Lost luggage: A traveler’s tale for the holidays

We have all had some sort of traumatic travel experience. Here's a story to make you feel better the next time your travel plans hit a snag.

CHARLOTTE, November 23, 2012 – At one time or another we have all experienced a personal horror story about airport delays, inclement weather or lost reservations. So it seemed appropriate during this holiday season to relate a story about one man’s nightmare that should make everyone feel better the next time they encounter an unexpected turn of events in your itinerary.

Several years ago I was on a trip with a 70-year old travel writer named Bruce Hamby. Hamby was as surly on the inside as his gruff exterior. I often wondered why people like Bruce even bothered to stay in the travel business after being everywhere and seeing everything at least twice.

Upon our arrival in Rome, the large metallic luggage carousel began its slow counter-clockwise rotation. Gradually passengers spotted their belongings and forced their way through the sea of bodies to recapture the traveling components of their lives. 

Within ten minutes or so everyone had claimed their suitcases and was ready to go. Everyone, that is, except Bruce.

“We’ll file a claim,” replied Merle, the Pan Am rep asssisting our group. “And when they locate the luggage I’ll have them send it to the hotel.  Do you have anything with you at all?”

“I always bring my shaving things and a few extra things in my carry-on.  Been traveling long enough to anticipate this kind of crap from the airlines,” Hamby snarled.

“We’ll get your baggage back as quickly as we can. Meanwhile, when we get to Rome, go ahead and pick up a few other things to wear, save your receipts and we’ll reimburse you.”

Merle knew that if Bruce’s luggage didn’t turn up right away, there was a bigger problem looming since the group was traveling to Ischia the next day.

As anticipated, Bruce’s luggage did not arrive in Rome in time for our departure to Ischia. Consequently, while everyone else enjoyed an afternoon of leisure in Ischia Porto, Bruce used the time to go shopping.

That night at dinner the highlight was far from the women’s afternoon. Instead it was Bruce’s shopping excursion. Mother Nature had long ago taken her toll on Bruce, and Italian clothing was not at all agreeable with his physique.

He had become a creature of reverse metamorphosis whereby the butterfly was turning into a caterpillar. 

On his best day Bruce could be described as looking like a sack of shrink-wrapped potatoes. A slumped posture and shuffling manner of walking only magnified his lumpy features. At least, Bruce’s purchases had been stylish.  Stylish, that is, had he been a twenty year old Adonis with five percent body fat instead of a replica of the Pillsbury Doughboy.               

Bruce was now outfitted in a white shirt with a tapering waistline that narrowed severely at the bottom. The two lower buttons were performing a Herculean feat of straining to remain fastened from the pressure of Bruce’s flesh that was bursting behind the seams.  Diamond shaped gaps formed between the buttons with little blobs of hairy skin poking through the holes. 

At the neck, the top button squeezed off the circulation to Bruce’s head, spreading a rosy color across his face, occasionally leaving him wheezing for air. He also sported a thin red tie, which in no way filled the gap between his collars, nor did it shield his exposed bits of torso. Bruce was now the human manifestation of an Italian sausage.                           

When we arrived back in Rome three days later, Bruce became grouchier after learning that his luggage was still somewhere in the nether regions of Europe

Realizing he needed another pair of pants to compliment his ensemble, Bruce went shopping once again. Sadly, he had learned nothing from his earlier mistakes. When he managed to acquire a pair of slacks, he discovered they were gradually tapered along the calf from the knees to his ankles. Though his trousers fit at the waist, the crotch was cut so that it hoisted his genitals into a grotesque little wad at one side or the other.

The result being that when Bruce walked into the room all eyes immediately focused on his groin where the bulge in his pants looked as though he was concealing a small bag of jelly beans.

When his luggage arrived on the last day of the trip, Bruce was thrilled. No longer would he be a poster boy for a Picasso painting.

The return flight to New York was late forcing several members of our group to rush for connections. Since Bruce and I and two others had longer layovers, we remained back while Merle assisted everyone else.

The following day I called Merle to thank him for my latest adventure.

We talked for a moment and then he said, “By the way did you hear what happened to Bruce?”

“No!  You mean something else happened to him?”

“Sure did. We got him on his plane back home, but his luggage didn’t make it.  We lost his bags again! Can you believe that?” laughed Merle.

Several years later Bruce passed away, but I often think about his fateful journey with all his trials and tribulations. Somehow I know that up there in curmudgeon heaven Bruce is finally able to smile, for at last he has found the ultimate travel destination, and best of all, he didn’t have to take any luggage.

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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