The American highway system is very impressive.
But at the same time, it’s also pretty terrifying. Thousands and thousands of miles of open road, where literally anything is possible.
And you really never know what you’re going to run into out there…especially when it comes to highway rest areas and truck stops.
Let’s get weird and creepy with folks from AskReddit.
1. An odd encounter.
“I had an odd encounter with someone who claimed to be one. When I was 19 yo (f) I was driving home to California via I80 through Wyoming. It was getting late, and I was beyond tired. I pulled over to the side of the interstate, and I set my alarm for 15 minutes, so I could take a nap and then continue on to the next town.
It’s important to note that I normally wear contacts, but I had been wearing my glasses and I took them off to sleep. I can’t read a sign two feet in front of myself without them. I fall asleep. I’m awoken by a tap on the window.
I started feeling around for my glasses, but I knocked them to the floor of the car. A second knock. I thought it might be the police, even though I didn’t see lights. I didn’t know if it was legal to park on the side of the highway. I rolled down my window a couple of inches, but I couldn’t see anything about this person without my glasses.
They asked if everything was alright, and I said yes. I still thought this might law enforcement, so I was being hella respectful. But then he told me that he recognized me. I said, no you don’t.
He said he worked up the road at a rest stop/gas station, and he had just seen me fill up my tank. I hadn’t filled up in the entire state of Wyoming. I drove a yellow vw beetle with some pretty significant damage to the rear bumper. He insisted he recognized my car.
At this point I knew he wasn’t law enforcement, and I knew he was lying, so I started making my replies short. Then he asks if I want a ride. I say no. He offered to drive me to the nearest hotel. I said no.
He was very insistent. Finally I asked if I was doing anything wrong, or illegal. He said no and left. Could have been a totally normal dude, but it freaks me out to think about it now, a few years later. The scariest thing about it to me is how I wouldn’t have been able to go to police with a description if something HAD happened, because of my lack of 20/20.
Be CAREFUL out there, everyone.”
2. In Oklahoma.
“I worked at a truck stop kind of in BFE Oklahoma…..what story do you want? The 85lb elderly man with a Brooklyn accent who would come in with his multiple “wives” to shower at the same time who were all BBW and called him Pappy?
I still remember his Trucking Company’s name. We had a couple drunks drive through the store, I have had a tweaker yell at me while subsequently spitting an ACTUAL TOOTH out of his mouth at me.
Had ones trucker reach in his pocket to get change and pulled out a set of dentures, not his own but some he “found in Vegas” said they were his good luck charm.
I have been cussed at, spit at, found drugs and the amount of people who will poop in a public bathroom sink, shower or hallway would amaze you.”
3. Oh my…
“Several years back I was stopped at a rest area at night.
Over about an hour I saw what we describe as a lot lizard enter the cab of a truck on the driver side, leave on the passenger side, on to the next truck. She went down the line of about 8 trucks, not touching the ground once. Just cab to cab.
4. Time to leave.
“A little over a year ago, a friend and I were driving from California to Kansas and made a rest stop somewhere in the middle of Utah. Usually we stop at TA’s or Shells, Chevron’s — y’know, well-known corporations.
On this particular occasion, I needed to use the restroom badly and wanted to go for a snack, so we chose the first place off the highway that was coming up. I went to the restroom and my friend said she would grab the snacks, and when I came out of the restroom, she was frozen in place, hadn’t even looked around the store or anything, and I asked her what was wrong.
She said that no one was behind the register and they walked away as soon as they saw her.
I thought she was kidding since that’s rude but alright, I decided to go over to a table full of people and two women behind a counter, and the women turned away fairly quickly and didn’t acknowledge my presence, and the table went quiet and one of the men side-eyed me and said, “Your kind aren’t welcomed around here.”
Everyone else on that table acted as if they didn’t see me and couldn’t turn to face me. Somehow, my friend and I, a mixed-race girl and a Hispanic girl, were threatening to them. We simply left.”
“My ex and I were driving back to central Florida from Atlanta. There was terrible traffic on I-75, so we decided to take the back roads until we hit Florida.
This happened somewhere in Georgia, sun was just setting so it was light out still but quiet and getting dark. Nothing around but fields of various crops for miles.
We’re at about a quarter tank, so we decide to stop at the next gas station we see. I stand by the pump while my ex goes in to pay with cash. I hear some muffled yelling. About thirty seconds later, I see her running towards me yelling “GET THE F*CK IN THE CAR!”
My ex was generally the scariest thing in any given area, so seeing her like that scared me sh*tless. We dove into the car and sped away. It takes her a few minutes to calm down enough to explain what she saw. Basically, she walked in there, and the place was trashed.
All the shelves were turned over, product all other the floor, no one to be seen, radio still playing. And then she heard screaming and shouting from the back room and bailed.
I wish I had a satisfying ending to this, but we never found out what happened. Pretty sure we called the cops but we didn’t even know the street names and we’d sped away too fast to notice landmarks, so I don’t know if they found the place, and I didn’t know what to look up online to check.”
6. Dealing with all of it.
“Managed several rest areas for a few years in Idaho.
Dealt with a drug smuggling ring, evacuated employees from wildfires or snow storms, called in a few dead bodies that had been left at the sites, found lots of drug paraphernalia and meth’d out truckers. Let’s just say I got to know the state police pretty well. All bizarre things but somewhat what you’d expect.
The worst part of it all was just gross people. People that would smear sh*t on the toilets and walls, would get caught having s*x in the stalls, open their car doors and dump trash into the parking lot instead of walking over to the garbage can, continually harassing my minimum-wage employees over stuff that wasn’t their fault.
7. No, thank you.
“Worked at an ice cream shop in a truck stop when I was 15. A trucker came in that looked like Santa’s greasy pervert brother asking me if I wanted to take a shower with him.
I reported him but I didn’t work there much longer after that.”
8. I would not enjoy this job.
“I work at a TA truck stop as a 2nd job.
We’ve had a guy die in his truck after he parked for the day, heart attack.
The local jail drops all of their inmates who just got out at the truck stop, so there’s never a shortage of panhandlers with a propensity for violence towards anyone who says anything counter to the random sh*t they request: cigarettes, use of your cell phone, money, food, a ride, etc.
Lot lizards do exist. They loiter around acting like they aren’t trying to get picked up until a driver interacts with them. Then you promptly see them leave together acting like they’ve known each other for years.
The occasional robbery at gunpoint.”
“My dad works for the department of transportation in our state.
One day a couple of them were doing some work at a rest stop and found a dead body in a ditch.”
10. People are insane.
“Was getting out the Army and traveling home from Washington State to Florida and in the desert i stopped at a rest area on a lonely stretch of the road.
Only I needed to pee so I got out walked into the mens room and in the 1st stall are 3 men f*cking, they said welcome and i turned and walked back out. Got to the car told the wife. Now the really odd part was that we were the only car or truck there.
Now on the way up to my unit after finishing AIT and going to Florida to take my family we were going across the interstate 40 and pulled of to a gas station in New Mexico so my wife could pee, she accidently went into the next building as i had parked out closer to it then the gas station.
She walked in this place and there were 4 scruffy men holding what looked like AK-47s to her. And hundreds of crates full of ak-47 looking rifles. She said this doesnt look like the gas station and restroom. They said “no ma’am, no gas station here best get on out and forget what you saw.””
11. This is crazy.
“I was hitch hiking a while ago and stopped at a truck stop, looking for a ride out. In amarillo Texas… I was just sittin there playing my ukulele sittin against a wall, and this guy walks over to a table near me about ten feet away.
Young looking Spanish man, buzzed hair tattoos and all that. He look sad, like really really sad. He listened to me play music for like 10 minutes just listening. So I got up and introduced myself to him, I can’t remember the name he told me. We shook hands and I sat with him We talked for a while, he told me his girlfriend just broke up with him and threw his stuff out and he lost his job.
Pretty much he is at rock bottom, and you could tell, cause Iike I said this man was sad. He said he came here to try to get a ride and just start traveling because he wanted to see something beautiful and whatnot, so I told him some hitch hiking storys and whatnot. So he asks to use my phone to call someone real quick, so he does and he makes the call. He gives me my phone back and we continue talking.
About 5 minutes later a truck comes squealing into the parking lot right towards him with a scary bald man holding a machine gun hanging out of the passenger window, and the guy starts to run. I dived behind a table, my god I was scared. I looked up and then three cop cars came in from every entrance of the place, and the guy just dived down to the ground mid run, musta known he wouldn’t escape.
It turned out the truck was a unmarked cop car. That was f*cked up for me though I thought it was gang sh*t, and I’m all the sudden looking down a machine gun barrel.
So they arrest him, and they decide to take me to the cop /FBI place in Amarillo to question me about what I learned from him. Man that place was a sh*thole. Not like the tv makes you think.
Well it turns out this guy the night before went to a bar with a gun all tweaked out, robbed everyone at gunpoint and shot someone’s hand, held up a woman and s*xually assaulted her at gunpoint and put his hand in her v*gina in the bar, and fired the gun right next to her ear so now she is deaf in that ear, and shot and killed a British guy who was on a road trip to see his mom who was dying of cancer and decided to stop in Amarillo because of some song he likes. So they tell me this guy is gonna be put in death row.
So while I’m waiting at the station to talk to the cops so they can get my statement all the sudden the door opens, I’m sitting in a chair by the elevator, and in walks the murderer handcuffed and with two cops behind him, so I sort of had no clue how to f*cking act.
They go up to the elevator and push a button, but they have to wait for it to come down, so the murderer is like right in front of me and he turns to me, and this is like a movie scene it was so f*cking intense. He says to me
“Ren, I am sorry I lied to you about who I am, my name is Ray Carlos Cisneros, please call that number I called and tell them that I am sorry. It’s life ya know.””
12. Horror story.
“I have a truck stop horror story.
Back in 1974 or 75 when I was a toddler, my uncle was approached by a guy pimping his girlfriend for drugs/money ( back then truckers did a lot of speed because they didn’t test for drugs ) on the way to the bathroom and my uncle declined him.
The man came in after my uncle and stabbed him six times with a knife that the local police described as a machete . He died.”
13. Rest stop adventure.
“Had my first scary rest stop adventure 2 weeks ago.
Girlfriend and I are driving back to Los Angeles from AZ, and stop at one on the 10E just after Coachella Valley.
It’s about 2am but I really have to pee, and she does too. As we pull in there’s a good amount of trucks on their side, and cars on our side; but I don’t see any people. It’s got a real creepy vibe and my girlfriend decides she can wait to pee; so I head to the bathroom while she stays in the car with the doors locked.
In the bathroom is a barefoot, very dirty man sitting on the floor under the sinks watching videos on his phone. Ok weird, but I live in Hollywood, so I just avoid eye contact, do my business, and leave.
Gf decides she does need to go, so I walk her to the bathroom and wait outside. Still no human activity in the rest stop.
We get back to my little Subaru and grab some snacks from the trunk and get in the car; the doors are locked and the engine is on, but we are sitting there for a minute or two preparing to go when I catch a glimpse of headlights in my mirror.
An old 70s massive sedan is slowly passing behind us and I can see it’s filled with 4-5 men; their windows are down, and they pull into the spot immediately next to us. Mind you, I parked nowhere near any other cars, but they pulled up right besides us.
Before they came to a stop, my spidey senses tingled and I jammed my car into reverse and flew backwards as I heard their driving yelling “Hey! hey! hey!” To get our attention. And then they put their car into reverse to back up in front of me and block me from leaving.
But thankfully I’m driving a new Subaru vs their old clunky sedan from the 70s and without taking an extra beat I floor it and swerve to avoid them while they back up.
We booked it out of the stop and I did a good 90 on the 10 for a few miles.
I can’t say for sure what would’ve happened if we stayed; but I don’t think they were asking for directions.”
14. Where’s the mop?
“Worked at a highway fast food place for about 8 years on and off. One story has always been my favourite. The night the mop was stolen by the stoned guy.
The store was just outside a small town that day beside the highway.
One night it was about 11pm and it had been quiet for ages. We had started to shut down and clean the dining room. There was only me and one other person working.
We had done about half and were taking a break having a chat behind the counter, killing time until we could officially shut and do the other half of the dining room.
The front doors open and our immediate reaction is “ugh, customers”. These customers stopped just inside the door and just stared. We realised they were locals and they were high as kites.
One of them just stands in the doorway, looking around in stoned wonder. The other sees the mop bucket we had left out there, in preparation for doing the other half of the dining room.
He proceeds to pick up the mop, walk a lap around the restaurant dragging it behind him on the floor, leaving a huge wet dirty trail. Then he and his mate turn and walk out the front door with the mop.
It was one of those moments where you honestly don’t know how to react. We just looked at each other and p*ssed ourselves laughing.
We then discovered it was a huge problem. Turns out that was our only mop. We had to leave the floor dirty. Worst part was the restaurant manager was doing open the next morning.
We left notes everywhere explaining what happened, but I still got a call at 5am b*tching me out for leaving the store in such a state (even though she was the reason we didn’t have a second mop, too expensive apparently!). No one believed us, and we didn’t have security cameras to back us up.
Fast forward about six weeks. One of the locals comes to work (thankfully when my manager and me were both working) and he walks in carrying a mop – the mop that had been stolen. He found it in the bushes on the back path from the rest stop to the town.
Even now almost 20 years later I’m friends with the guy I was working with and we often reminisce about the night the stoned guys stole our mop. So random. Up there with the night the cat got stuck in my engine.”
Have you ever seen anything weird, shocking, or creepy at a truck stop or a rest area?
If so, please tell us your stories in the comments.
We look forward to hearing from you!