Monday, February 23, 2009

Heads or Tails - "Case" - 2/23/09

This weeks Heads or Tails prompt is Case. I wrote the following true account of a suitcase I once owned:

In 1995, my sons were attending college in North Carolina and I was living in Wyoming. It was the summer before their senior year and I found a nice package deal that would allow us to attend baseball games at Yankee and Shea Stadium in New York and Fenway Park in Boston as well as a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. None of us had ever been to any of those venues. The package included all tickets, lodging, and transportation. All we had to do was get to New York City. They arranged their travel from Charlotte and I took care of the rest. A few days of father/son stuff.

Rick and Josh arrived in New York before I did and were waiting for me at my arrival gate at LaGuardia. You could actually do that prior to 9/11, walk right up to the gate. We hurried to baggage claim so we could start our New York adventure as soon as possible. After the normal delay, the bell rang, light glowed amber, and the conveyor belt began to roll. All the passengers from my flight began to circle the carousel, assuming their bags had actually accompanied them on the flight. Experienced travelers are always hopeful, tempered with doubt.

Bags appeared and began their slow journey down the conveyor and around the carousel. It was a packed flight, so there was a pretty good crowd. We had chosen a good position to acquire my bag and be on our way. Even though the baggage carousel appears to be creeping along, retrieving a bag is always done in a bit of a panic.

Suddenly, amidst the assortment of bags, appeared a tube of toothpaste and a sock. Everyone chuckled. Then there were some other articles of clothing and toiletries making the rounds. More laughs and even I made a comment about the poor person whose personal items were on display. The second time around, I made a devastating realization. I recognized one of my shirts. Had I been wealthy, I would have left the airport immediately and just purchased new everything. But had I been well-to-do, I probably would not be the owner of a suitcase that had been patched with assorted colors of duct tape. Though I had traveled extensively in my 20 years in the Air Force, Bataan Death March participants carried nicer luggage than I did. And now everyone on American Airlines Flight 2397 and their friends and family were aware of that fact.

I had no option other than to begin reclamation of my belongings. Eventually, my bag also appeared, gaping open and nearly empty. From the passage of the first items, both my sons had distanced themselves from me, pretending not to know me, so I was pretty much on my own as I scurried about on this sad salvage mission, like a contestant in some sort of white trash game show. When I had recovered most of my property (not too interested in reobtaining the toothbrush), I found that the latch was mortally wounded and the case would never close again. So, we left the airport with me holding the case in my arms like the dead soldier that it was.

The deluxe package billeted us in a four-star hotel in Manhattan, which added to my humiliation, as we were forced into the services of a bellhop. Taking one look at the state of my suitcase, the bellman correctly assumed tips were going to be meager. While for many New York tourists, bellhops and cab drivers are a source of drugs and prostitutes, I employed them to obtain some duct tape and twine, which In Midtown Manhattan are much harder to score.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Haha! I love this story. Love ya Carly

Mountain Muddah said...

This is beyond funny!! I can just picture the whole scenario. I must say though, that you must have been absolutely desperate to stand there and reclaim the contents of that suitcase! I'm sure Rick was totally disgusted and humiliated (as he was with me when I pulled out my maxed-out credit card with him present) and Josh was trying his best not to wet himself from laughter! Good grief, this is sooo funny!!

silverneurotic said...

LOL, that sounds like something that would happen to me. Thankfully though, whenever I have traveled-I've been blessed with new luggage.

Sue said...

Oh dear! Thankfully I have not had a similar experience. Happy HOT day :)

myrtle beached whale said...

Mountain Muddah: Yeah, as you can imagine, Rick tried to disappear.

silverneurotic: wow, that is amazing. I don't think even Donald Trump buys new luggage every time he travels. You ARE blessed.

bundleocontradictions said...

Yeah, that's exactly the kind of experience I see myself having!
Thanks for sharing, I needed a smile.

Skittles said...

I'm beginning to see what a terrific storyteller you are! I could picture everything happening as I was reading. I could even "see" the looks on your son's faces as they backed away.

*Applause* :)

Tumblewords: said...

What a hoot - sorry it happened, but since it did, I'm glad you chose to share!

Anna said...

While I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, it sure was funny to read. I especially liked the part where you scurried about like a contestant on some white trash game show!

I do hope the rest of your vacation was much, much better.

Robyn Jones said...

That's freakin hilarious!! You will be my husbands hero...He thinks duct tape is for everything...He would just keep taping that thing till you couldn't see the material....LOL!

Shadow said...

oh my word! i've just learnt a lesson in being pretty careful about what i pack in my bag next time... just in case, heee heee heee

HalfCrazy said...

Were you a part of the Bataan Death March?

Hahaha, and poor you, chasing after those belongings. They should have asked before they put it on the conveyor belt!

Much Love,

Tricia said...

Oh my, the only consolation I could offer is at least you got your stuff! I once vacationed for a week with the clothes on my back because the airline lost my luggage. Imagne my dismay when I finally got it back and realized it had a much better vacation than I did, having been to California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Missouri.

myrtle beached whale said...

Tricia:

I am sure you have heard this very old joke:

A guy who goes up to the ticket counter in Boston with 2 pieces of luggage to be checked for his flight back to San Diego. He tells the person at the counter that he would like one of his bags to go to Denver and the other one to go to Honolulu. The counter person stated that they were unable to accomodate such a request. The passenger states..."really, you did it last time I flew to San Diego."

Misty Dawn said...

I can just picture your sons slowly stepping further and further away. This is a GREAT and hilarious story! All three of you will remember this forever.

Michelle said...

I just love this story... it's sad and funny all at the same time! I really woulda helped you gather you toiletries, you know that, right? ;)

Redheels said...

Hilarious story!! I loved the part about your kids moving away and pretending not to know you...lol

Great story.

Anonymous said...

As I sit at my desk, amidst a grueling Thurs afternoon....you come to mind. One of our salespeople just returned from a show and as usual she has brought trinkets for all of us. They are electronic, flashing luggage tags. While different from your story, yet luggage related I am reminded of my father. A WWII pilot, who after the war, hated to fly, but did as was needed by his career as an Air Traffic Controller. Hating to wait anyway, compounded by jangled nerves and being accompanied by generic gray luggage which he could never decipher from others when it arrived at the claim area. His fear and frustration would fog his ability to recognize his bags from the gazillion other gray bags. Having a stroke of genius, he found some 2in diameter lemon yellow dots that were sprinkled hither and yon on the exterior of all of our luggage like some sort of "destination disease". I hated if and when I needed to use that stuff.

Anyway, I just thought how much he would have apprecited this blinking luggage tag. I can only say I am relieved he never experienced what you did. I cannot imagine the expletives that would have been shared with all the others at the claim area.