There’s an old nursery rhyme that goes something like “when I’m good I’m very very good, but when I’m bad, I’m horrid.”
Travel is a lot like that.
There’s also my old friend Murphy, who is guaranteed to come up with new and ingenious ways to make things go wrong—horribly, hideously wrong. And just when you think you have every possible calamity accounted for, he pops up with a whole new way to torture us.
I’m not even talking about weather disasters. Because those are (presumably) out of our control, I’m only referring to the manmade kind—the incompetent, excessively cautious and possibly (probably?) corrupt kind.
If I sound a little bitter…that’s because I am. The travel luggage gods have it in for me.
I’m not sure what I did to offend them, but the vendetta started when my husband and I took our first trip to Cabo in September 2009 to celebrate our first anniversary. We flew through Atlanta, which normally I actually wouldn’t have minded, but Georgia was in the middle of record rainstorms that fall.
Delta not only lost our bags, they must also have left them out in a monsoon for 24 hours, because when we finally got them days later, everything inside was soaked.
We did get our bags on the way home, but everything was soaked again—with the tequila we bought in Mexico and bubble-wrapped. Do you know how hard it is to get expensive Mexican tequila out of clothing? I do—It’s almost impossible.
And yet….that pales compared to my experiences with TSA on my most recent trip.
I travel a great deal for work, so I always have my shoes off and my laptop out by the time I get to the front of the security line, and after a massive customs line in Huston, my husband and I had only about 15 minutes to make it through security and find our gate.
Little did I know that metallic rhinestone flip-flops stashed in a carry-on look suspicious—possibly like some kind of weapon. Or maybe a bomb. Who can say?
Certainly not the TSA agent who insisted on taking them out and running them through the scanner not once, not twice, but six times.
Bye bye flight. Hello airport hotel.
At our own expense, the airline cheerfully explained, adding that they couldn’t possibly return our checked bags, but that they’d be waiting for us when we got home to D.C. the following day.
And were they ever.
John’s had survived the journey, but mine—my almost-new, red crocodile print suitcase—had been slashed to pieces and taped back together with TSA tape.
It wasn’t locked, and the zipper wasn’t broken, so I can only think that someone deliberately vandalized my suitcase.
Why? Who would do something like that? I still can’t figure it out.
The airline sympathized, but shifted all responsibility to TSA, which said it would only consider my claim if I had a receipt.
Um, right. I saved it in the expectation that a government employee would purposely destroy my personal property, and I might need to make a claim.
I guess I’ll know better next time.
(See this pseudo-documentary I’ve made of my friends and coworkers—my friendly coworkers—discussing their own encounters with their own travel nightmares. As always, the music, “Road to Hell” (I like the title.), is by Kevin McLeod of http://incompetech.com/. Many of the photos are from www.wikimedia.org.)