Posts Tagged ‘rolling luggage’

Fish Out of Water, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Nothing like traveling to make a person feel like a fish out of water. It’s an unnatural act, moving among strangers in airports and on airplanes. I sat next to man for two hours from Albuquerque to San Francisco and said nary a word. Not even “Hi.” Which is how I like it, but my Lord, yesterday on the one-hour drive to Jemez Springs Jim did the “New Mexico wave” (two fingers lifted off the steering wheel) to more people in passing cars than I’ll manage to acknowledge in the next 24 hours.

At this moment, sitting in the San Francisco airport, I’m feeling more bull in a china shop than fish out of water. I checked one piece of luggage but still have a soft leather carry-on that is mostly empty right now but will be filled with scarves and other goodies on the return leg. Then there’s my Samsonite laptop backpack, along with my large-dictionary-sized drawing-and-writing supply satchel. I bent down to pick up a piece of paper I’d dropped in the security line and ended up bopping a kid in the back of the head with two of my bags. Right now all my carry-ons and I are spread across three chairs, like we own the place.

When I went to Spain back in the mid-80s, with clothes and stuff enough to live there for a year, I carried a giant tote bag that was so heavy I had to nudge it with my booted foot down the side of the road. The only rolling anything they made back then were racks-with-wheels, the kind you had to bungie your luggage to, and since only old people bothered with those I used the kick-the-can method. I didn’t get my can even out of eyeshot of the train terminal before someone came along and offered to take me to a guest house with rooms for rent. The guy got me to the place without hitch—I ended up renting a room there for two weeks—although I’d never get into a stranger’s car these days.

Ah, there goes another fish out of water. First off, she’s a she. Not many of us single women around, and for all I know her husband and two kids with matching Dora-the-Explora rollaway bags are waiting for her around the corner. But I suspect not. She has a huge purse plus the kind of ginormous Coach shoulder bag that could knock a quarterback off his feet, much less two little kids. And she’s wearing a black dress, red shawl, and dainty round-big-toe sandals. Not the gauzy pants, layered t-shirts and sweatshirts, and Dankos that most traveling mothers wear.

Mostly I recognize the way she looked at me when she passed. A sort of “Ah, maybe I’ll grab a magazine and make myself at home in a quiet corner instead of wandering about the place feeling conspicuous” glance.


Postscript: I’m presently in San Francisco en route to Vietnam for another work-related visit—my sixth since 2005. I’ve written several posts about travel and specifically Vietnam; this post contains links to a bunch of them. Vietnam was the inspiration for finishing the doodle in this post, which I sketched in a pencil outline almost two years ago. Fish Out of Water was a red Ravine writing topic in September 2007. I finished the doodle on my last trip to Vietnam.

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By Marylin

Chrome Hubcaps, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Chrome Hubcaps, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am baffled by most of the high-tech inventions that have come into our lives in recent years, so I am going to express my appreciation for one that is really low-tech. How low? Well, how about wheels? Not just any wheels. I’m talking about the ones that have made my traveling life so much easier and better! I have been an enthusiastic traveler for many years, and being a woman only five-feet tall, with mighty muscles-of-mush, the lugging of luggage has always been a challenge.

My first set of wheels was on a metal cart, in the mid-1970’s. I had observed airline attendants using these and thought they would be great; and they were. It just took time to get my bags strapped on, and a few times the bungee cord wasn’t fastened in quite the right strategic position, and my belongings gradually looked like they were about to drop off, each going its own separate way! But my skill at hooking boxes and bags on the cart improved, and I was even able to keep apace with the British Railroad cars, which only allowed ninety seconds at each stop, for disembarking!

The first wheels I saw actually attached to luggage were on bags belonging to a group of Japanese tourists. I’m sure I turned a lovely shade of jealous green, with eyes glazed over. I had to have a wheeled bag! The first one that came into our local stores only had two wheels on one end, with a strap at the other. I didn’t linger to try it out; I just handed over my money, and could hardly wait to use it.

While it did save time and I didn’t have to bother with the cart, it wasn’t entirely satisfactory. As I mentioned, I am “vertically challenged,” which meant I had to lift my end of the bag by its strap. This proved to be worthy of being an Olympic event which, unfortunately, I had not trained for and so was very tiring.

There had to be a better way. There was, or so I thought when I spied a different version. Yes, it still had a strap but it came with four wheels, one on each corner — a proper set-up for wheels, right? After all, this is where cars, trucks and buses have their wheels; it can’t miss! It rolled along behind me, smoothly, about 90% of the time. Unfortunately, the remaining 10%, it fell onto its side as if it had lost its balance. This happened at very inopportune times, usually while I was entering or leaving crowded elevators in posh hotels. The cause had to be something about going over uneven surfaces (like doorways) that made it behave like a falling-down drunk!

Two decades have passed since my quest for the perfect luggage began, and I am finally satisfied. Again, in observing flight attendants I decided to purchase the same kind of luggage they were now using — a bag with two wheels on the bottom and a rigid, collapsible double bar on top. I can pull it, push it, turn it any way I want; it follows without falling or even faltering! I love it!

In my opinion, frequent flyers should be rewarded for time spent in the airport, as well as in the air. In the meantime, I am just happy that someone thought of the “moving sidewalk,” enabling one to either rest a bit or make “double time” when racing to catch a plane. That telescoping walk-way that we now use to board the plane can only be truly appreciated by those of us who used to sprint out on the tarmac to the plane and up the stairs during a blizzard, with a wind-chill factor of minus 60 degrees!

Ah, so many inventions connected to travel to be grateful for, but luggage with wheels is still my favorite!

    Free Wheelin, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Lock & Key, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Texture, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Marylin (aka oliverowl) is a freelance writer living in Wyoming. She has written essays for a weekly column in the Ventura Star Tribune and collaborated on two picture books for children with her grandson. She currently writes with the Cody Writers. This is her second piece for red Ravine. You can read more from Marylin in her post, Kindness.

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