I really thought I had posted this before, but found it in my drafts folder.
This was a brief moment in time but chock-full of unanswered questions and potential menace where my gut intelligence sussed out something so weird and so random. It was like a scene on a TV show.
A while back before the pandemic stopped most travel, I was taking a short flight. I had an aisle seat. As this was a smaller aircraft, there were only two seats on either side; window or aisle.
A man walked by and said his was the window seat. I got up so he could squeeze in. He was a big man, not really obese, but close to it. His bulk took up the entire seat. Thank you, he said several times, although I’m not sure why he kept repeating himself. He was looking at me as if he wanted to strike up a conversation and I wasn’t really feeling particularly chatty so I began to read a book. I could feel his eyes on me, though, and I felt a creepy vibe.
Here’s where the first strange stirrings of anticipatory dread occurred.
In the periphery of my mind, or maybe it was my gut, I had an odd feeling. That’s the only way I can describe it. Odd. Nothing tangible to point my finger at, nothing out of place, nothing I could see with my eyes, but a real feeling that something was wrong with this person flitted through my mind and my gut. In fact, I was on high alert for any gesture or words or behavior that might be inappropriate.
It’s unusual to have a first impression like that, don’t you agree?
I’ve been learning to trust my gut even when there might be nothing definite to satisfy my need for facts that I can see or hear or touch.
Luckily for me, as I was planning to dread the next few hours, a flight attendant stopped by and asked me if I’d like to move to another row by myself as the plane wasn’t full. I jumped at her suggestion and enjoyed the peace and quiet, all the while wondering what made me feel like there was something wrong with that man.
When we arrived at our destination, I grabbed my suitcase from the overhead bin and impatiently waited my turn to disembark. I didn’t give that man another thought as I was focused on a stop at the nearest restroom.
The next few moments were like a scene out of a TV crime show and it happened SO FAST, almost too much to process.
I noticed a man standing near the place where we all exit from the jetway to the flight waiting area. He had an intense gaze as he watched all the arriving passengers. That means that he obviously had to go through security.
Apparently I was right behind the man I had originally sat with. He was walking as fast as his size would allow. He spotted the waiting man too, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to escape.
The man stopped him, said in a VERY STERN VOICE, “You know that you violated your parole, don’t you?”
The big man stuttered, “Yes.”
“Well, then there’s nothing left to say. You knew what would happen. I’m here to take you back to prison.”
I was gobsmacked (another one of those great descriptive Brit words).
I thought it prudent to extricate myself in case I became an unwilling participant in some sort of dangerous situation. Although I wanted to watch the rest of the show, I continued to the restroom, shaking my head and praising my gut instincts once again.
I KNEW something was off about that man, but I had no idea that he was a criminal.
I want to know the rest of the story. What was he on parole for? What crimes had he committed? Why didn’t TSA do a better job of screening?
And most of all, I’m thankful that for whatever reason, the flight attendant (and the Universe) moved me to safety from any potential harm. Maybe I’m being melodramatic and maybe I’m not. Maybe I really do live an enchanted life. Maybe there ARE angels protecting me.
How crazy is that????