Margery-Jean Baxter has developed a reputation for her driving.
Her dog, Mr. Coco, hangs halfway outside the passenger window of one of her two Mercedes as she cruises down Mobile streets at well below half the speed limit. He’s 14, and she’s done this with him ever since she’s had him. He goes “everywhere Mama goes,” she said.
Her driving habits, which under normal circumstances would infuriate the drivers stuck in the traffic she creates behind her, have earned Baxter a kind of local celebrity and cult following. A Facebook group documenting sightings of Baxter and Mr. Coco on the road, aptly titled “Mercedes Marge,” has almost 5,000 members.
But last Monday, Baxter was a victim of an attempted carjacking. As she sat in the drive-thru of the McDonald’s on Dauphin Street and Springdale Boulevard, a knife-wielding David Kelly is alleged to have pulled her out of her vehicle and attempted to run her over. He was unable to drive her car and police apprehended him.
“I’ve never been through anything like this,” she said. “I hope I never will again.”
In her Facebook group, which Baxter had no part in creating, the community erupted in support. A post on the group from a witness to the carjacking attempt garnered hundreds of comments expressing love and care for Baxter and Mr. Coco.
Since then, Baxter, who quickly returned to her normal routine, has been approached by multiple people telling her how much her “fan club,” as one user put it, hopes she feels better soon. During the incident, she suffered some minor injuries, including to her neck and back.
Earlier in the day, Jason Harsany, who owns the Smokin’ Gringos taco truck, was wrapping up for the day when a man wandered into the garage where he keeps his food truck, walking quickly in circles. It would not be long before this same man is believed to have pulled Baxter out of her vehicle and tried to drive off with her car.
After the man left the garage, Harsany decided to follow him in his car. He saw him leaving a Circle K, where the man pulled out a knife to steal beer.
He continued following the man to McDonald’s, where he saw Baxter on the ground in the drive-thru. Officers had apprehended the man.
Baxter had gone to this McDonald’s for the same reason she went every afternoon: a cup of coffee for her and a cup of ice water for Mr. Coco. Her windows were rolled down, as they often are, and then the man appeared, brandishing a knife.
“And let me tell you, my heart was about to come out of my mouth,” she said.
He grabbed a hold of her shirt and threw her out of her car, she said. It happened so fast she doesn’t remember if the door was open or if he threw her out through the window.
“He threw me about three or four feet and I fell in those roses they plant around the McDonald’s,” Baxter said. “But he didn’t throw me on hard cement, and if he did it would have broken my back. I was just — I was petrified.”
The man wasn’t very large but was very strong, she said. Mr. Coco was still tied in the front seat, and the man got into her Mercedes and started trying to back up so he could run over her, she said, but the car wouldn’t move.
Kelly was arrested and charged with two counts of robbery and menacing. Baxter said she’s glad she and Mr. Coco are alive. If the man would have told her to give him the car, she would have given him the keys.
“If he would have just put me on the side with my little wheelchair and my dog and gave me my pocketbook, I would have said, ‘Go on,’” Baxter said. “I mean, I don’t care. He didn’t need to hurt me like that.”
When Harsany saw Baxter lying on the ground, he had no idea she was the Mercedes Marge he had heard about through friends and online. It wasn’t until he posted videos of the incident on social media that someone pointed it out. He shared the videos, which show Baxter sitting down getting medical attention and police talking to the perpetrator, in the Mercedes Marge Facebook group.
The next morning, a Mercedes Marge sighting was posted in the group, just like normal. Since news broke about the carjacking, the group has dramatically increased in popularity, gaining over 1,000 new members.
Over the past week, the group’s page has been filled with messages from members who have spotted Baxter on their drives. They’ve even made a word for it.
“‘I’ve been Marged,’ as they say,” Harsany said.
When they are “Marged,” Baxter’s fans post videos or photos to the page of her Mercedes, with Mr. Coco’s head often seen hanging out the passenger window. These posts can get hundreds of likes each, especially in the week since the carjacking attempt.
Despite how shaken she was from the event, Baxter does not plan to change her routine — she still gets her coffee and ice water for Mr. Coco. She had never been through anything like this, and it was strange to have people approach her and talk to her about the carjacking. It’s embarrassing, she said.
“I’m just a human being with a little sweetheart puppy dog, that’s all,” she said.
Baxter doesn’t use Facebook, and she doesn’t know who made the Mercedes Marge group. Even so, her fanbase is growing by the day.
“I guess it’s unusual to see a puppy dog riding around hanging out the window,” Baxter said.
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