Today, while racing off a delayed plane, a fellow passenger asked me, “Do you have any checked luggage?”. I recognized the voice from earlier in the flight. It was the friendly person who had offered to place my coat in the overhead bin.
Walking briskly, carry-on flung over my shoulder, I looked ahead as I answered “Yes. I skychecked a case.” Reaching a manageable gait, I chanced a look in their direction and added “I’m not worried”.
He appeared to be in his 40s. His small but firm paunch, and slightly rolled shoulders suggested that his body was getting too heavy for him. He flicked his eyes around the terminal in a quick, agitated manner and croaked “I checked luggage and I’m worried it won’t make the connection in time.”
As we continued our forward charge, I asked how long his trip would be. He answered that he would be away on business for a month. “Well, I’m sure your luggage will get there before you leave to fly home.” I offered with a smile as we eyed the crowd of travellers at our new gate. Still breathless he said “I don’t share your optimism”. His face was fixed straight ahead. The quick, sharp words fell on the floor between us.
My Grandmother taught me at an early age to pack a night’s worth of supplies in my carry on. (A change of knickers, clean socks and tee shirt, and essential toiletries.) Well traveled herself, she knew that even the most well planned arrangements can go awry, leaving one stranded and suitcase-less.
With the items in my shoulder bag, and confidence earned through years of flying, I knew I could do without my suitcase for the time it would take to re-route it. I have also come to understand that that aside from some extra minutes at the luggage counter, late luggage is generally of little consequence. In the end, your bag will find you.
My counterpart, on the other hand was feeling the stress of this moment from his teeth to his toes. The pleasant, helpful character from the start of the day was gone. In it’s place was a seething, sweaty person, unwell at the mere thought of being separated from their checked belongings.
As we edged up to the gate, a beleaguered staff member announced that due to a mechanical issue, our flight would be delayed by 30 minutes.
We would not miss our connecting flight. Our luggage would arrive when we did.
I had raced from one gate to another without so much as a temperature change, now upon word of extra time and never-lost luggage, I smiled and turned my body towards the nearby seating area. My companion, muttering something about having time for a sandwich, ordered his body back into action from it’s heavy standstill, and disappeared in a huff.
While the connection had been made, our connection was cut. I silently thanked all of my missed and re-routed flights, the nights spent without luggage, and of course, my dear old Gran. When the time came to board, I tucked my jacket in to my carry-on and joined the queue.
A complex experience had unfolded in those few short moments between gates. Mine was one of comfort in imbalance. Far more valuable than the contents of my luggage, it’s a feeling I will never leave home without.