Contemporary Legend – American

A young woman is driving on a deserted road late one night. She notices she is out of gas and pulls in to the nearest gas station to fill up.  After she is done pumping the gas she gets out of the car to pay. The gas station attendant that is helping her notices there is someone hiding in her back seat.  The attendant is kind of a hick, and doesn’t speak very well.  When she is about to pay he goes over to the door and tries to prevent her from leaving.  She wants to leave however, and fights her way out after a brief struggle and runs over to her car.  She gets into the car and starts speeding down the road because she is afraid of the gas station attendant. Because she is so scared she is constantly looking in her rearview mirror. She thinks that he may decide to follow her.  She looks into the mirror the first time and does not notice anything strange. She then looks into the mirror a second time and she is feeling more afraid, but still does not see anything out of the ordinary. She looks into the mirror a third time and as she does she catches a glimpse of a strange person’s face in the rearview mirror. She realizes that there s a person in the back seat too late. The moment she realizes someone else is in the car, the stranger chops her head off with a hatchet.

Elizabeth told me that this urban legend always used to give her the creeps. After hearing it the first time she told me that she wanted very much to trust the advice of gas station attendants. This caused her a great deal of conflict because she says that most gas station attendants are in fact creepy. Even after hearing the urban legend she is still skeptical of putting her trust in gas station attendants, especially late at night.

To her this urban legend is about taking advice from people that you might not usually even talk to. She feels that it is a good point to make, but at the same time she feels that her instincts are usually correct in such situations. I think the urban legend points to the danger in traveling alone at night. The fact that the urban legend focuses on a woman and not a man probably has something to do with society’s traditional portrayals of women as victims. The illiterate-looking gas station attendant as a man and she was more afraid of him than she was the potential danger waiting in her car. I think it says something about not jumping to conclusions about people based on appearance as well.

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