Fortunately, the line wasn't too long, but unfortunately, they confiscated my brand new bottle of Aveeno Clearly Radiant Facial Wash. Because it exceeded four ounces.
Once I made it through security, six point seven ounces lighter, I wound myself through the Terminal and directly in to the restroom. From there, I dropped in to the airport convenience store where I purchased a bottle of water and a small bag of trail mix that I planned to enjoy during my flight. All along, I kept thinking to myself how convenient it was that I was traveling so light. Unlike my most recent travels when I was responsible for managing four children - and twelve pieces of carry on luggage (and a stroller and a carseat) - this time, it was just me, my one suitcase and my backpack.
I felt so light, I could fly.
After I paid for my purchases, I walked up to my gate and while waiting to board my plane, I sat down and cracked open a book. "Eat, Pray, Love." I've been trying to get through this book for at least two years and never had the motivation to finish it. But now, with a full day of traveling before me, there were no excuses.
Fifteen minutes later, it was time to board and as I walked up to the gate attendant, I suddenly felt like something was wrong. Yes, I was traveling light. But it felt like I was traveling a little too light. Scanning around me, my stomach dropped to my shoes when it dawned on me that my suitcase was gone.
My mind started racing. The plane was leaving in a matter of minutes, but I couldn't leave without my suitcase. I did bring it, right?
Yes. Yes, I must have because I gave George a bracelet and my facial soap was confiscated. Spinning around on my heels, I yelled to the gate attendant who had her hand outstretched to receive my boarding pass, "I'll be right back! Please don't leave without me!!"
I dodged around the people standing in line behind me and ran through the terminal. Just then, Charlie called and I answered my cell phone while panting, "Oh my heavens, I lost my suitcase!" My husband was alarmed. "What do you mean you lost your suitcase? How could you LOSE your suitcase?" I yelled back, "I don't know! I DON'T KNOW! Apparently, I am unable to travel successfully unless I'm managing a MASSIVE quantity of luggage and several little people!"
As I was sprinting through the terminal, I spotted a small cluster of TSA agents, standing directly across from the Women's Restroom and small airport store. They had their back to the main passage, but I could see that they had lifted something small and black on to the chairs, had zipped it open, and were carefully inspecting the contents.
Once I ran up to them, I could clearly see that they had my suitcase, and hanging out of that suitcase in all of it's glory were clothes and a toiletry bag that was vibrating. To Charlie on the phone I said, "There it is, Hurray I found it!" and to the TSA agents, I declared, "Hi how are you doing? Yup. That looks like my bag!"
Right away, one of the TSA agents, with "Supervisor" on his jacket stepped forward and very sternly asked, "Ma'am, who is on the phone?" When I told him it was my husband, he ordered me to hang up immediately. Charlie was asking "What's happening? JEN! What's happening?" before I whispered, "I've got to go, I'll call you later!" and disconnected the line.
Then I stood there, with my arms by my side, my hand tightly clutching my phone, and a weak smile on my face. Hoping, no - fervently praying - that nothing within my bag could be misconstrued as a weapon. Or worse yet, concerned that someone had tampered with my bag and planted something deadly in the short time it was out of my possession.
The agent sized me up before saying, "Ma'am, this bag has been unattended for twenty minutes." I took a deep breath and responded, "Sir, I am so sorry - I must have left it when I went to either the restroom or store to buy some water." He then asked me a series of questions. "When are you leaving? What is your airline? Where and why are you traveling?"
I tried to summon calm because I didn't want to come off as totally alarmed or trying to hide something. So I carefully answered his questions. "My plane is leaving now. I'm flying American. I am traveling to South Carolina to attend the funeral of my dear uncle who lost his battle to cancer yesterday."
Then I added, just because I felt compelled to do so, "I travel all the time and this is the first time I have ever lost my suitcase. Why, just last month, I traveled with our four-year-old triplets and two-year-old toddler and husband - and all of their stuff - and we made it to the other side of the country without losing a single thing. Not even our minds!"
The agent wasn't listening to me. Instead, he held up a plastic bag of brightly colored bracelets and asked, "What is 'BE AMAZING!'?" For a moment I completely forgot and I stared at the bag of bracelets as if it was the first time I had ever seen them. But then, once my brain recovered, I stuttered that the bracelets were for a fundraiser I was doing, with all proceeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. I had packed several of the bracelets so that I could hand them out to my friends and family as a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do before we find a cure and to help inspire them to do something amazing with their lives.
For the first time, his expression softened and he said, "I don't suppose wearing one of these is a reminder that you should NEVER leave your suitcase unattended in the middle of the airport. Huh?" I cringed before responding, "No, Sir. It sure isn't."
He seemed to accept my explanation, so he turned around and told the other agents that they could close up my luggage. Even though they had probably identified my toothbrush during their inspection, I didn't feel comfortable reaching over the TSA agents and opening up my toiletry bag to turn off my Sonicare. Still, I felt it was necessary to explain to this group of uniformed men that the vibrating device in my toiletry bag was indeed my battery operated toothbrush.
When I highlighted what I thought would be incredibly obvious to them, the supervisor just smiled at me and said, "Yes Ma'am. That's what they all say."
******Sorry for the delay in posting a winner on the most awesome block set ever.
The winner - as selected by the generator on Random Org is Samantha Cleys. Samantha, are you out there? CONGRATULATIONS! Please let me know if you'd like the blocks delivered to the address that you provided with your donation, or an alternate.
Thanks so very much to every one who ordered a bracelet and in doing so, were entered in to this totally legal contest. As always, that was great fun. We must do it again sometime.
Also, for anyone who ordered a bracelet since last Wednesday (9/30), I haven't yet had an opportunity to mail those out. I hope to send them within the next few days.
(If few means 10.)