I travel quite a bit for work. I’ve been to Boston, New York, San Francisco and Phoenix this past month and it’s typically not a big deal. I prepare the kids, prep my husband, arrange childcare, leave detailed notes and off I go to the airport and onto a series of meet & greets, meetings, etc.
Maybe it’s me turning 40 – doing grown up things like saving for retirement, buying houseplants, mammograms, parent teacher conferences, you know – real adulting stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about being a woman traveling alone but this last trip unnerved me.
I knew it was going to be a strange trip. First, I ended up sitting next to this on the first flight.
When I arrived in Phoenix, at 11 PM , I made the familiar path to the car rental place to pickup whatever box on wheels I rented. I typically use the kiosk because I’d rather deal with a machine than people at 11 PM local time (2 AM EST). But tonight there was a man lurking near the rental kiosk – not even sure what bothered me about him but it was enough that I joined the stupid line to get the car. No big deal, there are usually creepy people at 11 PM in airports, right?
Then I got to the hotel around 12 PM, pulled around back to find one of the few parking spaces available. Good lighting, familiar hotel – I stay there every time I come out. As I’m walking around the side of the hotel, I notice a shadow coming out from the trees. It’s a man. A naked man, holding his privates. As he walked by me, he told me that he was looking for his clothes and then proceeded to the trash area to presumably look for his clothes. I laughed about it as I checked in and the front desk clerk called the police. Happens all the time, right?
And then the last night of my visit, I woke up to someone turning the door handle on my hotel room door on the interconnecting door, which of course was locked but still. It was probably just a kid or something, but maybe at 2 AM it wasn’t. Maybe the loud noises I heard in the hallway weren’t scary as hell as I sat in my hotel room thinking about how screwed I’d be if someone barged in. Because of course, I’d fight back and scream like hell but if there was more than one person – what really were my options? I was alone, in pink pajamas.
I’ve never felt scared before. Scared about traveling alone. Scared about losing everything I have, not seeing my family, scared about not seeing my kids grow up. Not that there’s anything I can do about it – not that I’m going to stop traveling for work but it did make me think.
Next time, I’m not parking in the back of the hotel. Next time, I’m requesting a room without an interconnecting door. What else do you do to not feel vulnerable?