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Travel Baggage

Staying grounded in the unfriendly skies

by Scott McNutt

There's a reason we have the old saying, "You can't take it with you." It's because if you try, you'll still be standing at the Great Baggage Claim in the Sky when final boarding is announced for your connecting flight to heaven.

Even then, you might dash to catch your plane, desperately racing around Purgatory Municipal Airport trying to follow the signs to Pearly Gates 27E-33Q, only to inadvertently step onto the Moving Sidewalk to Nowhere in Particular and find yourself carried along by the crowd into a bus going to the Terminal Terminal, which of course is in the complete opposite direction of your particular Pearly Gate. In frustration, you illegally light up a cigarette in the Lounge of Lost Souls, after which you are detained in customs and eventually sent straight to hell.

You scoff? You believe the afterlife must be better organized than this? Hey, God made the world and everything in it, right? If He designed the airports I've been through, I have no faith He did a better job with His own transportation systems.

In case you haven't guessed, I do not like airports. In fact, I am opposed to airports and everything they represent, which is traveling any distance farther than that between my couch and my refrigerator. When I must travel, I do not shrink from making known how the adversities of travel upset me. I'll say, for instance, "Dadgumit! There's a piece of a rat in my airplane meal again! I ordered the vegetarian!"

Of all the adversities inherent to airports in particular and travel in general, baggage is the worst. When traveling, baggage rules your life. You must keep constant track of it, because life will be miserable without it (I've known folks more concerned about losing baggage than children while traveling; in fact, I'm one of them). And, of course you must carry it, because if you check it through, the airport will gleefully lose, spindle, and mutilate it. So, because you actually want your luggage to end up the same place you do, you shove everything into your two carry-on bags. And you end up trying to fit these two bags, which look like short, square, vinyl pythons that just swallowed an antelope, into overhead compartments that are spacious if you are a hamster.

Despite all this, I do sometimes travel, because my Significant Sweetie is an ardent admirer of all things travel-related. We have very different travel philosophies. Mine can best be summed up as "Don't!" But when I must, I like to be very prepared for the trip. The slightest variation in schedule is liable to leave me completely discombobulated, huddled in a ball, twitching spasmodically. So my idea of being on time for a flight is pitching a tent in the airport lobby a week before take-off.

In contrast, my Sweetie's travel philosophy could best be expressed as "Go! Go! Go! Faster! Faster!" Her notion of arriving on time for a flight is driving the car up alongside the plane as it taxis down the runway, convincing a stewardess to open the emergency exit, then leaping on board just as the car runs off a cliff and explodes in a fiery crash. For her, no schedule deviation is so great that it cannot be overcome by going six or seven times the speed limit.

Though no luggage lover, my Sweetie's prone to bringing "useful items" to the airport. On the way, she'll have us sort through these, choose those most applicable for this particular journey, and then somehow she'll squeeze our selections into her purse (which doesn't count as luggage). You try sifting through extra socks, chewing gum, computers, tourniquets, stationary, sedatives, etc. in a car speeding toward the edge of a cliff. It's not easy. Especially when you are busy huddling into a ball, twitching.

So if you believe you can take it with you to the Great Baggage Claim in the Sky, just remember: it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a passenger to get more than two pieces of carry-on luggage on a plane. But, if you can fit that camel into your purse...

June 29, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 26
© 2000 Metro Pulse