As an illegal alien I had developed some different fears because of my situation. My greatest fear was being deported. It was not the embarrassment of being sent back to Jamaica and never being able to come back. I feared losing all I had built here and also the deportation process. I heard the horror stories of Krome detention center where illegal aliens are sent before being deported. Being deported was my biggest fear and all my other fears were tied to that one. Even my fear of flying was tied to it.
I never knew I had a fear of flying until I flew to New York for Uncle Teddy’s wedding. At the time Sue came with me. She recognized it and kept me distracted for the whole trip. She took charge of me. It was not just the flight but just entering the airport that I feared. I have no problem picking up or dropping someone at the airport but the thought of leaving was another story. I was paranoid. What if they sent me to the immigration line? What if they checked my name in the immigration system? There would be no Sue to take charge.
Scott told me I would be flying to Dallas, Texas for training 2 weeks before I was to get on the flight. The words see to come out his mouth on slow motion. It echoed in my head. Initially the training class was in Orlando but it was changed.
For the next 2 weeks I was agonizing over flying. I tried to get over the anxiety I was having. I tried rationalizing it in my head by telling myself the benefits of the new job. The biggest being the salary. I was happy having a 4 year degree; however, it put me in a mountain of credit debt. I was determined to finish college and using a credit card was the only way to do it. I was fortunate that I had a driver’s license that helped me prove I was a Florida resident. That allowed me to pay in-state fees rather than the triple rate foreign students and illegal aliens pay. It was still a lot of money. I was living from paycheck to paycheck.
Mr. Brown was also going to be moving to Atlanta and I would have to find a new tenant for his room. I already gave John the heads up on this to start looking for a renter for me. My training was the last stage of me being a manager. My raise from being a manager would help defer some of the cost of losing Mr. Brown as a tenant.
I thought about asking Scott if I could move the date. I thought about calling in sick. None of which made me look like the competent manager I needed to become. All managers make sacrifices; it is a part of the job of being a manger.
The person who seemed the most excited for me was Donesha. When I told her she needed to make arrangements for a ride home because of my flight.
“I can’t wait for the day I can Fly on a plane again”, she said.
In an effort to hide my fear I replied, “You can within the USA”
“You are right”, she replied. “I always forget that. In fact we almost honeymooned in Puerto Rico. It is like traveling locally”
The night before I had to travel I had a nightmare. I dreamt I was on the plane in my seat when they mentioned there was a slight delay. Some uniformed men boarded the plane and was checking ID for every passenger. They seemed to be matching it against a pre-printed list. When the uniformed men came to my row, I felt like I was going faint.
I woke up from the dream. It was almost time to go to the airport. I was feeling miserable; not only did I have a sleepless night. I got up 3 times that night to do a “number 2”. My stomach was uneasy.
Steven was taking me to the airport. At first he was not happy that I was moving to management but then he believed it would be an advantage to have a black Jamaican manager. I would be the first black manager at the store.
“Yuh okay?” Steven asked.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Yuh look pale likah duppy.”
I gave a fake laugh.
My stomach was churning inside and my head was pounding. The loud dancehall music Steven was playing in his car did not help.
Steven drove like a manic. I never liked driving with him. I was tired so I shut me eyes. I was not sure when we stopped but when I opened my eyes there were lights flashing behind us. We were pulled over by a bike cop.
The cop was a lady. She asked no questions.
Good morning. You know you were going 20 over the speed limit, she said abruptly.
“Where are you going?”
“To the airport,” Steven replied.
Well I guess you are going to be late she responded sarcastically.
She told us to stay in the car. She asked Steven for all his driver license and insurance which he quickly produced.
I was now in a state of panic. Another one of my fears took over. It was the fear of any authority power that could turn me over to immigration for deportation. I kept quite while she looked over the papers. She then said do not move. She went back to her bike for a minute. She came back and handed Steven a speeding ticket.
We drove off. Steven was “cussing” all the way to the airport. I was glad it was over and she did not ask me any questions. Maybe I can make it to the plane on time as I still had 1/2 hour. It was not going to happen. Every stop light caught us. Every Florida senior and Canadian was on the road driving slowly.
I got to the terminal 10 minutes after the flight was to depart. I ran to the ticket counter hoping the flight was delayed.
I was out of luck. There was no one in line at the ticket counter. The lady at the counter asked for my ticket. I was praying it had not left.
“Sir I am so sorry, the flight left. The gate already closed”.
I was disappointed. I had built up myself to be on a flight that left.
We can put you on the next flight
When is it.
It will be in 4 hours
I had to do four more hours of waiting. I was stuck at the airport. To be on the safe side I checked in and headed to the gate.
I was hungry and the price of the food in the airport gate area was twice the price of what I would pay outside the airport. I had to eat. I ate and tried to find an isolated seat in the terminal area. I wanted to be alone while I waited for my flight and get over my fear.
I people watched as they came in and out of the terminal. It was amazing how much you notice with time on your hands.
There were the weird hair styles that people had. There were 3 that really stood out. A man that was bald on the top, but had hair on the side. His hair was a mess and looked like Homey the clown a character for the TV show, “In Living Color”. A man with his hair dyed blood red who was wearing a red outfit. Even his shoes were red. Then there was an older lady with orange hair. Her hairdo was protruding sideways like a big horn.
It was also interesting watching mothers trying to control their children. American children are spoilt and seem to control their parents. In Jamaica you could never get away with what they do. They talk back to parents and threaten to call child welfare. In Jamaica these kids would get some “big licks”. Even though we did not get many “big licks” we knew we had to respect our parents. When we were acting up all we got was the “look”. One lady nearby was arguing with her 6 year old. He was having a temper tantrum and threw a bag he was wearing on his back to ground. He was screaming “no” as his mother kept telling him he should pick it up. I knew how it was going to end. She would eventually pick up the bag for him and carry it. In Jamaica most parents would have given him a “backsiding” right there.
I got bored after a while and found myself dozing off to sleep. Just when I was about to get into a deep sleep I heard someone speaking Jamaican patois. It was a Jamaican gentleman walking with 2 other people. They had lots of luggage. They were probably carrying mangoes and other Jamaican delights for someone living here.
An Air Jamaica flight had just landed and passengers were disembarking at a gate near the terminal I was in. I could see the passengers as they walked by headed out the airplane.
It was disheartening watching the Jamaican people arriving from Jamaica. I envied them. It was a stark reminder that I had no hope. It was at that moment I made up my mind that I had to get my green card by any means necessary. At that very moment my fear of flying was gone. I told myself that one day very soon it will be me arriving from Jamaica back to the US…legally.