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     Volume 7 Issue 36 | September 5, 2008 |

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Straight Talk

Lost Luggage

Nadia Kabir Barb

As the carousel slowed down and finally came to a grinding halt I had a sinking sensation in my stomach. It was an all too familiar feeling of exasperation and irritation when we realised that yet again one of our suitcases had not arrived. I have no idea why but we have had our luggage misplaced so many times that I have actually lost count. The last thing you want after a long flight is to deal with the hassle of lost luggage but instead of making our way home like most of the other passengers, we had to fill in forms and wait around in the airport until the airline authority had all the necessary details. All they could tell us was that the missing item had never even made it onto the flight with our other pieces of baggage. What I really wanted to do was stamp my foot like a spoilt child and yell that I wanted my suitcase and I wanted it now! Instead we politely thanked the man at the customer relations desk for his co-operation and headed out. As we drove home I racked my brains trying to figure out what I may have put in the missing suitcase. I kept hoping it was not the children's clothes or school books -- that would make a bad situation into a disastrous one! Well there was nothing for us to do but wait to be reunited with our bag assuming it ever made it back to us.

If I cast my mind back, there was one time the airlines lost our baggage which resulted in rather unfortunate consequences. We had just moved to Germany and our eldest daughter was only eight weeks old at the time. All our bags arrived minus one. We notified the appropriate people and made our way to the hotel. When we arrived there, I opened the suitcases to try and figure out whether there was anything essential in the bag that had gone missing. As luck would have it the particular suitcase that had been misplaced by the airlines was the one with my daughter's nappies in it. I told my husband that it might be prudent to go and buy a box of nappies as I had only packed enough in the hand luggage for the short flight from London to Frankfurt and packed the rest in the absentee suitcase.

So off went my husband to buy some nappies for our infant. Soon I received a call from him telling him that there were no shops open near the hotel, in fact fifteen years ago shops only stayed open till five o'clock in the afternoon. The next place that came to mind was the train station there was bound to be a chemist or some shop that would sell nappies. After an hour or two of scouring different parts of Frankfurt, my husband returned to the hotel defeated and empty handed. By this time we were running low on the numbers of diapers I had left. Now one thing about babies that you can be certain about is they eat, sleep and...... I think I can leave the rest unsaid. It was fast turning into a nightmare.

Then all of a sudden we had a flash of inspiration and remembered that when we had had the removal men packing our life into hundreds of boxes to be shipped to Frankfurt, I had filled a few boxes with nappies. Being a first time parent, one can tend to be slightly over anxious and I had felt it necessary to pack as many boxes of Pampers as I could despite my other half gently reminding me I would be able to buy nappies in Frankfurt and did not really need to stock up for the next two years! The obvious thing to do was drive to the flat and retrieve those precious items. There was of course a hitch. The hotel was situated in the centre of Frankfurt and our apartment was in a little town outside the city. By this time it was past midnight and driving around in an unfamiliar city in the middle of the night was a daunting prospect. As I could not accompany my husband and assist him in map reading (the nappy situation was now dire) he had to venture forth on his own. After a few hours he finally returned and in my eyes he was no less than a knight in shining armour and I had never been so relieved to see a box of nappies as I was at that precise moment! The airlines sent us the suitcase the following evening, but as you can imagine the inconvenience that we had to put up with was unacceptable.

There have been other occasions where our bags seemed to have been left behind or sent on the wrong flight and things have gone missing from them. When we went to Ireland for a wedding our bag did not show up until the event was over, and on top of that our camera went missing from the suitcase and the airlines refused to compensate us for the stolen item. Not a great way to build customer relations if you ask me.

Then there are airlines who hand you a form to fill in. Just looking at the form boggles the mind. I suppose if you are packing just for yourself you know what you have packed in your bag. However, in my case where there are five of us, I could not tell you off the top of my head what I packed into each individual suitcase. I think they just want to mess with your head and make you feel inadequate for not remembering everything you lovingly put in your case. Not just that they seem to expect you to remember the size, colour and brand of all the clothes, shoes, bags or whatever else you may have had in it. Oh yes, and don't forget the date you bought them, how much it cost you at the time and the current value of the item. I mean, is there anyone on this planet who actually remembers all these facts and if there is I would please like to meet them. Whoever you are, you make the rest of us look bad!

This time we were lucky and our bag showed up a couple of days later with all the contents in it and I was spared the added stress of trying to fill up the confounded form...

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