Friday, November 10, 2006

A Southern Boy Gets A New Brief Case [CCR]

It seems I never can get quite accustomed to the airlines and flying around the country. The first twenty years of my life went by without ever needing to step foot on an airplane and now it seems I can’t get away from them. My most recent trip to Baltimore proved to bring back the challenges I haven’t seen in a few years. In short, the airline lost my luggage. My plane left Columbus an hour late and then we were delayed an additional hour and a half in Cincinnati. Nonetheless the thought of the airline losing my luggage crossed my mind. I don’t know what caused the premonition in Baltimore, but it didn’t take me long to check the airline luggage office and discover my bags were sitting in Cincinnati. With all my travels I haven’t waited on bags for several years now.

Right after leaving Cherokee almost twenty years ago I went to work for Mobil Chemical’s Machine Development Group. Our group developed the equipment for manufacturing the Hefty garbage bags. I was the electrical engineer and Clyde was my technician. Together we traveled the country supervising the installation of our equipment and training the operators. That work meant a lot of time in the air and it also meant we saw interesting events. We always had luggage to check since we carried a lot of computer equipment and training materials.

One of my best memories was a trip to Austin, Texas from St. Louis, Missouri. The airlines had damaged one of my brief cases on a previous trip and I used their reimbursement along with some extra funds to buy a new case. Clyde and I were based in Illinois and he always took every opportunity to say something about my Southern heritage, of which I was quite proud. Clyde just couldn’t understand how I ended up with a new case so he devised a plan. Unfortunately he divulged that plan while we stood in line at the airport.

What happened next has puzzled me for the last twenty years. How did the airline know Clyde’s plan? I think Clyde wasn’t really serious. But, the plan was laid out whether it would actually happen or not. Someone had to hear. Clyde decided that once we got to Austin he would declare damage to his brief case, which he checked. He told me that he too could get enough from his case to buy a new one.

We arrived in Austin and waited patiently for our bags. My large bag arrived along with my nice new brief case. Clyde’s large bag arrived. Now we waited for Clyde’s brief case. The conveyor stopped and we were ready to go declare the case lost when the terrible truth revealed itself. The conveyor sounded an alert and through the window came a large cardboard box. In that box were the contents of Clyde’s brief case in a shamble. A second box contained what looked like the remains of a brief case that had been demolished by the landing gear of a Boeing 747. I looked at Clyde and said nothing. The big Southern grin on my face said it all.

Thank goodness my trip to Baltimore didn’t see such tragedy. But I did live out of a big box discount store for three days while my luggage slowly found its way from Cincinnati to my hotel in Seaford, Delaware. Through the years my luggage has had many interesting trips to places I have yet to see. But I learned on a trip to Texas that discussing the fate of one’s luggage while waiting in line at the airport is not a good idea.