I’d checked in my bag, curbside, at 11am for a 12:30pm flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to LaGuardia Airport in New York (LGA). I had time to kill before my flight, but instead of buying five magazines and a bottled water, I headed straight to the gate hoping to get some work done. Besides, my carry on felt as if it were too tired and heavy to carry on with our journey.
At noon, a bald man with a curiously castrato voice switched on a microphone behind a desk and pressed his lips into it. “I have some very bad news for you all,” he said as if he were asking the crowd who’d be the first to try on one of his twisted balloon crowns. “Your flight has been canceled due to thunderstorms in New York. What’s more, the flight after yours has been canceled, as well as the flight after that.” At least it was Saturday and I wasn’t missing any scheduled events… you know, aside from TIME WITH MY CHILDREN!
I would, as it turns out, be missing just one additional thing: my luggage. I should’ve known it was called M.I.A. for a reason. My bag, complete with all my shoes, hemmed jeans, perfectly-suited bras for each dress, my toiletries (namely, my antiperspirant), and jewelry—yes, I know, you should always keep your jewelry on you, but I’m on the road for two weeks, and I have different jewels for each outfit, so adding it to my carry on bag is like adding a saucepan. There’s just no room for it all.
I finally arrived in New York, but my luggage did not. “It’ll be on the next flight in.” But it’s 10PM, and I gave you guys my bags at 11AM. “These things happen,” the woman in the missing luggage room said.
*Here* This is what it comes down to. Want to know what someone is really like? Want to cut your relationship to the quick? Stick someone in the baggage claim area, and drive them to inspect each and every bag on that conveyor belt, and just see what their actions convey. I’ve often said that you cannot really know a person until the shit comes down. Well, when your shit doesn’t come down on that loopy belt–if you’re paying attention to the body language, the perspiration, the huffing–you’ll get a crash course in how a person handles stress.
I don’t know how the “bag lady” with the tag weighing between her breasts performs her job. She stands behind a podium and computer screen, searching for lost luggage. She’s the messenger everyone wants to pound into the ground. And I cannot imagine how many days she tolerates people screaming at her due to their frustrations. I have never been one of those people. As pissed, frizzed, frazzled, or hungry as I might be, I also realize it’s not her fault. How though, does a person manage with the daily abuse of strangers? How does she go home smiling at the end of the day, thinking happy thoughts about humanity? I’d lose it completely, which I suppose might be appropriate in the lost luggage department.
My bag was ultimately spotted, and I was able to pick it up THE NEXT DAY. The entire night without my things, I assumed the worst: that it was stolen. How could I ever replace all those clothes, those special items collected on my travels, the shoes that matched just so? It’s only stuff, but it’s stuff I’d miss. There’s no one preventing you from walking into the baggage claim area and rolling off with someone else’s belongings. In fact, if caught, you could always feign surprise, certain the Tumi luggage set in your hand really was yours. “My mistake,” you could cough up. And no one would think you were a thief. They’d speak with you in a softer tone, the one they should have used with the “bag lady.”