The Joys of Traveling

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I packed my Louis Vuitton duffel bag far too generously, and the shoulder strap snapped within mere feet of leaving my hotel room. Already behind schedule, I had to make do by holding the hand straps.

Good upper body workout, I figured. I would have shrugged, except that my shoulders were already starting to ache.

A few blocks from the hotel, I caught a bus. Like me, it was running late, so I missed my light rail connection and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one.

Once it finally arrived, I was hyperventilating, my head swimming with visions of the lines that would surely await me at airport security. I wondered what would happen if I missed my flight altogether.

Sure enough, lines at the airport were atrocious. Glancing at the clock overhead, my heart did a backflip in my chest; my plane was boarding in ten minutes. The line in front of me looked like it would take at least twice that long to get through.

I approached a 40-something TSA staff member with a name-tag that read “Beverly” and explained my situation with puppy-dog eyes.

“I’m afraid I’m going to miss my flight,” I told her, sending silent puppy-dog whines that no owner could resist.

“Are you a first-class passenger?” Beverly asked, her voice monotone.

“No,” I replied. Clearly, the sad puppy-dog act was not working.

Beverly gave me a gaze that felt like cold steel and pointed to the winding lines beyond the security checkpoint area.

This was the way to make me feel like a serf and I balked silently, grumbling under my breath as I huffed to the end of the line intended for peasantry. Glancing at my fellow travelers, I noticed that none of them seemed to be in any particular hurry. I considered parting the crowd like Moses in the Red Sea, all the while announcing my conundrum as I gallantly pranced to the front of the line, but it seemed like too much work. Instead, I sighed, setting my dilapidated Louis Vuitton duffel bag at my feet, resigned to the fact that I might very well miss my flight.

Then, a miracle transpired. I heard a familiar voice calling: “Ma’am.” I turned around, and saw Beverly motioning me toward the first-class waiting area. Perhaps the puppy-dog eyes had worked . . . at any rate, I was tickled pink when she led me through the gate that circumvented the long lines of my fellow (serf) travelers.

Thank you,” I told Beverly with a grateful nod as she waved me toward the luggage scanners.

After clearing security, I raced down the corridors toward my departure gate. I was sweaty and breathless by the time I arrived, but I’d made it fully intact (well . . . unless you count the designer bag).

As I boarded the plane, a gentleman in the first row glanced at my duffel and commented, “Nice bag.”

“Thanks,” I told him, thinking to myself: Sometimes you have to sacrifice comfort for fashion. (My aching shoulders gravely disagreed.)

Although it had been overcast in Minneapolis that morning, the sun was shining brightly above the thick layer of clouds, giving the impression of a perfect autumn day. I sank into my chair and tried my best to relax which – for me – meant trying to find humor in the endless stream of consciousness chattering through my braincase.

The flight to Chicago was smooth-sailing. It seemed that we had started our descent before the flight attendants even finished serving beverages.

As I exited the plane, I thought of an old Rodney Dangerfield quip: “I just flew into Chicago, and boy are my arms tired!” For me, the latter part — Boy, are my arms tired! — rang true on so many levels. (Damn you, Louis Vuitton . . . or maybe damn me for packing so much junk.)

Ah, well . . . live and learn.

Location: Minneapolis to Chicago

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