Saturday, August 12, 2006

Flying in

The reason to fly was to save time. While, on the whole, I did, it was not nearly as much as I would have hoped. The day before my flight to Canada (international travel!) the whole big terrorist scare broke in England. I awoke to stories of travelers not even being allowed to bring a book on the plane. Not even a book! How could you make a transatlantic flight without a book?

The restrictions I was placed under were much less stringent. Added to the already banned pocketknives and toenail clippers were all liquids, gels and similar substances. No problem, except did that mean I would have to leave my sunscreen, toothpaste and hairspray at home? Or would I check my bag? I went around on that in my head, but decided that it would be easier to check. I could pack more loosely (recommended) and not have to worry about scrounging up the needed items and having to leave them in Canada. Altogether, a money and time saver.

Originally, I planned to get to the airport and hour ahead and not check. Then, I planned on two hours and checking. The morning of the trip, I was advised to get there three hours ahead. Because I was running a tiny bit late on Friday, I missed the bus and ended up getting to Dulles two hours early. That turned out to be plenty of time.

When I was about to board the plane, I bumped into a grad school friend of mine (he lives in the DC area, but we never see each other). He was hoping to fly standby and, in fact, he got on the plane and we sat together. He distracted me through the bumpy ascent and agreed to share a cab with me from the airport. For most of the flight, he napped and I worked on a crossword.

When we landed, he was worried that his bag wouldn't arrive. But it did. It was one of the first on the carousel. Mine, however, never showed. I can only smile about this. What can you do? Many of the other folks on my flight were in the same boat. A man approached me, "Is your bag missing too?"

"I guess so."

"We were on the same flight. We're the only ones left. " That actually wasn't the case, but I didn't correct him. "Our bags could be anywhere. Where else does United fly? They could be in China!"

"Oh, they're here somewhere. Just not where they need to be."

He continued, "I don't usually lose my luggage. What are we supposed to do?"

I said, "I prefer not to check, but it seemed easier." I thought, 'You don't usually lose your luggage? Who does? I woke up this morning and decided, today is the day!'

Finally we all gave up. We went to the airline counter, filled out a form, got it stamped by customs, took it back to the airline rep and went into town, hoping for the best.

My friend stuck around for all of this, which was a comfort, and we still shared a cab together.

I should have made do without the lotions and the potions. But I did stow an extra pair of underpants and my rain jacket (already used once) in my carry-on, one of my friends loaned me a shirt to sleep in and my traveling clothes were all black. It could be worse.

When I woke up this morning, I said to one of my roommates, "I wonder what I'll wear today?"

She laughed.

Grateful for: a sense of proportion.

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