A Phone Call Away

By now my readers know about most of my fears and phobias. But have you ever experienced the type of fear that seizes you by the back of the throat? That type of panic that makes it hard to swallow or breathe?

A few weeks ago at the end of a night shift, I was headed home just after midnight. To my surprise, a quick burst of snow was falling as I left the parking lot. The roads were beginning to cover over and visibility was not so great. I groaned to myself as I pulled onto the interstate.

The good thing was that I was pretty much alone on the roads at that time of night. At least, I thought I was. Turning onto GC&P Road, I slowed my pace more as the snow was picking up and the roads were dicey. About halfway up the road, headlights suddenly appeared behind me. The vehicle was soon inching its way closer to my rear bumper. What the heck?

I felt intimidated to speed up but I didn’t. And that driver behind me was relentless. He kept driving up close and then backing off as if that would magically move me out of the way. If there had been a safe place to pull over, I would have allowed the driver to pass me, but there wasn’t.

What happened next was close to my worst nightmare while driving. The vehicle pulled up along side my car and continued to keep pace with me. Yes, he was in the opposite lane driving in the same direction I was traveling. In disbelief, I again slowed down to a crawl and he moved behind me once again.

I could not understand the purpose of this cat and mouse game in the snow. The fear was now creeping into my chest as the car once again pulled alongside me. I pushed my Bluetooth phone connection and called 9-1-1. As calmly as I could I explained to the dispatcher what was happening. The voice on the other end of the phone was reassuring as he asked questions to assess the situation.

He kept talking to me as I dealt with driving in a snowstorm with some idiot trying to either knock me off the road or force me to stop. I kept thinking about all the things that could go wrong if I just stopped in the middle of the road. As I crested the top of the hill, the dispatcher urged me to pull over as I was near some houses now. When I did, the driver of the other car continued past me and down the other side of the hill — all the while in the wrong lane!

As I sat in my car, my only connection to sanity on the other end of the phone, the dispatcher waited on the line until I could gather my wits and continue driving home. He showed genuine concern for my safety. More than anything I want to say thank you to that dispatcher who kept talking to me until I was safe. He went above and beyond.

I didn’t encounter the other driver the rest of my drive home. But it didn’t stop my knees from shaking as I pulled into my driveway a short time later. As for that 9-1-1 dispatcher, you have a new friend for life. If you ever need me, I too, am just a phone call away.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.