The title of this post is a summary of my drive home from the Thanksgiving holiday. It is amazing what can happen in less than 8 hours isn’t? Let me just say that not all road trips are created equal. Let’s start from the beginning… This morning we woke up at my parent’s house in Cincinnati, OH. Wanting to get on the road fairly early we set our alarms for 7:00am. We had the boys ready and Yukon packed by 8:00am. The only concern that we had was that our youngest son who is 7 told us that his stomach was hurting. This would not have been that much of an alarm but my brother had been sick 2 days earlier with a stomach bug and his kids had the same bug 5 or so days before. We hoped that he didn’t have the bug but what could we do if he did? We stopped and got gas and breakfast in Cincinnati before getting on the road at a local gas station called UDF just miles from my parent’s house. Nice place where the boys got donuts and chocolate milk and my wife and I got breakfast sandwiches and coffee. We were set for a drive a head of us. We drove about 1.5 hours to Georgetown, KY to Jessica’s parent’s house. We had to stop because we had forgotten our dog’s medicine there and the boys could use the bathroom. This is the stop that we find out that our youngest son’s stomach might have been worse than we first thought. Nothing bad has happened up to this point but he tells us that his stomach was hurting worse. He gave us a scale of the pain that seemed bad but who can tell from a 7 year old when he has his hands about 18 inches from each other. We get back on the road with hopes that our youngest can keep everything down until we get home. Our next stop was in Knoxville, TN. We asked our youngest what he wanted and he said something healthy. Our oldest son who is 9 wanted McDonald’s. We went with the healthy option because it was our youngest’s request but also because we had McDonald’s on the way up to see family earlier in the week. Jason’s Deli was the option. The 2 boys and myself walk in to Jason’s Deli while my wife takes the dog for a walk and to do his business. Our dog is a Shih Tzu so he is a whopping 12 pounds and really is not that bad to travel with. While looking at the menu to order inside my youngest looses it. He pukes twice near the area in which you order at Jason’s . I am apologizing to everyone while telling them to get a mop and trying to rush him to the bathroom. We make it to the bathroom and he throws up 3 more times. The only good news up to this point is that all of it ended up in the toilet. I am saying I am sorry to my son as much as I can because there is nothing in this world I hate more than seeing my children suffer and seeing someone puke. I have a very weak stomach to say the least. We ended up getting everything cleaned up with the help of the staff at the restaurant. It was very nice of them for sure and the situation could have been a lot worse I came to find out. We ordered food to go and our youngest got crackers and Sprite. Our goal at this point is to just get home in Atlanta and get our youngest in bed. We headed out of Knoxville and the traffic on I75 was becoming very crowded. It was moving but slow and cars where in both lanes for as far as we could see in most places. This made me check the trusty Google Maps and I found a route that would take us a back way through the rest of Tennessee into Georgia and to our house. It was curvy and two lanes most of the way but Google said it would be quicker and less miles. So I said “Why not try it?” I hope you see the foreshadowing that is happening all through the story up to this point. I mean, no one said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer. Also if you have stuck with the story up to this point then this is where it gets good or bad however you want to look at it. About 45 minutes after leaving Knoxville I noticed that I was not going to make it all the way home without stopping for gas one more time. Side note, I drive a Hybrid Yukon and it gets decent gas milage. We make it through the National Forest and through all of the curves to the final county in Tennessee before Georgia. Our youngest tells us that his stomach was hurting and that he needed to pee. Our oldest echoed the needing to pee part so we started searching for a gas station. Not knowing an area I rightly or wrongly judge gas stations by how nice the sign by the road looks. I have this though that if the sign is nice then there is a chance that the bathroom might be clean. Normally this train of though has served me well. We found a nice looking Exxon sign off of HWY 68 in Polk county. Not only was this place a gas station but a fireworks store and self storage facility. From the outside it wasn’t new looking but it was OK. My first reaction was that the sign out front may be the best thing here but we stopped anyway. Jessica got the dog out of the car, the boys went inside to use the bathroom, and I went to fill up the car. Jessica first noticed that there was a sign near the grass in front of the gas pumps that said, “No Pets Allowed!” It was kind of a strange sign at a gas station but OK. So Jessica walked our dog around the front of the property keep our down off the grass but let our dog pee when he needed to. Our boys came out of the store after an older gentleman who got in his car and drove off and told me that their bathrooms where out of order. Well there went my theory of a nice sign means a clean bathroom. They both looked at me and said they both thought they were going to pee their pants. I did what most dads tell their 9 and 7 year old. I said, “Go over there around the building and pee on a tree.” They said, “OK.”. I watched and no one came around the building from the front and the back of it was the self storage area. I looked and didn’t see anyone back there so told them to go ahead. They finished and the pine tree got watered. Jessica was finishing walking the dog so we all headed to the car to leave. I wish at this point we could have just left the gas station/fireworks store/self storage place but right before our youngest gets into the car he looks at me and says that his stomach hurts again. Before I could tell him to do anything he starts to puke again near the gas pump. I am in the car again saying I am really sorry that he is sick. My wife goes to him to see if she can help him. The lady from inside the store runs out and yells at us to get our kid to the grass that pets are not allowed. This lady is really upset that our son is throwing up near the gas pump. So my wife tries to move my son towards the grass. It is probably 75 feet from the pump to the grass. My wife yells back at the lady that he is sick and to calm down. The lady goes back inside yelling obscenities. At this point my oldest son is in the car with me and my dog. My wife is trying to get my youngest son who has now puked twice on the concrete to the grass but before they reach the grass my son pukes again. The lady inside runs back out of the store and calls my wife a stupid effing b*?ch for not getting our son to the grass. I could not believe my ears. I jump out of the car and yell towards the lady that she shouldn’t talk that way to my wife and that I have kids around here. Now I had to yell because she wasn’t close but also because I was furious. Here is my son puking and some lady yelling at my family because of it. Then here comes the really good part. Out of nowhere comes this guy around the corner where my kids peed on the pine tree. He is cursing me up one side and down the other. He is saying he is going to kill me and kick my butt. Jessica grabs my youngest son and jumps into the car. Our oldest son is yelling and our dog is going nuts in the car. The guy who came from nowhere has his fist raised and is charging at me. I really don’t know all that he said but I do know that my kids learned new curse words. They also learned that I could dodge a punch. You see I could have tried to fight, stood my ground and showed my kids and wife that they have a manly man as a dad and husband. In doing so I could have showed them how stupid I am, as well as how much I can’t fight, and how to get a go to jail, directly to jail, do not pass go card in real life. Believe it or not but the thought actually crossed my mind while the guy is chasing me around the property to just stop and let him hit me. I could have sued the man to another planet but my only thought was my family. How could I get this idiot away from them and get out of there? I can tell you that while dodging punches and running like a chicken with it’s head cut off I kept saying, ” I am not going to fight you.” The guy finally said in a slew of curse words for me to get into my car and get out of there. I ran as fast as I could to my car, jumped in and drove off. I was truly afraid that the lady in the store was going to come out with a gun. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I was so mad. I had so much adrenaline pumping. I couldn’t get out of my head that my kids and wife had to experience what just happened. Questions started flowing like crazy. Are they going to think I am a wimp for not fighting? Is my youngest son OK or is he puking in my car? Is my wife and oldest son OK or are they in shock? How do I get this guy and lady back? How do I make sure that none of my friends ever go to this place? What should I do next? We get about 3 miles down the road and my oldest son tells me that he was going to call 911 while I was out running around with the guy chasing me. I told him that it was a good idea and I called 911 to report my experience. The operator asked me if I wanted to go back and meet the police there to file a report. I said no that I just wanted them to understand what happened and that I wanted to get my family home. The operator didn’t sound surprised and told me to have a safe rest of my trip. Since I’ve been home I have been playing that scene through my head at least 100 times. I looked up the place that we had puke, pee, and punches thrown. Come to find out the guy who threw punches at me owns the place. His wife is the one who yelled at my family. They have a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in over a year and every review I can find of this place is 1 or 2 stars with bad stories attached to them. I truly feel sorry for anyone who finds themselves stopping at this establishment. I hope this never happens to anyone else. Why do I tell you this story? More than anything because it was so dramatic of a ride home and this is not normal in my life. The other thing is to see if you have advice on what I should do next. I think I will just let it drop but I am still really upset. My kids now have curse words ringing in their ears that their family doesn’t use around them ever. My youngest is in bed sick thinking about some lady calling him an idiot for being sick. How do I know because he told us that. So where do I go from here? What do I do now? Pray for these people? Hope that Exxon revokes their license to do business and takes down the nice sign? Get all of my social media friends to write more bad reviews so that no one ever goes back to this place? Chalk it up as a great story to tell in my next talk? Laugh about it in 7 years? I am really at a loss. The good news is that we are home safe, our youngest hasn’t puked again, and I know which route I will never travel again back from Knoxville, TN to Cumming, GA. Do you have any thoughts?