By Colleen Kosloski
A few years back when I was still in the Navy, I was traveling across the country for TDY. The whole creepy encounter started all the way back in the security line, although I didn’t realize it at the time. The man behind me in line must have seen me hand my military ID to the TSA agent so he struck up a conversation and told me he had been in the Navy- former Chief. He told me he was now a contractor working for the government and heading back home from a work trip. He handed me his business card. I was polite and chatted briefly and that was that. I will call him Contractor A.
When I reached my gate early, I decided to stop at one of the small gate-side cafes for a quick snack. Contractor A happens to be there too and sits down on the stool next to me. He continues to tell me about his time in the Navy and about his family back East- wife, kids, dog, etc. Innocent enough I think- former Navy guys always like to talk to other Navy folks and relive their glory days. I humored him and again, was polite. I finished eating and left the cafe.
They finally began boarding and what a coincidence (or so I thought)-Contractor A pops up right behind me in the boarding line- we are on the same flight. This time he seems to be standing way too close and keeps offering to help carry my bags. I politely decline and board the plane and sit in my aisle seat. When he gets on the plane he tells the person next to me that we are together and asks to trade seats. Even after I say “No- we aren’t together” the other person swaps because it gets him out of a middle seat. Good deal for him. When Contractor A sits down I notice the strong smell of alcohol on his breath. Here we go. Then his hand “accidentally” ends up touching my thigh as he fumbles for his seatbelt. “Sorry, haha,” he chuckles.
After takeoff, he turns to me and out of nowhere says, “Come on admit it. Don’t you find me just a little attractive?” I was shocked. Then he grabs my knee and asks if I’ll share my blanket with him. “No way,” I said. He kept leaning closer and touching my leg and asking me for “just a little kiss on the cheek.” I was so creeped out. I told him to move over and not to touch me again unless he wanted to get punched.” He finally fell asleep (passed out I think) but I couldn’t fall asleep the whole flight. When we landed, he woke up and acted like nothing had happened- didn’t even acknowledge me or say a word. Either he was so drunk that whole time and actually forgot everything, or was way too embarrassed to look at me- I’m not sure- but he got off that plane so fast and kept his distance. Looking back, I wished I had asked the flight attendants to switch seats to 1) get away from him and 2) embarrass him, but I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to make a scene. I am a strong, capable adult and I guess I knew I wouldn’t let it go further. But what about the young girls traveling alone or seated away from their parents? Who protects them from these creeps? I’m glad the passengers and flight crew were aware enough to intervene and help the girl in the article. And girls- it’s ok to make a scene, call them out. No need to be polite and protect these creeps from embarrassment. Maybe they will think twice next time.