Unpacking Fridays

Unpacking the missing case

The idea of Unpacking Fridays came to me as a way to improve my storytelling skills by sharing my own stories but also featuring other people in my circle as I believe we all have a story to tell. As we are walking into the weekend, today one of my greatest friends/editor, Dalya accepted to share with us her travel mishap. Brace yourself because this is not another just missed flight, lost luggage, left home alone story. This one will make you laugh, cry and all in all, make your day.

Some tales make us wince, while others pull on our heartstrings. I hope this one brings you a smile or even a few chuckles over these incredibly unfortunate events. Hold tight ’cause she’s a long one.

My story takes you to June 2016, to a worldly 19-year-old girl who just completed her freshman year in Germany. I was flying back home, Ethiopia, for summer. The university I went to is located in a city called Bremen and I was flying from an adjacent city, almost 2 hours away, called Hamburg. 4 hours before my official moving out procedure, I got the “brightest” idea to check-in my luggage. Now on a normal day, I would check and recheck all my flight details and my time management, but that day…I just had confidence.

As I was going to the train stop with my luggage, I started to have second thoughts. Maybe I should go back and leave right after I check out of my room. Nope, I am going with the original plan. With the plan of checking for the train’s arrival time, I leave my luggage 10 meters behind me and look at the board. After verifying the train time, I look back and notice that my luggage, the great Houdini, has done a magic act.

It has disappeared, without a trace.

To this day, I am unsure as to how someone took my luggage that fast. The thing weighed a lot! and I didn’t hear the wheeling sound. Unless the earth opened up and swallowed the luggage, it is scientifically inexplicable. It was just gone. I couldn’t even process what was happening, so I called my friends. They came to the train stop. I gave them a small briefing and they just stared at me. What do you do? What do you say? The luggage has grown legs and walked away!

(Side note to the thief, I commend your stealth! No hard feelings anymore and hope you’re enjoying my clothes.)

I spoke to campus security, with the urging of my friends, and also made a report to the police. But my luggage was never seen again.

I was so shocked I didn’t feel anything. I had dinner in the university cafeteria and did my room check out. I then left with a carry-on to Hamburg.

Guess what?! My train was delayed. (Hardy-har-har) I was so late.  I decided I couldn’t make it with the city tram, and I hailed a taxi. I wanted to tell the driver to go faster or I might miss my flight, but my vocabulary was very limited, so I just said “Schnell! Schnell!” which means “fast, fast!”. Every time he tried to start a conversation, I just said Schnell. Manners you say, why that’s my middle name. 

My knees were bouncing on my seat, feeling anxious and looking at the GPS and mentally calculating how long it will take the driver to reach my destination.

The penny drops. The realisation that there is a high possibility I will not make the check-in time window hit me. Time is of the essence; the pressure is on. I quickly paid my fare. It is time to let my Ethiopian “running genes” show.

Blind hope was born. I tried to evoke the finishing kick of Haile Gebreselassie in the 2000 Olympics and the fake confidence of Donald Trump in an attempt to get on that plane. I can do this. Yes girl, positivity! There’s no way I’m missing this flight. I am the little Deutsche Bahn ICE, Choo! choo! I did not care about what is acceptable or whether I should run as fast and as loud as I was.  I just ran until my poor, unfit lungs screamed in pain. (“Chariots of Fire” plays in the background)

Lo and behold, I did not make it. All that pain for nought! The lady at the gate kindly informed me that I was too late. I can’t believe this is happening to me. In case you’re wondering, I asked. No, I can’t just squish into the storage cabin, and no, the plane will NOT come back for me.

Wow, this is actually happening. I have officially missed my flight. The reality of the situation sinks in. My brain was just buffering, I didn’t know what to feel. Should I start to wail, ugly cry? Oh whyyyyy!! (echoes into the distance.)

In the end, I stared off into space. Angry at myself and the world. What a cursed day!

There I was, the saddest sight in the airport. Dragging my carry-on around in an otherwise empty gate. The lady at the gate was kind enough to direct me to the relevant people I should inform about what happened. Guess I had the look of a kid whose puppy was kicked, she tried to console me. That was nice of her.

I went to the counter and spoke to the attendant. Yet again, my watery eyes earned me pity. I settled on paying 200 euros to rebook my flight for the following day. And finally, I did a sad, crushing walk back to the waiting area. To wait for 24 hours.

Plod, plod, plod.

Wiping my tears away, I made sure that my countenance made it clear that from here on out anyone who crosses my path is met with fire and fury. I don’t know for sure though, I might have looked constipated.

Luckily (hah!) some company was doing some advertisement for sleeping pods, so I just got into one pod, connected to airport WIFI and called my uncle. The wrath of my parents scared me enough that I didn’t even attempt to call them. The sting of having to repeat the story over and over again in an effort to convince my uncle that “no, this is not a joke, I did miss my flight”; comical to a spectator.

We then came up with this plan to tell my mother that “Due to fear of terrorist attack, the flight was cancelled”. Yeah, not my best work.

After gruesome 24 hours of waiting and an additional 12 hours of flight and transit, I finally made it back home. Of course, my parents didn’t buy my stupid lies. They just didn’t want to stress me more than I was already, so they just let it go.

I don’t remember the next 13 hours. I was dead asleep.

All in all, 1/10. Traumatic experience and wouldn’t recommend. But at least, an entertaining story came out of it.

Let this be a warning for all travellers out there! Keep track of your flight details.

Thank you for joining me in unpacking this case (wink!) and hope you had fun.

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