Moral of this story, in advance: ALWAYS check Allstays or an equivalent app before selecting an overnight parking location. You never know what's going to show up, even at a location you think you already know.
Even I say "when" if the situation gets too dangerous. Last night for the first time, we bailed on a Cracker Barrel which was clearly unsafe. Areas where bullets may start flying at any moment are not contenders for consideration, no matter how many security devices are on the van.
It was unsafe NOT because of what Cracker Barrel was doing, but because of a cesspool next door to it whose patrons, for unfathomable reasons, Cracker Barrel management was allowing unrestricted trespass.
UNFATHOMABLE, given that a patron was shot to death there about 3 months ago. After we arrived home this afternoon, I Googled "Hattiesburg nightclub shooting" because there was no doubt in my mind that I would find at least one fatality - it was clearly that caliber of establishment.
Anyway, what happened is that we pulled into the Cracker Barrel after an 816-mile travel day, and shortly thereafter, my husband noted that the adjacent warehouse appeared to be opening for business. Should we stay or should we go? We decided to see how things progressed. Maybe there'd be 50 people and a few hours of music and it would be no big deal. Or maybe not.
At least 500 people showed up, with no security, no law enforcement, no order, no control on public intoxication or drug use, no nothing. As things got louder, I peeked out the van window, made the call, and we bolted from there so fast that I never even put my pants back on.
There's a warning about this location posted in Allstays but I assumed we'd be dealing with a typical Cracker Barrel quite like the other dozens of Cracker Barrels we've stayed at - they are all formulaic with respect to the business model, including the demographics of the environments where they choose to build their locations. My bad - boy, did I screw up that call. Lesson learned. Assume nothing.
WHY would Cracker Barrel continue to allow a mob to overwhelm its property after a violent homicide??
And having established that this "club" (which from the look of it, I cannot imagine that it had any permits) was a hot spot for violence, why would the local police turn a blind eye?
Look at the size of this building below. It's about the same square footage as Cracker Barrel. Now visualize about 500 people trying to squeeze into it, because that's what they were doing. I'm not exaggerating.
No ideas as to why this would be allowed to transpire.