t been there for a while. The disclaimers began. They were all talking and the driver suddenly made a wrong turn. Now they were on Interstate 75 and everyone in the car told her she was on an entrance ramp, not the way to shopping. Someone suggested she back up on the entry ramp and turn around. What a crazy idea.
The driver kept going and now there was a tollbooth in the distance. They would have to pay $3.25 and head toward Miami. With no place to turn around, they would be stuck. They thought that maybe when they got to the tollbooth, the man would provide some way to help, but no, the toll had to be paid, and they were headed toward Miami. The next exit was 20 miles away. By their calculations, that’s 20 minutes down and 20 minutes back (total of 40 minutes), and their friend was due to arrive in about 25 minutes. That would mean a long time of her standing there in that very odd bus stop.
There was a lot of craziness going on in the car. How could they remedy the situation? Could they make an illegal U-turn in the middle of the highway at one of those police or emergency spots? (Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about that or even done it. OK, it’s illegal but this was a desperate situation.)
The driver was now distraught, to say the least, as was everybody else in the car. It was dark and desolate on this very busy highway. Could they actually pull it off? All are looking for one of those spots with a sign featuring a big bent arrow with a red line across it.
The driver was going too fast and passed the first one, so everybody in the car was moaning. As partners in crime, they thought there would be no more for a while, but they were desperate to pull off this illegal act. OK, it’s not a bank robbery, but it is illegal. In the scheme of things they determined a desperate move was needed.
Then about three minutes later, another one appeared, so the driver turned into that space reserved for emergency vehicles or law-enforcement. Yes! There was no one coming for at least a mile down the road, so she pulled it off and headed back the other direction. Now everyone in the car expected to see red lights going and a ticket about to happen.
That did not occur and the women made it safely back and were actually a few minutes early for their friend’s arrival at the creepy bus station. The bus was actually 15 minutes late, so it turned out that they could’ve actually made that 40-minute drive to the next exit and back. But who knew?
There was much laughing and shrieking about the whole situation. What a crazy event.
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