The Missing Notebook

by vpundir | June 9th, 2007

The saga of my stupidity continues.

Firstly, I slept off the whole day yesterday, instead of taking the opportunity to go around and take some goodbye shots of the city. In my defence, it was pretty gray and rained quite a bit, and the hotel bed was warm and cozy.

But there’s more! As I stand in the luggage check-in line, I’m hoping that no one will notice that my wheeled duffle-bag is larger than the allowance for carry-ons. While the books inside would probably fit into a regulation carry-on, the base of the bag has a metal frame due to the wheels, and that frame is longer and wider than what’s permitted. In short, if they ask me to put the bag in the carry-on bag measurement checking box, I’ll need to go shopping for bags in a hurry. So I try to keep it out of the line of sight of the agent as I approach the counter.

As the lady at the “Kiosk Assistance” checks me in, she automatically asks if I am checking in any baggage. I tell her that I am, but that I’d like to get them wrapped in cellophane at Wrap-a-Bag before I do so. She goes, “Why don’t you use TSA locks? If you wrap them, if the TSA wants to have a look, they’ll tear all the wrapping off.”

“I’m not worried about pilferage, I’m worried about the bags tearing off and opening”, I tell her. “But tell me, what’s a TSA lock?”

“Oh, these are locks that you can get here at the airport or Wal*Mart or practically anywhere for which the TSA has the master-keys. So they can open them up and have a look inside if they want to.”

This is great! After 3 years, and 35,000 airline miles, I discover the concept of TSA locks on the day I’m leaving the country for good.

Anyway, since the attachés are already bordering on 71, I decide to not get them wrapped and ask the nice lady to check them in as they are. $70 takes care of the excess weight for both of them, and I’m off to the security gates without having my carry-ons commented on.

One down, one more to go. You see, the duffle-bag is not just large, it’s pretty heavy because of all the books inside. In fact, I weighed it yesterday before the airline staff came in; it came to 27 kg, while the allowance is 10 kg.

The suspence reaches its climax when to put it into the x-ray machine, a TSA agent actually has to pick up my duffle-bag. She is surprised by the weight, but lets it slide. Whew! Elated, I collect my my bags, shoes, belt, cellphone, wallet, and $17.87 worth of coins.

As I am going down the escalator, I get that sinking feeling – I don’t remember having put my laptop back in the knapsack. For one second I convince myself that maybe I did and just don’t remember it. But that doesn’t seem right. Can’t check on the escalator, with all the hordes of people flanking me on all sides.

Upon reaching the bottom, I get out of the way of the crowd and open the knapsack. The laptop is not there. I need to get back up to the security screening area to get back my laptop. But I don’t see any escalator’s going up!

I ask the next guy with a badge that passes me by. He points me to the elevator. Right! I stow both the bags in a corner and press the button to call the elevator. I hope this elevator takes me to the space AFTER the security screen. The geography seems right, but if it takes me beyond that area, I don’t want to take the bags through security again.

The elevator car finally comes after what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was closer to 5-6 minutes (pretty long time for a lift running only 3-floors, I’d say). I go up to the security gate I had passed through and ask an agent, who points me to a desk. Apparently, that’s TSA’s lost and found counter. The officer there asks me a few questions, makes me boot-up and log-in, and makes me sign a form before giving me back my laptop.

This could have been a pretty expensive mistake. But as they say, “no harm, no foul”.

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