Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Licker

It has an interesting ring to it, doesn't it? So, as referenced yesterday, here's what happened...

Let's hop in the way-back machine, and travel to late fall of 2004. My baby truck finally gave up the ghost at Labor Day (*sob*) and I was driving my dad's Safari van. This is one of those minivans that has captains chairs with no console between in the front seats.

Whenever possible, my company would prefer that we not stay over when traveling for business so this particular day trip started at 4 am when I left for the airport for a 6:30 flight. (Just as a matter of personal quirk, I am not capable of paying $30/day to park in the garage at the airport. So, I always try to allow for enough time to park in the economy lot and take the shuttle over to the airport.) We flew to Atlanta, then drove two hours to the facility, were in meetings all day, drove back to Atlanta then took a red-eye back to Chicago. This flight, already leaving late in the day, was delayed for a couple of hours. So, I arrived back at the Chicago airport after midnight, heading into hour 21 or 22 of a very stressful day, lugging the four million and one things necessary in such meetings and I still had to trek to my car.

Of course there was a problem with the shuttle/train thing so it was nearly an hour later by the time I found myself wandering around the completely deserted parking lot, looking for my vehicle. I always get turned around after riding that tram and have to wander a fair bit to figure out which section is which.

I finally got myself oriented and headed in the right direction, and I found myself completely freaked out. I was utterly convinced that someone was following me. So I looked all around and couldn't see anyone, and I even altered my steps on the gravel and stopped a couple of times to see if I could hear anyone else walking. Nothing. You know those horror movies where it's quiet, too quiet? I was living one. I tend to be prone to the vulgarities of an overactive imagination, so I spent my walk trying to convince myself that I was just being, as usual, ridiculous and that by now I should really have outgrown this. No dice - I was still totally freaked out and all the hair on my neck and arms was sticking straight up.

An eternity later, I arrived at my vehicle. Standard operating procedure for me is to unlock the passenger side, dump my stuff on/around the seat, hit the inside unlock button, then circle the front of the van and hop into the driver's side. Well, I had gotten myself so creeped out that when I unlocked the passenger side, I leaped into the vehicle, slammed the door and hit the locks.

Then I laughed at myself for being such a ninny, turned in the seat, stood up and sat down on the drivers side. Still laughing at myself, I glanced up... and caught sight of the very large man standing directly outside my passenger window, looking in at me. Safari vans are high off the ground, and the guy was still looking directly across at me, so he had to be over six feet tall. I let out a shriek, that actually sounded more like a squeak and fumbled the keys into the ignition.

At that moment, I gained an all new appreciation for how a mouse feels, staring up at the cat and time kind of elongated. It took roughly four hours to get the keys in the ignition and start the van, and the whole time I stared directly into the eyes of the guy staring, unblinking, at me.

Now here's where it gets really creepy. Still holding my eyes, he bent down, put his tongue on the bottom of the window and licked all the way up the window. Gah! The van started and (Halleluiah!) went right into drive and I was so out of there! I think I skidded sideways into the pay lane.

He was long gone by the time I got to the pay booth. I told the girl working alone what happened and she called the airport security, but I don't think they ever saw him.

The next day, I told my boss what had happened and shortly thereafter, a memo went out saying that we were not to park in economy when our returning flights were expected after dark. As much as I was freaked out at the time, it wasn't until we were discussing it at lunch and someone else said something that it really hit me how lucky I was to have listened to my "overactive" imagination. I'm grateful now that I didn't manage to reason myself into circling the van to get in on the driver's side because whatever that guy was planning, he'd have had me before I made it. *shudder*

So, my thought o'the day is this: if your spidey senses are tingling and the hair on the back of your neck is telling you to run, do it. It's better to be silly and laughed at than to be a possible statistic.

1 comment:

Rurality said...

That was way too scary! It's a little crazy for the company to expect 24-hour days from you too!