Only my husband could return home under such circumstances. Yes, I did hear the dog bark at 1 a.m., signaling his arrival. Yes, I did wonder (but only slightly) why it took an extra half-hour for him to finally come upstairs and lie down next to me, heavy sighs predominately factoring into our late-night greeting. "You're not going to believe this," he groans.
He forgot his wallet on the plane? The airline lost his luggage? He didn't have any money to pay the cab driver and so still has him sitting in our driveway? "Worse."
"TSA locked Big Bertha." For those of you who may not completely understand, Big Bertha is a hard-sided, enormous-borderlining-on-obnoxiously-large suitcase Yukon purchased at Costco, and which I detest on trips. B.B. goes everywhere with Yukon, however, in a little love affair of "stuff" my husband manages to accumulate whenever he goes down to Portland. And here we were with her 110 lbs of booty safely locked up tighter than a...well, you get the picture.
If it wasn't so serious, I'd laugh (well, I did laugh, a little). Yukon did have some quite important medication inside the thing, and some perishable goodies bought from Trader Joe's, so it became imperative that we figured out a way to break the code.
Yes, the keys were still inside. Why? Simple. TSA tells us, quiet emphatically, I might add, NOT to lock luggage. We, in our quest to fulfill at least some form of patriotic duty, abide by this rule. But probably should have taken the keys out, now that I think about it. But then we'd have to find a place for them, and sheesh, I have enough trouble keeping track of my car keys I use every day...
Yukon rose from his travel-induced coma and started calling airports. Knowing that it was the PDX'ers who but the kibash on his Bertha, he first called the Anchorage Baggage gurus who gave him a "Well, shoot, I dunno how we can do anything, we don't actually help people, we just ask the size and color of your bag with this little picture card." They did, however, give us the phone number of the Portland TSA, asked for a supervisor, and found that, indeed, somebody really screwed up. I could hear the swear words over the phone lines.
Long story short; we bundled up B.B. in the truck, took her to church and out to lunch, which she enjoyed very much, and ended up at the Anchorage International Airport, where Bear and I amused ourselves counting cars and playing "I Spy" while Yukon, in a feat of strength, manhandled Bertha out of the truck, onto the icy sidewalk, and on into the Alaska Airlines baggage department, where, apparently, the TSA Portland Manager had made his wishes known. They were waiting with a big ring of keys that in a jiffy freed our Trader Joe's Applewood Sausages from their rapidly-warming prison.
And the keys are dangling from my ears this morning. I finally found a place to keep them. Kind of cute and very appropriate for a travel writer. Maybe I can hang around the airport and unlock other people's luggage with my new earrings. Wouldn't that be something?