March 09, 2008

The Saga of the Missing Suitcases

Yes, I am wearing clean underwear.

I sought internet access today just to make that announcement. I know that's too much information for some of my readers, but at least one person reading my blog (that is, my mother) has been wondering about those lost suitcases.

You'd think, since my luggage was lost the last time I was traveled, I would be prepared for such a situation, and that I would have thought carefully about what I put in my carry-on bag. But the reality is that when my husband and I sat down to look at what we had with us after getting off the plane, we came up with an impressive amount of technology (his cell phone, my laptop, my digital camera, plus cords and chargers), some books and journals and writing utensils, and several plastic bags of food, but not a single item of clothing, unless you count the mittens shoved in the bottom of my bag, which would no doubt come in very handy when hiking in the southwest desert.

Once we had filled out the forms in the airport and climbed into the rental car, I gave the suitcases up as lost, with the idea that we'd get them back eventually in Snowstorm City. I was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a fleece, and light hiking boots, and I figured that I could make the outfit last all week. But my husband saw the lost suitcases as a challenge.

Throughout the day, while we were driving southwest, he made phone calls to a series of incompetent airline employees, who all kept contradicting each other. One person would say, "Oh, the bags are still in Midwestern City," and another person would say, in a deeply sincere tone, "The bags are definitely on the 4:20 flight to Sky High City," and then another person would say, "My records show the bags are still in Snowstorm City." They all claimed to be getting this information from a computer screen.

My husband, who has way more patience than I do, just kept calling airports and saying in a calm voice, "I need to talk to someone who is actually looking at our suitcases." Near the end of the day, he talked to a young woman who verified that the suitcases had finally arrived in Sky High City. She had actually seen them and tagged them. This would have been happy news if we were still in Sky High City, but we had been driving for a good part of the day, and that meant we were hundreds of miles away from the suitcases.

By then my husband was on a first-name basis with several of the employees of the airline; they had come to see him in charge of the situation, since clearly no one else was, and were pretty much doing whatever he told them. "Just put the bags on the 6:40 flight to Little Airport in the Middle of Nowhere," I heard him say. He was still using the same calm, rational tone he'd used on the first twenty phone calls, while simultaneously driving the rental car at the edge of a cliff that had no guard rails whatsoever.

The next morning, just after dawn, we pulled up to Little Airport in the Middle of Nowhere, and my husband returned moments later, triumphantly, with our suitcases. How extravagant it seemed to have clean shirts, clean underwear, and clean socks. We could use toothbrushes again — and hairbrushes. Our lives seemed suddenly luxurious.


Brigindo said...

Your husband sounds like quite the gem. I'm loving the pics and stories of your adventure.

KathyR said...

Yeah, whatever it is that gives him that temperament, I will pay to get some. Less than 24 hours without my bags, I was a screeching lunatic.

Does it seem to anyone else that this happens more often?

Kait said...

Oh man, I know what this is like. My parents' luggage was lost when they came to England for my graduation, and it came about an hour after my graduation ended. But I know what that's like, having to deal with airline people who give conflicting!

Fortunately, I told them before they came, "Don't worry about toothbrushes and shampoo and the like. I'll buy all that for you." I was glad that I did. :)

kathy a. said...

when i was traveling with kids, i always used to remember to put the bare necessities in the carry-on, just in case. not so much anymore, usually.

the one time my luggage was well and truly lost, i was meeting some online friends for the first time. at least i had a toothbrush. someone lent me a t-shirt and jammie-pants. i washed my lonely pair of undies in the sink. good thing we were already friendly.

Silver Creek Mom said...

My Husband would try to be that calm thoughout it all but we get of the phone and swear up a storm.
Glad you got them. I like clean underwear.

adjunct whore said...

it is so important to have a patient, calm, rational partner in such circumstances. i can't even get through an entire phone call with most (fill in the blank, mostly banks) without losing it entirely.

but what i really wanted to say after reading all of your vacation posts is thank you for sharing them. the photos and your narrative brings me there and i love that particular there.

kate5kiwis said...

so glad you're both in touch with your underwear now jo(e)

have just noticed that there are 102 Messages Of Jo(e)'s accrued in my bloglines: i think i've been Subconsciously Swearing Off Jo(e) while i've been waving off my baby to university/college.
i think that's probably because i find you so poignant, so in tune with your kids and mothering (ok, and The Whole Wide World), and i've needed all my energy for me'n'mine.

but am happy to report that Number One Son has been fabulously anchored in The Big Smoke for a whole week and is looking great and a whole five more years grown up (via skype).
and i'm ok, finally, with that.

takes a while, huh X
PS really looking forward to catching up on three months at jo(e)'s!

Lilian said...

Your husband is awesome!!! I think mine would have solved the problem as well, but not as calmly! ;-)

Lilian said...

oh yeah, and I'm sure your mom must be *thrilled* to know that ;-)

Cloudscome said...

You have a truly amazing husband. Reading this after the post about how you hike together in rhythm just makes it all the more clear. Love that man.