Thursday, October 21, 2010

Standing in the Baggage Claim area…

Whether it’s at DFW or DEN, there is a certain stupid ambience that surrounds the baggage claim carousel. Like pigs around a trough awaiting their morning slop, or perched caffeine addicts at a local Starbucks awaiting their Venti-9-pump-non-fat-no-water-egg-nog-chai-extra-hot-to-147-degrees-latte (see Aimee’s blog Mixed metaphors about The Starbucks Experience), we all find ourselves at the baggage claim carousel on occasion.

The baggage claim area is, perhaps, the strangest swine line up ever. The population is stratified. To begin with the very savvy traveler NEVER checks in a bag. They will find any conceivable way to jam-pack a slightly oversized carry on to avoid the swine line and, ultimately, lost luggage. While the rest of us are waiting and hoping to get our bags, the very savvy travelers are already at the car rental lot and well on their way.

The early snatchers are the ones that have a very personal relationship with their bag and recognize it from afar. They’ve planned out their reunion. They appear to even have some mystical way knowing exactly when their bag is approaching. Some tactics include bright ribbons, duct tape or clearly identifiable graffiti for ease of detection. They confidently grab their bag and whisk it away with a one arm movement much like the grace of a fly fischer carefully netting a Brown Trout.

The next swineage category are the idiots. These are the people (I’m in this group) that forgot what their bag looked like hours ago when they checked it in, and now they fumble and finger every bag that may remotely resemble theirs. These idiots are easy to spot as they will physically check multiple bags again and again, thinking that whilst the carousel made another pass that somehow their bag morphed its form into another. They never read the marquee to learn if their flight is even being unloaded. They may wander from carousel to carousel in a random stupor. You can also spot an idiot because even after they have made positive identification of their bag, they check the name tags, match the check in bar code and make a thorough luggage body cavity search of the unit securing that it *is* in fact theirs.

Next we have the people that locate their bags on the carousel, yet lack the muster to be able to hoist it off of the moving track; the weenies. These people typically are clumsily bonking their suitcase over the tops of others and sometimes end up on the track itself along with the luggage. Someone usually intervenes and saves the embarrassed person from losing a limb, their luggage or both to the revolving carousel. It seems that there is an inverse relationship to the size of the luggage and the weenie for some strange reason.

And finally there are those that simply wait patiently for their bag, pick it up and make no big deal about the whole thing. It is neither a Christmas morning nor a re-acquaintance with a long lost friend. These also are the seasoned travelers, yet they couldn’t figure out how to jam 12 days of clothes into their carry on. They have rendered to the baggage transport process and accept it with grace. They don’t crane their necks thinking that they may be at the wrong spot. They don’t jump in front of people swan-diving for their bags. If they miss it one time, they know it’ll be coming around again in a few minutes.

The next time you travel, consider the swine trough. Consider the baggage claim activity as a very mundane and routine activity that usually works quite well. It is not your first stage appearance and your bags are not any more important than another’s. While we cannot do much about the idiots, we can at least be patient and kind. And don’t forget to lend a helping hand if you see a weenie lodged in between some bags. You may save a life.

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