This is an encounter from about 10 years ago, it took place in the Milwaukee, WI airport.
I was nineteen, recently independent, discovering my identity. In doing so, I had found and developed a relationship on myspace, with a girl from North Carolina. I was infatuated. We talked online, video chatted, texted, & called each other CONSTANTLY for 6 months, until we finally figured out how to meet in person. She came to visit, it was perfection, I was obsessed, and that was that. (we’re still together, to this day.) Then it came time for her to fly back to North Carolina.
Here is where things start to go wrong. She had a flight to catch, and I was dragging my feet, trying to absorb every last moment and commit it to memory, as I didn’t know how long it would be until I got to see her again. We boarded a city bus, bags in tow, and headed to the airport. The bus trip took longer than we had anticipated, and when we reached the airport it was 5 minutes until boarding. We ran to luggage check in, only to be told, she had missed her flight. My lolly gagging had made her miss her flight. Shit. A small part of me was secretly happy, but I had no idea what to do, I didn’t have a car, or any money to get her another flight. However, the woman at the luggage counter found her another seat on a later flight. 8 hours later. Again, I had no car, I was planning on riding the bus back home. We really couldn’t leave the airport easily, so we looked for a spot to post up for a few hours. No problem, she had her laptop, and some blankets and pillows meant for use in flight. We could hang out for a little while longer, I was actually looking forward to the additional time together.
So, we set off in search of somewhere to sit down and stretch out for a few hours, meanwhile I called my roommate at the time and asked if she could come down and bring some food, and my wallet I had left at home. We combed the airport and found an empty “Family Room”, complete with chairs, love seat, and plenty of wall outlets. Even better, it had a door! There was also a large bathroom, but the door was closed. The airport was pretty desolate, and there was no one waiting to use the room, so we sat our stuff down, plugged in our computers, got out some pillows and snuggled down to watch a movie while we waited. My roommate showed up and we directed her to the room, over the phone. She brought snacks & drinks, and decided to wait with us and give me a ride home after. Cool. Only like, six more hours to go.
The three of us sat in the secluded room, watching movies, my roommate mostly on the phone with her girlfriend. Eventually, sometime during our second movie we were startled by the sound of the door opening. Only, it wasn’t the door we came through, which had been closed this entire time…
It was the bathroom door. A man walked through the door and sat down across from us. He had been in that bathroom, the entire time we were in here. None of us had bothered to check the bathroom. The light was on, but there hadn’t been any sound coming from it. The man sitting across from us was average height, a bit overweight. Dark hair, olive skin. His hair was wet, and he was holding a towel, running it over his head and scrubbing at his hair, the way you do when you’ve just finished a shower…
He didn’t have on any shoes. He was barefoot. He had no luggage with him. He was wearing khaki cargo shorts, a white undershirt, and an unbuttoned hawaiian print shirt over the top. At this point, he was sitting across from us, sitting casually, as if he hadn’t been in the bathroom for more than 2 hours, silently. Eventually, he broke the tension in the room, by asking us where we were flying to. We answered as casually as possible, without giving away any information about ourselves. We asked him where HE was going, and he said “Oh, wherever the wind takes me.” Okay, we were vague, but that was just straight up avoidance. I tried asking where he was from next. “Oh, nowhere. I have no home country.” Wait, what? I was confused, I tried to ask him where he had come from, was he local to this city? “No, no I am from nowhere, I just go wherever.”
Okay, so now I am thinking, maybe he is homeless, and was just using the bathroom to clean up. No big deal, he will wander off eventually, right? My roommate got up to go find better cell reception, and walked out the door we came in through, intentionally leaving it wide open. I could see a few people walking around now, and I immediately felt better. The door is open, he can walk out whenever, we can walk out whenever, people can see us. Everything is all right.
My roommate wanders back in and sits down, and we hunker down for another movie. By now the man is dozing off in the arm chair he sat in, and we did our best to ignore him, making sure the door was left open and people could see us.
Sometime during the millionth movie we were watching, we made a crucial mistake. We got bored & sleepy. We dozed off. Stupid. Incredibly stupid, but it’s one of those things, you don’t realize you’ve even done until you’re waking up. What we woke up to, is forever engrained in my memory.
Hard banging on the door, the shouting of police officers, something about opening the door and walking out with hands up. My eyes dart to the door, why can’t they open the door? There isn’t a lock. I see it, at the bottom, maybe three or four industrial box cutters, shoved underneath, wedged in to keep the door from opening. My mind is reeling. What the fuck is going on? He locked himself in here with us? How could I have fallen asleep, how could we ALL have fallen asleep??
The man starts talking, “Okay, okay, no problem I will open the door, hang on, just a minute.” He walks over to the door, and pulls the box cutters from under the door, sliding their blades back into their hulls, and places them in the pocket of his cargo shorts. He opens the door, and the police immediately hand cuff him, and escort him away, all the while he is explaining that he just wanted privacy and didn’t mean any harm.
Sure, dude. You needed box cutters shoved under the door, for “privacy” while you’re in a secluded room with three 19 year old girls? Right. The police asked us if we were okay, and explained that they had been looking for him. Apparently he had a habit of coming to that airport and hiding out, harassing people, and being a general nuisance. We assured the police that we were okay, unharmed, just rattled by the whole situation. In the end, we never did find out where he was from, or where he was going. So, Man from Nowhere, let’s not meet again.