Since my luggage has been gone for twelve days, I thought I’d go through the AirFrance facebook page and read other people’s complaints. If I can say nothing else decent about the lost luggage/dealing with AirFrance and Delta incompetency, I can say this: I just discovered that I can understand every single French complaint on the site without having to use a translator! Guess the intensive courses at CIEL paid off after all!
And mine happens to be there. This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with lost luggage, and while most people would say, “Good for you! We’ve never been that lucky!” most people’s…comes home eventually. The airline doesn’t seem to think that mine will.
My luggage has been gone for almost a week now, and I’m starting to freak out about it. It really shouldn’t be easy to lose. It’s a giant silver box on wheels (otherwise known as a hardside slider) that’s about as big as I am. It also, in typical Phi Mu fashion, has a bright ladybug ribbon tied firmly to the handle. This week has been a battle with AirFrance and Delta, who first told me that my luggage had been left in London and has since proceeded to tell me that my luggage has not gone anywhere since being tagged at Charles de Gaulle.
That’s right. It never even left the airport. If it never left the airport, it should be much easier to find, right? Apparently not. It’s floating around in the middle of Charles de Gaulle, but it’s yet to be found because AirFrance has multiple workers on strike. Can they please just call in some scabs and find my luggage already? Or at least find someone to answer the phone who isn’t completely rude?
They don’t seem to think it’s coming back any time soon, so I filed a report a couple days ago and began compiling a list of what’s in there. As I continue the list of things that are unfortunately locked up in the Houdini bag (and look for the receipts that proved I purchased these things, a job in and of itself!), I feel more and more ill. A few highlights include…
- all my contact lenses (on my last pair, and rocking the cokebottle glasses is not on my agenda.)
- medications (feeling a migraine coming on from all this, and where’s my migraine medicine? Sitting in Charles de Gaulle, of course.)
- pretty much every scarf I’ve ever bought. I have a mild obsession with scarves, and right now I’m trying to keep from thinking about how I’d like to strangle the AirFrance workers with one if I weren’t a (somewhat) calm, rational person.
the Ole Miss girl uniformmy favorite sorority shirts and tanks, one of my favorite BYX tshirts, and nike shorts
- my two best pairs of jeans. I never thought I’d say this, but thank God for the Mississippi heat. I won’t need long pants until at least October…
- souvenirs. I don’t want to explain to my sweet three-year-old cousin that her rhinestone eiffel tower is currently being held hostage by the airport.
- my dad’s sweaters. I hijacked them for the cold French weather and promised I’d bring them back as good as they were when I left. About that, Dad…
- all the other clothes I brought.
- the suitcase itself. Mine broke before I left Brest, so I had to pay for that box on wheels in euros. It’s barely had a weeks’ use, and it’s a shame that my luggage has spent more time in Paris than I have.
- my NASB Bible. Yes, it’s falling apart, and yes I have another one in perfect condition sitting on my bookshelf, but I love that particular one. All the notes in the margins…I bet there’s even one that I should be reading about patience and how everything happens in God’s time.
In all seriousness, I guess I should be more thankful. The luggage wasn’t lost on the way over, they didn’t lose me, and I moved my jewelry into my carry-on at the last minute. I suppose there’s a couple of morals to this story, too: don’t travel on an airline that goes on strike a lot, keep all of your receipts, take out travelers’ insurance, and as you’re counting the things you’re missing, count the blessings you’ve had for having them in the first place. That being said, if my luggage would like to come out of its hiding place in Charles de Gaulle or London or the rings of Saturn or wherever the heck it is, I’d very much appreciate it.
Maya Angelou (via aviatormermaids)
Don’t know if that says much for me then…
It’s currently 5:15 in the morning, and as expected, the time zone differences keep me from sleeping. Which means this is the perfect time to explain about my adventures home…
As much as I loved Paris, I was definitely ready to come home. As beautiful as the city of lights was, as much as I loved the culture and eating Laduree macarons for lunch (no gluten-free problems there!), something was just calling me home. As I
played the ultimate game of tetris packed, I couldn’t help but feel the tiniest bit excited. Home. Mississippi. Maybe it’s not the most exciting place in the world, but it’s still mine.
I had managed to book my cab over a skype call since my French phone had randomly decided to quit working, had gotten all of my stuff into that giant box on wheels with the bright ladybug ribbon hanging from it (total Phi Mu move), and had begun getting dressed when my new roommate returned for the night. My plan had been to do as much as possible, take a quick nap, and then wake back up around 4 to run through my checklist and get my things downstairs for my 5:30 cab. Though my flight didn’t leave until ten, I wanted some time to shop in the airport and to pick up a box of macarons for my parents.
With these goals in mind, I set an alarm on my computer, placed the earbuds in my ears, told my roommate goodnight, and awaited the expected Skype call from Dad to make sure that I was up. I’ve had some bad luck with my iPhone and alarm clocks in general this year, so being able to have that connection with my parents and let them know that I was indeed awake was essential. But then comes the problems with having a roommate…
I had been asleep for about 45 minutes (of my planned hour-and-a-half nap; sleeping in circadian rhythms like a true psych major), when my roommate woke me up to tell me that my laptop fan was too loud. Wait, what? The window has been open and my laptop with the completely black screen and the fan that sounds like a normal air conditioner is what’s bothering you? No, I’m not going to understand this. No, I’m not going to be okay with setting an alarm on my possessed, sometimes-sound-shuts-off iPhone and having you do the same on yours. No, there’s nothing you can do to make me feel better about this or help me get back to sleep. I just want my phone call from back home. And no, there is no point in going back to sleep when it takes thirty minutes to fall asleep and I need to be up in forty-five.
Of course, I said none of this aloud and simply tried to accept that any hopes of sleeping before this flight had been dashed. I began getting my things together, not feeling too bad when I hit the squeaky floorboard a few more times than usual, and silently blessed her heart all the way back to the UK as I headed downstairs to wait on my cab. Somehow, I managed to stay awake and squeak out enough French at 5:30 in the morning to explain where I wanted to go to a taxi driver who—unlike the receptionist I had spoken with the night before—did not speak a word of English.
Much to my surprise and happiness, I arrived at the airport with little trouble, and thanks to a flight attendant who bumped me from voyageur class to premium voyageur, my bag was under my new weight limit. I headed to security, proud of myself for having packed my hand baggage so well. I’d even already removed my jacket and unzipped my boots to make things faster. Little did I realize how different an experience airport security would be for me in Europe.
First of all, there is apparently no such thing as an TSA-friendly laptop bag. I don’t care what anyone says. This same bag has served me well for the past two years all through the United States without any problems. As soon as I placed the laptop in the tray, however, a TSA agent immediately came up to me and demanded that I remove it from the sleeve, which I did without hesitation. I then saw a sign about removing cameras, so I removed my camera bag and Kindle from my carry-on without being asked. I sent my bag through security, only to have it come back to the other side of the scanner. The lady then proceeds to tell me that I was supposed to remove all electronic devices. Hadn’t I? I wondered. She then unzipped the bag and pulled out my laptop power cord.
“This is an electronic device,” the agent told me, as if I were an idiot. Maybe I am an idiot, in that case, because I never would have considered a laptop charger, an outlet adapter, or a phone charger to be an electronic device. I just consider them accessories of my many electronic devices. Hastily I removed all my phone chargers, cords, and plugs from my bag, wondering if there were any other tech nerds behind me with an entire bag of electronics awaiting a similar fate, then sent it through security. As usual, I was selected for extra screening (seriously, in the past two years, I have been selected every time, even when I’ve flown with only a laptop and even though I have never traveled with liquids in my carry-on. I don’t understand how this is so random). I collected my things from the trays, trying to hurry out of the way so I could repack my entire carry-on bag before heading to the flight. Much to my dismay, however, my bag was not completely zipped, and as I slung my bag over my shoulder, plugs and cords flew all over airport security, one almost hitting a TSA agent. Embarrassed, I quickly shoved all my things into the bag, making sure it was fully zipped this time, and vowed to fix the bag before I boarded the flight. One trip to the airport Laduree store and an airport gift shop later, I was ready to repack my carry-on bag so London TSA wouldn’t be ready to kill me. After finishing that packing process, I pulled out my Kindle, and a two-year-old French girl came up to me and took it away, curious as to what it was. I smiled and explained to her, “C’est un livre.” She looked at me confused, probably wondering how in the world this thing in front of her was a book, and kept pressing buttons until her grandmother came up and took it away from her. Her next toy was my hair—I knew that I should’ve worn it up!
After two hours of laughing at her telling me about her shoes, her hair, and my weird book as she
pulled played with my hair, I finally boarded my flight to London and then thankfully made it through London security without any problems. With four hours left to my five-hour layover, I grabbed a “skinny burger” (basically, a gluten-free burger because it has no bun) and waited for my plane to arrive. Thankfully, I had an aisle seat on that lovely nine-hour flight, and though I didn’t sleep, it wasn’t too bad of a flight.
Finally, I made it to the Atlanta airport and through customs. Since it was my final leg of the flight and it was a little late, I let a few people with connections go in front of me. This, of course, made my parents and boyfriend even more anxious, as they had already waited two months to see me and were ready for my arrival. After realizing that my baggage was nowhere to be found, I left baggage claim and was finally reunited with them…
The boyfriend showed up with roses and chocolate and was the first to greet me. My parents told him that he could go first, since they figured I might be a little ill about my baggage being lost for the first time in history. ;) Mom and Dad weren’t far behind him though…
They then took me to baggage services to try and figure out where my luggage might be. The airport had absolutely no clue, but it wasn’t too big a deal since I won’t exactly be wearing the sweaters I did in Brest in this wonderful 100-degree Mississippi weather. ;) After loading up the car, we headed to Steak and Shake for a welcome home “American” dinner, though my burger of course (and very sweetly, my boyfriend’s) came without a bun. We then stayed the night in Birmingham and headed home to Meridian after I filled up on Mellow Mushroom pizza (oh, how I’ve missed that amazing gluten-free pizza!) and sweet tea. Though Meridian hasn’t exactly been eventful, and even though I’m still trying to adjust to time zones, it’s great being home. The fact that I had chips and queso for the first time in two months (anyone who knows me knows my obsession with queso) hasn’t exactly hurt that opinion either. In Stephanie Perkins’ novel Anna and the French Kiss, there’s this quote that pretty much sums it up perfectly: ”Home isn’t a place; it’s a person. And we’re finally home.”
I’m finally home. I’m with the people I love, and while I’ve been blessed with my experiences this summer, and though I plan to study abroad next summer, that’s what I need right now.