Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baggage Claim

As the plane approached the terminal in Philly, I thought the same thing I always think as I check and recheck the magazine pouch for any forgotten items, "Hmmm, 70% chance for undelayed luggage." Too many times I have waited for hours or days to finally claim my luggage. One time in Denver, people were wondering how in the world the luggage guy could get lost. He probably got stuck in traffic.

Our plane wasn't listed on the baggage monitor. Luckily, there were only two possibilities: Carousel 1 or Carousel 2. It didn't seem like a big deal, but people were stirring, asking questions, and probably lowered their percentages to 40.

Wreeeeeeent. I admit, I was startled. It’s that feeling you get when you walk inches away from the hood of your crazy aunt's car and she lays onto the horn - only this time, I only jumped one step back. Everyone bolted up with the ambulance light, and within seconds, Carousel 1 was completely surrounded.

People could just wait until they see their luggage before they clog up access to the carousel. Polite utterances urging for passage aren’t heard by those keenly focused on securing their luggage. The wall is impenetrable.

As I sat, mocking those who stood, I watched the crowd start to sway with impatience. I eyed the smallest of the luggage collectors - they would be the easiest to shove aside. Five minutes passed, no luggage.

Wreeeeeeent. Eyes widened with betrayal as Carousel 2 sounded off. A shake-of-the-head and chuckle later, I too finally arose. But, I was too late. The mob only took seconds to shift its position. Another shake of the head.

As I sat back down, I happened to glance up into the windows of a hidden room on the far right, and was horrified. There, with a devilish grin, sat the Carousel operator. As his hands closed for prayer and his fingertips tapped together with percise repetition, the sweat began dripping over his forehead with the anticipation of finally pushing Carousel 1's button again.