Truck stops are pretty much miniature ecosystems along the nation's highways. While most people are going in and out of any given truck stop for gas, food, drinks, and possibly to rest, there are some people who essentially call them home. And those who spend more than 30 minutes at any given truck stop probably aren't in the right state of mind.
That's what the people in the following stories got to experience for themselves at one point or another. They recently shared their stories with Reddit where they revealed the craziest interactions, crimes, and of course, lot lizards along the way. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I pulled into a truck stop outside of Sacramento, and it was a real dive. I just wanted some coffee and to take a recreational. As I was walking through the lot, I saw some sketchy looking homeless guy yelling at truckers demanding money.
I decided to avoid the situation, cut between some trucks and circle around the store. About a minute or two later, I heard shots going off.
The homeless guy shot a trucker in the head. Two other guys tackled him and held him for the police.
I always wonder if I hadn't decided to avoid him if that would have been me."
"I used to assist in liability claims for trucking companies. What a nightmare. The best stories involved the MULTIPLE times truckers ended up in the back of their trucks trying to score with a lovely lady who then proceeded to rob them blind and steal the cab. We had TWO calls in one month involving truckers in Texas where the drivers were found unclothed in the back of their trucks with no wallets or ID at all.
The police were calling us to identify them and figure out how to get them back on the road. One guy lost a full load from Circuit City because he thought it was his 'lucky day.' Didn't matter how many times we warned the drivers or told the stories.
There was once a guy who stopped off at home en route to deliver a load. He found his wife with her boyfriend getting cozy. He walked back to the truck, put it in gear and parked it in their living room. No one died, but try to explain to your insurance carrier how this was an 'accident.'"
"Driving northbound on Interstate 15 through Cajon pass, I saw a really nice classic Buick parked on the side of the freeway with its hazards on, looked to have broken down.
Upon closer inspection, an older woman had stopped, dropped her pants, hit the hazards, and was dropping a massive deuce with her rear hanging out of the driver window.
Different story, at the Flying J in Ehrenberg, I stopped for fuel and beef jerky. While I was walking in, I noticed a driver yelling at a recreational reptile to leave him alone and let him sleep and this was the last time he was gonna tell her. So I did my shopping, and on my way back to start fueling, I noticed the driver from earlier taking off from his spot and driving towards the lot lizard. I was thinking great, I'm about to witness a murder and have to deal with taking statements. Nope. Dude got his truck up to about 15 mph, rolled the window down and whipped a jug of something I'm gonna guess WASN'T lemonade at her and drilled her center mass. So this urine-soaked lot lizard went sprinting into the travel center, and about five seconds later, people started pouring out the front doors like the place was on fire.
By the time I was done fueling, the cops had come and were tossing her in their cruiser while taking turns dry heaving. The best part is I was about 50 yards upwind of all this."
"Sometimes, I get a hankering for chicken fried steak when I'm on the road. Everybody knows that if you want a good chicken fried steak, you head to a truck stop with a single word on the sign out front. 'Eats,' 'Restaurant,' 'Mom's,' or something like that. If it doesn't have a counter that you can belly up to without waiting for the hostess, keep driving.
Just after I sat, a lady somewhere around 40 years old, who looked the far end of a very rough 50, sat next to me. She was easy to talk to, so we talked. She'd been 'out on the loop' for five days. That is the term she used, she might have made it up, for going out to a truck stop and servicing truckers. She told me when she was done for the day, she'd give a freebie if they'd let her sleep in the back and wake up in a fresh new lot. A good way to see the country, she told me. I doubted her but didn't say so.
She was proud of the fact she'd never been robbed of cash in 20 years. Said a few had tried, but almost all of them backed off when she introduced them to Millie. I only saw the mother-of-pearl handle of Millie when she tapped the top of the stiletto peeking out of the top of her calf high boot. 'Almost all' she repeated with a toothless grin.
She hated 'immigrants' that came to this country and undercut hard working Americans. It used to take her only three days a month to keep her in luxury, which she pronounced luzzurry. Now it was almost a week twice a month because the immigrants would undercut hard working Americans. I couldn't discern which nationality these immigrants were, she hinted they could be Hispanic, Asian, or Eastern European. Perhaps all three.
She said if I was heading east that she'd make it worth my while, with a wink. Sadly, I told her I was heading west. She asked if I'd make a little detour to help her out. I asked how far she was going. Omaha she said. We were in Ely, Nevada, at the time. When I again said no, she gathered up her oversize handbag, joined a portly man in a dirty ballcap, greeted him with a hug, and disappeared out of my life forever."
"I was on my way back to the yard after a week-long run and stopped at the Pilot in Gary, Indiana for the night. I was pulling a refrigerated trailer and found myself a slot in between two other trucks. Both of them had their cab lights on, but the truck to the left had his curtains closed.
So I was sitting there, logging my hours, when I watched as a lot lizard opened the passenger door of the tractor to my left and climbed down. She knocked on my door, I said, 'No thanks,' and she started to walk to the truck to my right.
She paused right in front of me, reached up inside her skirt, pulled out a used rubber, dropped it on the ground in front of my truck, then went and knocked on the driver's door of the truck to my right. The driver, who also watched the entire thing, opened the door and let her in.
Another time I watched one girl go through 5 trucks parked in a row without ever touching the ground. Stepped from one truck to the next, running board to running board.
We call women like that cans of whipped cream."
"I dated a girl who was a trucker. She was a short-haul but occasionally had to run loads to a warehouse out of state. When she did, I usually tagged along. Once we pulled into this nasty, abandoned-looking truck stop right on the New Mexico-Texas border for fuel.
All fueled up, we headed inside to see if we could get something to eat. The inside of this place looked like something out of Fallout. Mostly empty shelves with random dust covered canned goods and old boxes of this or that, lights flickering and making that pinging sound. Not a soul to be found. We grabbed a few bags of chips and waited near the register. After making some noise and waiting for like five minutes, we put the stuff back and went outside. Surrounding her truck were about 10 guys who looked pretty scary. Remembering I had left my weapon in the truck, my stomach dropped.
A biker then rolled up and talked to the two guys near the back of the truck for a minute, then did the slitting throat motion. My girlfriend was shaking and close to crying. The biker threw his hands up, told everyone to move, and walked over to us. He then very politely told us that someone had stolen a trailer of his up north and he was looking for it. This wasn't the one, so he apologized for the drama. He reached into his pocket, grabbed something, stuck it in my hand, and told me he was sorry for the trouble. As he was walking away, I looked in my hand and it was a bag of weed.
We got out of there pretty fast."
"I used to work at a truck stop. Had tons of interactions with truckers, and it's really made me appreciate what they do, but they stuff they pull sometimes is so gross.
I once walked in on a waist down unclothed truck driver washing his balls in the bathroom sink. I'm talking one leg propped up on the sink while splashing water repeatedly into his crotch. He paused for a second when I walked in, then kept going on with the splashing. I choose not to stick around.
At least once a month I'd find a turd sitting in one of our urinals. Like I'm never going to understand the thought process of awkwardly crapping in a urinal when there's a perfectly good toilet a couple steps away.
Had one of the local girls who hustled the truck drivers lock herself in the bathroom and proceed to overdose. I, being the key holder for the building, went to unlock the bathroom and upon opening the door, she fell out onto me and threw up all over my legs and feet. I don't even want to imagine what the stomach contents of a lot lizard could contain, but needless to say, I went home early that day. Threw away the pants and shoes too."
"I have spent a number of nights at truck stops from the age of 13 on (32 now). I grew up drag racing, and back when I was younger where my family and I lived, it was minimum a two-hour drive to the closest track, but we used to travel to a lot of tracks that would be over five hours away. This resulted in a lot of nights spent in truck stops mostly with me sleeping in the back seat of the truck, the bed of the truck, or in the trailer with the race car.
A few quick stories of what I've seen:
Naturally, a lot of lot lizards. They aren't as prominent as some think, but they are definitely out there. One night while sleeping in the bed of the truck, I overheard a driver arguing with an older woman over the cost. Apparently, $40 was too much for this guy. This lasted for about five minutes until the woman left. About five minutes later, I heard the same guy talking to another guy I assume was a truck driver as well. He was telling this new guy about the woman wanting to charge him $40. The guy then said something along the lines of, 'I'll suck you off for half that.' I assume the guy accepted that offer because I heard both of them hop into the cab of one of the trucks next to me. I was about 14-15 at the time.
I was also propositioned by a mother-daughter team that looked to be 35 and 18 at most. I was about 16-17 at the time. There are other stories, but those are the only two that come to mind."
"I had a lot lizard climb into my truck while I was sleeping one night. My truck's passenger's side door wasn't locked as well as I thought. I'd been hit in a parking lot by another truck and it bent the door in a little. I tested the lock and it seemed to lock and unlock fine, but that turned out to be wrong. It was around 1 am, and in my sleep, I sort of vaguely heard my door open, so I was already starting to wake up, then someone shook me by the shoulder. I jumped up and hit her in the face with my laptop, we got in this weird hair-pulling slap fight, and physically pushed/kicked her over the passenger's seat and out the door onto the pavement. I stood there half awake blinking at her through the windshield when she jumped up, flashed me her chest, flipped me off, and ran away. Went back to sleep.
Woke up an hour or so later with someone knocking on my door. It was the police. She called them and told them she was my girlfriend and I'd beat her up and thrown her out at a truck stop. I believe they were getting ready to handcuff me when a few drivers from other trucks came over to explain she'd been knocking on truck doors all night and was there most weekends either knocking on doors or trying to climb into unlocked trucks. The cops didn't really say anything else to me, they just handcuffed her and drove away with her in the back.
I'm female and I look nothing like the stereotypical ideal of the manly female trucker. She looked like a greasy beach ball with dead caterpillars for eyebrows.
Also, I've been flashed innumerable times by men and women. I've seen a lot of wrecks and the bodies. I had someone throw a football from an overpass and bust my windshield once. I helped drag another truck driver out of his truck through his windshield after I watched it run off the road and catch fire. I watched a guy hit a buffalo once and the truck and buffalo sort of exploded everywhere. I got stuck in the snow bobtail once and a whole Amish family came out and pulled me out with horses, then they gave me tons of food to take with me because the women said I was 'too skinny.' I knew a guy that had a pet goat, monkey, and parrot all in the same truck."
"My buddy's girlfriend's parents own a trucking business, and one of their drivers never showed to his stop and they couldn't get ahold of his phone so they looked at the tracker on the truck and he was at a truck stop in California.
They called the police there and they went to check it out. He had been robbed and shot in the process while parked overnight. The worst part was that it was his second to last run before he retired.
The owners of the company knew him well and felt terrible because he didn't want that job but they gave it to him anyway."
"My dad's a truck driver. He called me really upset one morning about seven years ago saying a girl my age (I was 16 then) was knocking on his window about 5:10 am, barefoot and obviously high.
She had little to no teeth and didn't seem to have bathed in weeks. She was begging my dad to let her perform services on him in exchange for like $10 or something. It made him so upset that he bought her a hot chocolate and a sandwich, gave her his blanket from his truck and $50 and really hoped she wouldn't use it for vices.
I guess he thought of me when he saw her. It really shook him."
"I once saw a Ford Escape hydro-plane across three lanes to the right-hand shoulder, recover, and then hydro-plane from the right-hand shoulder all the way to the inside barrier. After everyone stopped, there was what we thought was debris on the road but it actually turned out to be a guy and his old lady. The driver in the Ford had sandwiched a motorcycle between the concrete barrier and the SUV. That was a tough one.
The second was at a truck stop in Arizona. I was pulling through the fuel island and right as I was about to leave, 15 cop cars came flying into the parking lot with a swat van. They surrounded a truck that was already parked for the night. I heard later that the driver had lost a tire or something off his trailer and it had killed a guy on the side of the road. Don't know how true that story was, but it sounded possible.
Despite some of the messed up things you would see, I still miss driving like crazy."
"My mom was a truck driver for a little bit when I was just out of high school. One day, I took a trip with her from Texas to Louisiana.
She stopped at a truck stop outside Baton Rouge, where we were approached by a lot lizard. My mom said she wasn't interested because she wasn't gay. The lizard said, 'I'm both male and female, I have both parts.'
My mom being the curious sort she is asked how that was possible, and they said, 'I'm a real hermaphrodite, I was born that way.' My mom said she would give them $10 to see. They agreed. We ended up talking with them for about 30 minutes about hermaphroditism. It was pretty interesting conversation."
"My dad is a truck driver (the UK and Europe) and has been all my life. I used to go away with him during school holidays. I've spent a lot of my childhood in and around trucks and truck drivers.
When I was around 7, I went along during a run down through France. To pass the time, we were playing games such as 'go through the alphabet and you have to think of a boys name with that letter' and other games like that.
The next thing I knew, we were in a small French town and stuck in a one-way system, unable to proceed due to the ever-narrowing road ahead.
Dad stopped. He told people to move. He started to reverse. Then there was a bang. Dad got out of the truck. A crowd formed. I sat on the bed and ate sweets.
While reversing, my dad had accidentally gone through the front of a store.
I remember the policeman motioning my dad to pull forward and my dad motioning and saying something offensive in trucker-English, then I heard another crash. I'm sure a camera crew turned up at this point.
When we pulled forward the brick and glass (being held up by the trailer) all fell down and landed on top of a motorbike.
Then we had to follow the police to a car park and get in their car. I remember they were armed, and because my dad's a trucker (aka a punk), he told me not to panic because if I cried, then they would shoot us.
Of course I cried, I was 7 and scared. And apparently, that's why they let us go with just a fine. I also got a huge pack of stickers and all the sweets they could find."
"My brother was at a rest stop once and saw this middle-aged woman get out of a pink jeep and start walking five small dogs.
He continued about his routine and got in his truck and back onto the freeway. A few minutes down the road, the jeep with the woman and her dogs went flying past him, then suddenly made a sharp left turn, hit the dirt median, and barrel-rolled.
He stopped the truck and ran to check on her. There were dead dogs scattered all over. She was in a ditch of water with her head just above the water. She kept asking him incessantly if her dogs were OK (they were not). She was not ok either as she could not get up."