Everyone has baggage. Some people call it luggage. Some people call it issues. Some people get Freudian on you and what they make of it is completely frightening.
When I took my suitcase out the other day to pack for my brief foray back to the Kong I acknowledged, not for the first time, what disrepair the old thing had fallen into. I think that I got this luggage from my Grandma May when I graduated from UCSD. That would make it about 17 years old. Seems like a good life span. [Brings to mind Eddie Murphy’s joke about a certain virus… “Herpes… like luggage – you keep that shit forever.”] Anyhow, I had been thinking about getting some new luggage for a while. Norm and Matil used these suitcases for their personal gym for about three years, and the zippers have become touchy enough that you sort of have to do this little private prayer every time you want to open the suitcase in order for it to work. And then it only works once, so opening and closing it is an impossibility within a short time span (or I don’t know the right prayer to make that happen at least.) Suffice it to say that the bags are shredded – quite literally – and not wholly functional. I even asked my mom if she was interested in helping me acquire new luggage as a Christmas gift (she politely declined, but I got some beautiful jewelry, so all was not lost.)
Looking at the sad state of the suitcase this time I thought, I really should just buy a new suitcase; especially when I watched Matilda go crazy smelling it (could she smell Norm?) and refusing to get out of the thing, looking super sad.
But, as always with my trips, I left no extra time, or at least none for luggage shopping.
So, I gave myself enough time to do the little prayer dance to get it open and pack and then do the little prayer dance and get it closed and then I hit the road. (Well, after a quick couple of pints with a former student and her beau – who graciously carried said bag to Bart without a single comment on its sad state.)
Fast forward fifteen hours: I am off the plane and headed through immigration. I choose to use the residents line because I still have my HKID and, well, frankly, I don’t wait in lines. I hand my stuff to the immigration officer and she notices that my employment visa is expired. Would I be renewing this visa? Do I have a new job? I take this opportunity to tell her I do in fact have a new job. That it is in California did not seem a pertinent detail. I felt that I was not being completely dishonest, and felt particularly justified looking at the huge lines at the visitor’s entrance. Plus, my luggage would be waiting for me (yay Marco Polo) and so I was really just trying to keep things synchronized. She said, “Welcome back,” and handed me my ID.
I walk through to carousel nine where I could see luggage already making its way around on the conveyor belt. I see my bag. I pick it up. I look at the corner of it. It appears to have been slightly crushed. Hardly the only damage the bag has sustained over its lifetime, but, something new and different. I walk over to the Cathay Baggage Services counter. I wonder if people actually say that they work in baggage service. I suppose it is its own kind of therapy even here. I walk up (no line) and say, “I think my bag was damaged on the flight.” The agent looks and says, “Oh, I am so sorry. We have a new bag in the office, but not the same brand.” I am just off a 14-hour flight and it is 7:00 a.m. local time so I am not really tracking. “Umm. Okay?” He hands me a paper and asks me for my ID. “Just put your name and a number on here.” I comply. “Okay, when you get to the arrival hall take the life to the sixth floor to the airline offices, I will call them and they will have a new bag for you.”
He looks at me, “Well, I will call him now, you may have to wait five minutes.”
I walk out and take the lift (hey, I am in Hong Kong, it is a lift here) to the sixth floor, walk in to the offices (no line) and am handed a brand new gorgeous black Polo suitcase. The Cathay officer apologizes that it is not exactly the same size.
“That is okay,” I answer as I transfer my luggage from the old suitcase (no prayer needed to open it this time, just let that baby rip,) “I think this will be fine.”
And my new-new suitcase and I rolled out of the office out into the awaiting and awaited Hong Kong.