Saturday, April 20, 2013

Left Luggage

          We spent five days in Napa Valley last week. It was a lovely vacation. The only part that wasn't lovely was the inevitable Getting There and Getting Back.

          I can't claim that the flights out or back were horrible in any way—delayed or canceled—nor that the TSA agents were any more surly than usual (in fact, the agents in Sacramento were almost civil—but that's because they live in California where every day is a perfect day, and even hard-bitten TSA agents are not entirely immune to the charms of perpetually lovely weather), nor that the airports we traveled through were unpleasant (we were not connecting through Chicago, and every flight that doesn't go through O'Hare is a successful flight, in my book). We had good flying weather, newer planes, and capable crews.

          And yet, in the atmosphere at every airport, mixed with the ubiquitous tang of jet fuel, is the pale inescapable miasma of despair. Someone, somewhere in the airport is missing a flight (inevitably, many someones). Someone whose last antisocial action was a little drunken cow-tipping one summer evening back in 1954 is tagged for the Extra-Invasive Potential-Terrorist Full-Body Patdown and Rendition to an Offsite Facility Service now offered at all airports as a customer-relations program by TSA. Someone's luggage is lost. Someone else's luggage is shunted off to an unfrequented loading dock in the lesser-traveled quadrants of Alpha Centauri, never to be heard from again. Doom hangs bleakly over airports in a way that it would never think of doing over train stations, smothering any happiness and cheer that may have managed to clear Security.

          So imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone at the Sacramento airport—in the baggage claim area, no less—has a sense of whimsy and the budget to commission art that shares it:

If you've ever lost a bag at an airport, you might consider a journey to Sacramento,
which seems to have some sort of gravitational pull on orphaned luggage.

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