People Who Touch You in Airports


Adventure is everywhere, if you look hard enough to find it.

Oh wait, that’s sexual harassment I’m thinking of, and you could find it with your eyes closed.

Or more accurately, it’ll find you when you close your eyes.

I had decided that before traveling to Croatia, I would stop in Ireland. I was moving to the UK for a year and didn’t want to bring two extra suitcases stuffed with books and vacuumed packed school clothes into the field with me, so one of my Irish colleagues had agreed to hold onto my things until I finished working in Croatia. I had worked in Ireland for a number of years before, including earlier in the summer when I learned that another colleague was expecting her first child. We would meet up for a day when I arrived in Ireland, and I was determined to knit a blanket for her fetus.

Shockingly, moving out of the country, if only for a year, takes a lot of time, energy, and grudgingly completed paperwork.

A LOT of paperwork.

So much paperwork that I didn’t start knitting the fetus blanket until I got on the plane from Columbus to O’Hare, praying that somehow I would manage to complete it during the six hour layover and infinitely long plane ride from Chicago to Dublin. Sound easy? It’s not, especially when everything you knit comes out looking like dental floss that’s been pulled out of a dog’s ass. When you’re as useless with your hands as I am, knitting is much akin to gambling, only with hairballs instead of poker chips. You never know what you’re going to get and on top of that, you’ll probably have to start all over again two hours from Dublin.

The Chicago airport is one of the biggest international airports in the U.S., and as such, is also one of the busiest. After multiple failed attempts at trying to find a comfortable seating area in which to spend the duration of my hideously long layover, I finally settled into a moderately clear space against a wall near the gate and continued my frantic, semi-rhythmic knitting to the tune of Alanis Morrisette.

You would think that a young woman knitting quietly, listening to an iPod, and not making any effort to interact with anyone whatsoever would not attract much attention, especially if she was surrounded by hoards of other normal looking adults, but you would be wrong. I might as well have been practicing ventriloquism with my naked vagina baiting prey like a Venus flytrap.

After some time, I felt someone standing over me. I looked up to find a man staring down at me. He asked what I was making, so I told him. He said, “Oh, you have a baby.” I replied that no, I didn’t, and that this was for a friend. He asked why I didn’t have a baby, and I told him there were a lot of reasons.

Stupidly, I had fallen into his trap.

“Well I can help you with that,” he said. Let me remind you that this was in front of loads of other people. Why weren’t any of them concerned that a terrifying looking man with a cleft palate and one incisor had just offered to put a baby in me?

Best not to get involved in other people’s problems, I suppose.

He then proceeded to tell me all about his ex-wife troubles and how she left him for a man who had more money. The whole time I kept thinking that she probably left him for a man who wasn’t an ugly crazy airport predator.

Suddenly he asked me if I was traveling alone because in addition to having a cleft palate and one upper incisor, he also apparently had an attention disorder. I said yes, which elicited some sort of guttural shock response because, as he then told me, he had thought I was only fifteen. So not only was he an ugly airport predator with a cleft palate, one upper incisor, and an attention disorder, he was also a pedophile.

I asked about his destination, silently praying that it was NOT Dublin. He answered London, and then stared off into the distance. He shook his head, then apologized, moving closer.

“Sorry,” he said. “My wife. She gets into my head. She sends the black magic and voodoo into my brain.”

At this point the situation had grown so absurd that I had to fake a yawn to cover up a laugh.

To my horror, he reached out and touched my shoulders, first my left, then my right. He told me I had a beautiful body. He touched my right shoulder again, and I pulled away.

Didn’t anybody notice? Couldn’t they see that I didn’t want this guy touching me?

He asked for my number. I said no. He asked again, please? I said no. He asked again. I said no. Finally I said that it had been a pleasure to meet him and extended my hand as a way of saying, “I won’t run for security if you leave me alone right now.” We shook hands, but then he leaned forward and kissed my neck.

I felt his stubble on me for hours afterward. It wasn’t there, really, but I felt like it was.

Later I recounted the incident to a trusted mentor. She said I had to stop being so polite. It wasn’t my fault, of course, but surely I could be less…nice.

And that’s the story of the time I met an ugly pedophile airport predator with a cleft palate, one upper incisor, an attention deficit disorder, and an ex-wife who does voodoo.


About digs_teeth

Hello! Please accept my condolences regarding whatever happened to your local library. That's why you're reading this, right? Because your library burned down/was robbed by book bandits/was torn down and made into literacy rehabilitation clinic for sad teenagers? I hope your library is up and running again soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the words that I made by rubbing my face over a keyboard. I am a master's student studying Osteology and Paleopathology in the UK. I've worked on archaeological excavations in the U.S., Ireland, and Croatia, and I have spent time traveling in Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Hungary. I've carefully recorded my fieldwork in the form of journals and other necessary paperwork, but I have done little to document my interactions with the people I meet. To me, recording and cherishing interactions is just as important as recording the archaeology.

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