Monday, July 13, 2009

The Lost (Baggage) Weekend

My weekend mission; fly to the east coast, bail my daughter out of summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, drive two hours to visit my son who is spending the summer in Connecticut, then take the train to New York City with my daughter. Simple enough. Except for one small complication.

Last Thursday night, I had an 11 pm flight out of LAX to Albany, New York, with a plane change in Chicago. No baggage to check, just my shoulder bag with my laptop and a few other small items in it and a small roll-away, with enough clothes for the long weekend.

My flight is called for boarding and as I reach the door of the plane I'm greeted by one of the airline personnel who tell me that I'll have to check the roll-away because all of the overhead bins are full. I'm not happy because I'm on a tight schedule. Once I land in Albany I have to pick up my rental car and make the 45 mile drive to the camp where my daughter is staying. I really don't have time to wait for my bag to be unloaded and then stand around the luggage carousel waiting for it. And if I'm late in picking up my daughter, I can only imagine that my picture posted in every post office in Western Massachusetts as a member of the "Daddy Hall of Shame."

In any event, I reluctantly surrender the bag. The airline lady takes down my final destination and my flight number. She tells me the bag will be booked through to Albany.

When I arrive in Albany the next morning (nearly an hour late) I hustle over to the baggage claim area. I wait. And wait. And wait. And sure enough, no bag. I inquire about it in the luggage office. I show the agent my baggage claim stub. They have no record of my bag being scanned. The agent says it might be on the next plane to arrive in Albany which is at 1 pm. "We can send it to your hotel." I explain I'm not staying in Albany. I'm spending Friday night in New Haven and then traveling to New York City on Saturday. "Well, we can Fed Ex the bag to you in New York but Fed Ex doesn't deliver on weekends." She gives me a $150 travel voucher for United on the spot. Already late to pick up my daughter, I don't have to time to stick around and make a big stink. Not that it would have done any good.

Saturday in New Haven and I'm going on 36 hours without a change of clothes. All I have is a sweater, T-shirt and some long pants. I need to start assembling a new travel wardrobe. First order of business, find a baseball hat to keep the sun off of my forehead. We go to the school bookstore where I find a deal. A Yale baseball cap and T-shirt bundled together for $25. Sure, I'll look like some Ivy League college rah-rah when I'm walking around New York, but in terms of my personal safety, it's preferable to wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, which seems to be the only other readily available alternative in this part of New England.

Saturday in New York City, it's warm and I'm sure wishing I had that pair of shorts I had packed in my bag. There's a Gap store a short walk from our hotel. My daughter and I head over there. I ask her opinion, should I get shorts with cargo pockets or just a plain pair of walking shorts? My daughter tells me that teenage boys wear pants with cargo pockets and "if you dress too young, it only ends up making you look older."

Thanks kid, I'll remember that. I opt for the plain walking shorts. I also pick up another T-shirt, a couple of pair of boxer shorts and several pairs of socks.

Later on when I mention on my Twitter account and Facebook page that I did my shopping at the Gap, Helene Schneider comments, "I hear NYC has a few nice clothing stores :-)"

Where did she expect me to go, Bergdorf Goodman? I guess she forgets, I'm on a blogger's budget and not a city employee's salary.

I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I'm darned near the cheapest.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and