Welcome to New Hampshire. Where’s your coat?

The realization woke me at 12:50 a.m. No one had called or knocked on my door since I’d arrived almost five hours before.

Someone should have knocked on my door by now. Or called. I had left specific instructions. Call. Or knock.

Yet, nothing.

That meant my bag still had not arrived from my flight the night before.

That meant, I would be wearing the same clothes two days in a row, and even as I type this, I sound whiny. People in some lands (including this one) wear the same clothes every … single … day … of … their … lives and are happy to have something to wear.

Still, I’ll have to wear the same clothes two days in a row. At least I’ll have clean undergarments, having gotten directions at hotel check-in to the closest department store for a quick purchase of three items.

I wonder if what the airline is calling “delayed baggage” (interesting metaphorical choice of words) is a consequence of taking two airlines for one trip. I checked my bags on Delta to Washington and then caught American to New Hampshire.

After deplaning in Washington, I recall looking for and not seeing my flight on the departure monitors. The lines at every gate counter were long, so I wandered looking for my flight, and not the one leaving at 6:53, but mine, the one leaving at 4:50.

No luck.

Down this way, up that way, Nothing.

Finally, I found someone who could tell me where to board an American flight.

Only, he didn’t know. He had on a badge, clearly an airport employee, and he didn’t know, either.


A black back of tiny toiletries.

As a consolation for my “delayed baggage,” an airline agent game me toiletries.

Up this way, down that way. A gate agent walking away from the gate, who told me I had to exit the A Terminal, past security and go to C and back through security.

On foot.

That wouldn’t happen at Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (I think I got all the names in there), my home base airport.

Well, I still would have had to walk a bit, but at least I would have been able to catch a train between terminals and wouldn’t have had to go back through security.

The only (ONLY) plus to going back through security was that I got to show off my black polka-dotted socks as I walked shoeless all the way from the baggage screening area to my gate.

Well, a gate. The wrong gate.

I had heard my name on the intercom, telling me to go immediately down the escalators for immediate boarding.

I immediately went down the escalators to Door 1 and handed the agent my ticket.

“WRONG FLIGHT” flashed in red and filled the monitor.

“Where are you headed?” the agent asked.

“Manchester,” I said.

“I’m boarding for Chicago. You need to go down there,” he said, motioning to “down there.”

I walked down there, not fully knowing where there was.

And then, I was there, as a crowded bus — with just enough floor space for me and my computer bag — waited to take me to my US Airways plane (I had forgotten US Airways and American had merged), a plane with barely had enough room in the overhead bin for my bag. I actually had to remove power cords, snacks and such to make it fit.

All the while, never thinking once about my mustard yellow, hard-sided, plastic, 360-degree rolling bag with a pull-up handle, the one with a built-in baggage tag that I had just written my name on a few hours before.

The bag that had my coat (the temperature was about 70 when I left Georgia), my clothing for the next three days, my large bottle of ibuprofen and my secret weapon against the cold: a pair of fleece-lined tights.

And my toiletries.

When I reported my “delayed baggage,” an agent gave me a small toiletries kit with a toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, a shaving kit, and a facial wipe — all stamped with US Airways.

The two things she couldn’t give me was a reassurance that my bag and I soon would be reunited, and she couldn’t give me a bar of the soap I’ve used for more than 10 years, a scented soap no longer made.

Only once before has my bag been lost while flying. That time, a gazillion years ago, we were separated for three days. At that point, I decided to always keep a change of clothes and my toiletries in my carry-on bag.

But after years of flying for a gazillion more years and not having lost a bag, I stopped the ritual.

It’s 36 degrees outside in New Hampshire as I write this, and the temperature will drop to freezing by the time I set off for work.

I have no coat, and I miss my soap already.


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