Being a regional flight attendant has all sorts of positive and negative aspects to it. It means you get to go places you would never think of going. Sometimes that is a good thing and you find those hidden jewels, and sometimes it is a bad thing, and you get bored out of your skull. Other times it leads to slightly ridiculous behavior.
I’ll tell you the story of one of those.
Marquette, Michigan, a small college town in the Upper peninsula of Michigan. This story is not actually about the town of Marquette as I have never actually been to the town. My experiences of Marquette are limited to the small airport and hotel that we stay in that is near the airport. I believe the actual town of Marquette is about an hour away.
My first winter of flying was full of long over nights in Marquette. I have heard that it is beautiful there in the summer time, that there is a lake with a beach within walking distance that you can swim at. Of course I never laid over there in the summer time. This left my impressions of Marquette, or more accurately the area near the airprt of Marquette, as a desolate frozen land of endless hills covered in naked trees and the occasional ever green, with no other signed of civilization outside the small complex I was staying on.
My least favorite part of going to Marquette was the hotel we stayed in there, called the Red Fox Inn. Complex is is a good term for it and well, it was simply a horrid, horrid place, though everyone who worked there was very nice. It was once an army barracks and officers quarters. So this is not some multiple floored hotel with an elevator . It was indeed a small complex of small building with concrete steps and two by four handrails. At some point, no one seems to know why, the army up and left, and they just left everything. If the furniture and state of the place is any indicator, I would say sometime in the late seventies or early eighties. Someone had the brilliant and obvious idea of declaring squatters right and making it a hotel that served only flight crews, long haul truckers, and I assume the random bank robber on the run. The rooms had industrial grade carpet that a person very well may use as sand paper. The furniture was all made of particle board with the stickers that look like wood grain peeling off at all the corners. The beds, I specifically remember, had the very plastic and cheap thin comforters that seem to be quilted with fishing line and pink sheets. I always wondered, why pink? Was it a bad attempt to cheer up the place? Would it make blood stains caused by the random ax murderer wandering the woods less obvious?
Why would I assume there would be an ax murderer in the woods? Good question. Hopefully, this is not just the natural path of my mind. No I wondered that becauce it was wildly reputed that the Red Fox Inn was haunted. Not by an ax murderer, that’s just where my mind went. I remember the first few times I flew into Marquette the pilots would always ask if I knew it was haunted and would often have small tid bids of odd things happening during their past overnights. There wasn’t an old story of a wandering pale figure or anything. I assume the general desolateness and isolation of the place is what inspired this superstition. There were just little things. Such as electronics being unplugged in the night, strange noises, lights switches randomly flicking to the off position. The hotel would always leave a fruit cup and a donut in the fridge for the flight crews for a breakfast, but you were supposed to leave the donut for the ghost.
Little did these pilots know that I was, and am, incredibly susceptible to ghost stories, or anything of a creepy super natural nature. Ridiculously so, that at this point in life I have conceded to my husband that I should never ever watch movies having to do with ghosts, or exorcism. It leads to my desire to sleep with the lights on, much like a five year old would. Of course, outwardly I would laugh off their (successful) attempts to scare me as they told these stories on the van ride to the hotel, but in the back of my mind I was already attempting not to pchyc myself into have a terrifying night, despite the fact that nothing indeed would happen, except my constant jumping at every small sound.
On my very first night in Marquette, after taking in the initial bleakness of my surroundings, I noticed what was the strangest part of the rooms. I can to this day, picture clearly in my mind, the bathrooms. The showers were black. They had black walls, and even stranger, black ceilings. The rooms had exceptionally high ceilings and it was just these long solid plastic panels all the way up the wall and the ceiling. What on earth would make someone deliberately make a shower stall black in the first place, much less put in a plastic panel on the ceiling that was black as well? I just saw these long yawning black jaws. I hated those showers and would always take the kind of shower that would have made my dad proud; three minute or less.
On my first night I got one of the larger rooms, and old officers’ apartment, with multiple bedrooms and a small kitchen. This didn’t really sit well with my plan of just keeping the TV on all night. Apparently, in my mind, the TV being on equates with keeping any boogie men at bay. There wasn’t a TV in the bedroom, nor did the place have wireless with which I could watch something on my lap top. It did however have a TV in the living room. I did my usual room check that I do when ever I get into my hotel room, “Any one under the bed? Nope. Anyone behind the curtains? Nope. Anyone in the closet? Nope.” I changed out of my uniform, the whole time thinking to myself “Don’t think about the ghosts, don’t think about the ghosts…” Shocking as this may be, this did not keep the idea of ghosts out of my mind.
As it got late, it grew dark. Not the city kind of dark I am used to with street lamps and car lights, but the kind of dark I would experience when I would go camping in Wyoming, miles from anything. True blackness, and true silence This silence served to make any noises stand out like a crack. Every time I heard any little sound, the refrigerator clicking on, or the very occasional vehicle outside on the highway, my heart would pound. The ghosts! Come to do….well I didn’t know what, but terrifying and heinous things for sure! I sat up late watching television, laying out on the couch. It had a very scratchy weave of fabric so I went to the bed room and hauled off the blankets. I made myself a little cocoon on the couch, shielding my from the scratchy fabric and keeping me cozy.
As the night wore on I tried to get myself to get up off that couch, and get into bed like any normal mature adult. Just get up, walking in and go to sleep. But as I got more tired, that more rational part of my brain most certainly fell completely asleep, while the rest of my brain stayed awake in true paranoia. You know everything is scarier at night. I just couldn’t make myself get up and go into that dark and quiet room, with the attached bathroom and the black shower stall in view of the bed, just leering at me, making me think there must have been some ominous reason that the showers were made black. Maybe that’s where the ghosts lived.
Now I would like to say that it just got late and I dozed off on the couch, but I would be lying. At some point, I gave up the flight and gave into my fear. I decided to simply sleep there on the couch, instead of face what was, in actuality, an empty bedroom with bad furniture and a shower someone had made a very unfortunate decorating decision with. I slept there on that couch all night, eventually turning off the light but leaving the television on low volume, the flickering light of it occasionally interrupting my sleep.
The next morning I woke up, and so did my rational brain. In the bright light of day I was a little embarrassed of myself. I knew I would never be so foolish at to tell the pilots that they attempts to scare me were wildly successful or confess how silly I had been, for as every new flight attendant quickly learns, the ribbing would never end. I hauled my bags down the steps like I had not spent the night on the couch when there was a bed available. However, I did leave the donut, just in case.
*JUST SO YOU KNOW* after my initial experience and several long over nights there I was, in fact, able to sleep in the bedrooms, in the beds, with the lights and television off. Though, I always took short showers.