2011, I was traveling to Spain to study abroad my freshman year of college. My mom had bought my plane ticket, how she usually books things. She does a lot of research, but in the end she gets so fed up, exhausted, and just buys the best looking one after looking at a thousand other tickets. She didn't realize she bought the cheapest, yet longest, plane ticket to Barcelona. I had a ten hour layover in the Heathrow Airport in London overnight. I knew I would too, but I had just planned to sleep in the chairs at the airport.
I got into Heathrow 28 DEC 2011 at 10:40pm American Airlines Flight #90. I don't know what terminal I flew into, but it was old and wasn't very big. It didn't meet my expectations of what the London airport would look like. I was to fly out at 07:30 the next morning, so I looked for a place to sit for awhile. A man approached me, older man, probably in his forties. I thought maybe he worked for the airport, because there was no one else around and he was telling me that I had to leave the airport. He said that the airport closed at night, and everyone had to leave. It was the weirdest thing! I have traveled a lot, I've slept in the Seattle airport overnight. Was this a London thing? I was eighteen years old, with maybe a couple hundred dollars to get me through the next semester in Spain. I couldn't afford to get a $100 hotel for just one night. I panicked. He was telling me I HAD to leave, I had no money, no phone, no taxi, and I had all my luggage with me. I had JUST gotten internet on my phone for the first time that fall, but international data and calling wasn't really a thing back then. This older man looked worried for me, and offered to help. He said he knew people, and could get a me a good deal on a hotel, and take me there. After panicking and talking with him, he said he would help me if I came with him. So I blindly started following him. I saw one path that night, and knew it wasn't a good one, so I slowly, unsure, was pulled down it. It was almost midnight in the London airport now, no one else was there, and it was dark. He led me down a long in-door tunnel. I just remember it was hard floors and walls, and it went on forever. He walked in front of me, and I followed him with my luggage, scared, knowing I shouldn't but had no other choice. I followed him for a good 100 meters, we were still in the tunnel, unsure of where it led to.
I stopped, and told him that I was going to go back. I'd rather risk getting in trouble by airport security for not leaving the airport, then blindly follow a strange man outside of the London airport. I'm a rebel like that, fuck the rules of the airport, I'm staying put. He asked if I was sure, I said yes, and he let me go. I wonder if he let me go because we were still in the airport, and it would have just been to risky to snatch me there. To this day, I wonder who he was and what his motives were. I try not to be dramatic and jump to conclusions, but WHO DOES THAT!? What kind of older man, in the Heathrow airport, helps a young teenage girl get a hotel outside of the airport? What was he doing there? He had no luggage, and no uniform or name tag. For years, I haven't been able to come up with an answer other than he probably was going to take me.
I found a chair outside of security in the airport, and sat down. I put my arms and legs through whatever holes on my luggage I could find so no one would steal them while I slept. Twisting myself into my luggage, I fell asleep sitting up in a chair with my blindfold over my eyes. The only thing that was stolen that morning was the water bottle on the side of my backpack. I'll take it.