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.
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.
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.
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.
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.