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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trip Epilogue: MIA

MIA is not just the three-letter code for Miami’s airport, it's also an acronym for the status of my luggage: Missing In Action. 

My bag was last seen at the American Airlines curbside check-in. The attendant took my rolling duffel and my sister’s suitcase and put them on a cart behind him.  Only one of the bags made it to Dulles alive.

Lynne and I went to the American office, where the agent told us the bag didn’t get on the flight.  She made my bag sound lazy, like it had been off smoking a Camel when it should've been listening for the final boarding call.  She took down my information and told me the bag should arrive at my house the next day.

I thanked her and said, “ I trust you’ll refund the checked bag fee.”  She shook her head, answering my non-question in the negative.  And here I'd thought the jet ski people had already locked up the J.D. Power & Associates’ Award for Excellence in Customer Hostility.

My lost luggage reminded me of another outstanding trip that splatted across the finish line.  In 2002, just before I graduated law school, my best friend and I took a cruise to celebrate my Last Spring Break Ever. 

Because my studies had depleted my savings, we snapped up one of those last-minute bargains with an affordable cruise line.  “A floating Wal-Mart,” J. called it.

The travel gods rewarded us handsomely for our procrastination. They sat us in first class on the flight from Washington to Florida.  And instead of shoving us into the cabin we booked in the “closet plus porthole” category, they upgraded us to a state room.  It had a sitting area, bar, balcony, and patio furniture.  We didn’t understand our  good fortune, but we were smart enough to revel in it. 

Our luck came to a screeching halt the final morning of the trip.  I was packing my bags while J. did the customary sweep for forgotten items.  As he pulled aside the curtains covering the sliding glass door that led to the balcony, I said, “I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave anything out there.”

He glanced out and said, “You’re right, there’s nothing out there.  And when I say ‘nothing,’ I really mean it.”  Huh?  “The furniture jumped ship,” he said.

Impossible.  I went over to assess the inventory for myself and sure enough, it stood at zero.  We had no idea what had happened to it and couldn’t think of anything to do besides wait for the cruise line to bill us.  With heavy footsteps we walked the plank and then made our way to the airport.

The Gods did not give us a smooth, first-class ride home.  Instead, they put us in the back of the plane and shook it. 

“I feel like a frog in a blender,” J. muttered, head in hand. “Perfect way to end this cruise.”

The guy sitting next to him heard this and said, “Oh, you were on the cruise, too?”  We nodded.  Apparently, he and a few friends--all police officers in Rhode Island-- decided to take a vacation together and had booked the budget-friendly trip on a whim. J. asked him what he thought of the experience.

Our new cop friend laughed. “Well, it was great, but I felt sorry for the people staying next to us.  I think it was a couple on their honeymoon and, well, we got a little rowdy toward the end.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry,” J said. “If they're typical newlyweds, they didn't even notice the noise.”

The policeman chuckled. “Maybe not, but I bet they noticed their deck furniture was missing this morning.”  J and I looked at each other, brows knitting.  The cop paid no attention to our faces and kept right on talking, belly-laughing as he gave himself up.  “We...hahaha….threw…hahahah…. it…hahaha…. overboard!”  Tears started to trickle down his cheeks.

J’s reaction mirrored my thoughts.  “Well, great. I can hardly wait to tell the cruise people that four of Rhode Island's finest got drunk and decided to clean house.”

To our surprise, the bill never came. Good thing, too, because this didn't seem like the best test case for the third party sovereign immunity defense.  Not only did I not get charged, but the experience proved valuable to me this week: Compared to losing an entire balcony full of rented furniture, my little luggage splat barely registered.  


  1. Hey K1, just wanted to say that I always enjoy your Splats! Can't wait for the next one, I imagine you have binders full of such anecdotes... K2

  2. You're right, K2--they're on my shelf right next to the big stack of "women" binders. Thanks for reading!!!