This is a story about things that I've lost over the course of about a thousand flights in the last seven years. Luggage doesn’t count, because I’ve never had luggage permanently lost. In fact, my bags have eluded me only once, at home in Boston. The next morning, I walked downstairs and took my suitcase from the delivery man. No problem. We had a less splendid time dealing with Normal Girl’s luggage back in October, but that’s another story for another day.
There isn’t a whole lot of space on commercial aircraft these days, not even in the front. So you might be wondering how I could manage to lose anything
. But you also probably raised your eyebrows yesterday when I mentioned leaving my keys in the refrigerator (and once in the freezer, too, for good measure). IN any event, here’s the inventory of things I’ve left behind…My Favorite Coat
This wasn’t my favorite coat at the time, but my favorite coat of all time
. Manufactured by Brooks Brothers, but one of my rare lucky finds at the outlets in Wrentham, it was a black cashmere pea coat. My build isn’t easy—most everything runs way too small or the sleeves hang past my fingers—but that coat fit like it had been tailored to my precise dimensions. (Imagine the wistful expression on my face as I wax on about this damn coat).
I flew from Tucson to Denver, before catching the last flight to Boston. Those short hauls came with automatic upgrades for the highest status level on United Airlines back then (before the Ted experiment, before bankruptcy). I didn’t need the coat in Tucson, and it was too bulky for my roller bag, so I cradled it in my arms like an infant when I boarded.
“May I take your coat?” the flight attendant asked.
Here’s the thing. When they take your coat in first class, it’s kind of a pain in the ass. Sure, the jacket doesn’t wrinkle, and it’s not going to end up with a stain from somebody’s luggage. And yes, I realize I’m complaining about first class… However, the routine is for them to present your coat while preparing the cabin for landing. It makes perfect logical sense – once the wheels touch the ground, there’s too much going on for them to distribute the laundry. But it means you have to hug your coat for the last twenty minutes of the flight. Somehow this bothered me. (Like many things that bother me, I realize I may be alone in my irritation).
For whatever reason, I handed it over rather than fold it inside out (travel tip: the liner protects against other luggage in the bin) and tuck it overhead.
They did not hand out the coats that afternoon.
An hour later, moments before boarding my flight to Boston, I realized I was missing something. My coat! My favorite coat! I called down to the gate. Left a message for DEN lost and found. Learned where that plane traveled to on its subsequent two flights. Left messages at those airports. Nothing.
I’m still looking for a coat like that one… *Sniffle* *Sniffle*The Mayor of Casterbridge
All together, I’ve probably left a dozen books or notebooks in seat pockets. How hard is it to check that pocket before deplaning? Depends how many drinks you’ve had… But seriously, the odds are that in 500 flights you’re going to forget something, and books are easy. They slip down, and when you peer inside you see SkyMall, the Safety Information Card, a prior passenger’s garbage, and a barf bag. The good news is that by leaving The Mayor of Casterbridge
for United Airlines to find, I escaped reading it.A Very Expensive Gift
I’m not going to say what it was exactly, but I’ll tell you that it was smaller than a book and larger than a nickel. Before I brought it aboard, I told myself it was a very bad idea. “You’re going to lose it,” mumbled a voice I tend to ignore. If I’m not mistaken, the passenger beside me commented on how nice it was. Straight to the bottom of the seat pocket. Some lucky maintenance worker might even be using it today.My Mind
Well, not quite. But close. So very close.Leather Wallet o’ Business Cards
My parting gift from a prior employer was a leather wallet to hold my business cards. It was from Longchamps, which I surmise to be an expensive accessories boutique merely from their location on the ritzy end of Newbury Street in Boston. Of course I decided to carry it, because my pockets were not overflowing already with my regular wallet, cell phone (they weren’t quite so slim seven years ago), keys, etc.
Got home and realized: Oops, left my business cards on the plane. Bummer.
Lo and behold, the item whose loss concerned me the least was the one that turned up in my mailbox. A flight attendant (bless her heart) saw the address on the fifty business cards inside and voilà, I had a fancy carrying case for my useless business cards again.
Not so fast. One week later, I transferred my laundry from the washing machine to the dryer. What’s that at the bottom? Uh oh, my mangled business card wallet.
Do you see what Normal Girl puts up with???Last, but not least: my top-of-the-line, über-fancy, high-definition, Bluetooth-capable, WiFi-enabled, but completely useless Dell Axim x50 Personal Digital Assistant
I was thrilled about this gadget. Loaded it with contacts, tasks, and a flashcard program to teach me Spanish. Learned how to write quickly in their special shorthand. Carried that thing everywhere. And then after a while I realized it was spending a lot of time in my work bag and not as much time in use.
I elected to give it one more try. Of course, the memory had vanished by then, so I had to reload, re-associate, and re-sync. “This thing works great!” I proclaimed.
At the apex of this last-ditch attempt to use my costly toy for something other than solitaire, I took it out before one of my last flights from San Juan to Boston in early July. Checked off some tasks, added some tasks, checked my calendar, surfed the Internet on the free WiFi. Started talking to Mark (the guy beside me). Set the PDA in the seat beside me. Chit-chatted some more. Drinks came. Dinner was served. We broke to do some “real work” on our laptops. Landed. Deplaned. Took a taxicab home.
The next morning, I realized my PDA was not in the front pouch of my messenger bag. Where could it be? In the seat, that’s where. I called Logan and San Fran (where the plane went in the morning) and left messages at lost and found. They did not return my call. I know the policy is they’ll call only if they find your missing item, but I’m an Executive Platinum! (Insert indignant rant here).Guess what Normal Girl found under the couch last weekend…