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Whose $90?

So as I mentioned before, I’m in Denver this week going to a few customer sites.

My luggage, however, is not in Denver, and the clothes contained therein are not going to customer sites with me.

The flight from SNA to PHX was fine, if a little bumpy on the landing. I make it a point to never check luggage because it just slows me down, and I hate waiting for the silly conveyor belt to bring my baggage to me when I could have had it with me all along. Also, I am keenly aware that I have the worst luck in the world regarding things that are important to me and other people handling them. When I was in college, not a single semester went by without the administration losing something of mine. I’m going to have an issue with babysitters; they will undoubtedly lose my children.

I got onto the Denver flight early with my “one plus one” carry-ons; my backpack stowed beneath the seat and my duffle bag in the overhead compartment.

A word about overhead compartments. They are all the same size, or roughly the same size at least. And yet, almost every bag that is manufactured in this dimension is exactly one inch too large to fit into an overhead compartment lengthwise, and so must be put in sideways. The dufflebag I carry with me is cheap–another reason I don’t check it–but it will nicely snuggle into an overhead compartment lengthwise in between two gargantuan rollerbags that were designed by people with minds one inch too short.

My bag went up into the overhead between two rollerbags, one of which was obviously too long to fit in lengthwise but was smugly sitting there, protruding into the aisle. Now, luggage is not normally smug, but this black bag exuded a particular air of egotism because it was tied into the compartment with steel cord, and locked in securely. Yes, dear reader, locked in. I thought that that was odd, but nevertheless I was in the front of the plane and this was the only space left, so in my duffle went.

When the flurry of preflight activity slid from Act I: Passengers to Act II: Attendants, the overheads were closed, starting at the back and moving forward. When they found my little bag and it’s insane cousin, they decided that my bag was the one that had to go. Obviously they couldn’t take the other bag; it was locked in so nicely. So off my bag went, and they gave me a ticket over my protests.

As I said, my bag was cheap. The contents of said bag, however, were not. From most replaceable to least, I had packed the charger for my cell phone, my shoes (I wear sandals to the airport so that I don’t have to take them off), all of my company shirts, and some t-shirts for after work (including one from England). Oh, and a company laptop. Yeah.

When we got to the other side I had that feeling you get when you know that you’ve forgotten something, but you can’t quite remember what it is. And when the conveyor did it’s little dance and stopped short of the encore where it delivered up my duffle, I remembered what it was: I hate America West because they are the worst airline in the world.

So I talked to the baggage claim person, gave him my information and got the necessary paperwork. It turns out that the Airline classifies luggage as ‘delayed’ until it hasn’t arrived for five days. At that point, it becomes ‘lost.’ This little bit of orwellism brought to you by the letters A and W.

The problem then became that we arrived at our hotel at almost 8 and we had to be at a meeting at 8am the next morning. I couldn’t very well wear the shorts and t-shirt that I had on, so we went to 16th street mall, which was just a block from our hotel, and arrived at each store as they locked their doors in our faces.

We found some official-looking types by a train stop and asked them what might still be open, and they very helpfully told us where a K-Mart was, and how to take the train to get there (They were employees of the train company). They even offered to let us ride for free. Thumbs up to the RTA guys in Denver.

So we waited for the train to come by to get us to K-Mart. No train. Waiting. No train. Chuck, the RTA supervisor, decided that we had waited enough and offered to drive us over in his RTA van. Huge thumbs up for Chuck.

So we went through K-Mart finding appropriate clothes to wear, and then handing over $90 to pay for it all. Then we headed back to 16th street, ate, and went to the hotel to crash.

So here’s conundrum number one: my baggage, if you will recall, was not yet lost but merely delayed, so my buying clothes is supposedly on my dime. But the reason I had to buy the clothes was because the airline delayed my luggage. So shouldn’t it be on their dime?

As I was writing this, I got a call from the baggage claim that my luggage had just arrived. So the airline didn’t even lose my bags afterall, they did just delay them. But I still shelled out $90 because of it. Who’s $90 did I give to the K-Mart cashier last night?

I hope to God that it was the airline’s money, because I don’t have $90 to spend on clothes that I didn’t really need. But there was probably some agreement somewhere where I told the airline that they could delay my luggage for up to five days, and so I’m probably screwed.

And people always envision traveling for work to be fun…