And at the end of the day, my shoes still smelled like plum wine

(Note: This continues my travels described here.) I made it through the flight – I managed to get my headphones on and I think the nice lady beside fell asleep, or hibernated, or whatever they do where she came from. We got to Denver in good time, ten minutes early. Who ever heard of a plane being early? I wasn’t complaining. I would have plenty of time to take pictures for my Magical-Mystery-Tour out of DIA.

I was sitting in row 4, so I was one of the first people on the plane (and before you go thinking, Ooh, look at Mr. Bigshot showing off in first class, there was no first class on the plane. The inside is under 6 feet high, there are two seats on each side of the one aisle.) I get off the plane and start taking pictures. Snap a picture of the plane, wait for some people to go by, snap a picture going into the terminal, wait for some people to go by, picture of some stairs, people, conveyor, people… you get the idea. I wasn’t exactly trying for a speed record getting out of there. It was one if the afternoon, I had all the time in the world.

I got to baggage claim about 25 minutes later and figured I’d swing by, grab my bag and head to the shuttle to get to my car. Check the baggage claim station, walking there, wonderful, I see my bag going around. Here it comes and that’s not my bag. Just one that looks like it. Exactly like it. Except it has an ID tag, and my bag didn’t. Oh well, the bags from my flight must not be out yet. The sign above the baggage claim says… my bag should be here. And there is a distinct lack of people I recognize from the flight. Yes, a lot of people had connections, but I should see someone familiar also waiting, right?

As I said before, it’s impossible for bags not to make it on the plane if you get on the plane in Bismarck. (Except that one time a few years ago around Christmas when some of the bags were too heavy. Yes, the plane was too heavy so they left some bags behind. Either there were some very oversized people on the plane or someone was trying to bring bricks back with them. Really, don’t they give themselves a little room for error in this situation? The official explanation I got was that they were also carrying mail on the flight and that took up the pounds normally reserved for baggage. Do you know how much I paid to be on that flight? More than 34 cents, put my damn bags on the plane.) Long story short, bag should’ve been there, but it wasn’t.

I walked down a few baggage thingies, and back the other way, just to see if my bag somehow got lost and came up the wrong ramp (Bad bag, I told you not to wander off! I hate it when they get old enough to move by themselves) but no luck. I got in line for the baggage claim assistance and believe me, if ever a place could use a little sunshine, that was it. I’m seeing the bag that looks exactly like mine, only it isn’t mine and come to the conclusion that my bag is in someone else’s trunk headed across town. Fuck.

So I called Rhiannon to tell her I was safe and standing in line at the baggage claim place to tell them that someone took my bag. She asked if there was a number on the tag. (Yes there was.)

“No, of course not, I would’ve noticed.” “Oh, I just thought maybe there would’ve been.” “Yeah, I would’ve checked that, but thanks.”

Hang up. Walk back over to bag and get phone number from the ID tag. Mentally remind self that I am the smart one in the relationship. Fail and berate self for being an idiot.

I called the number on the bag and got a cell phone voice mail – great, the guy doesn’t have his phone on and is moving farther away from me all the time. I got back in line for the dark, dark place and my phone rang. The number I just called.

“Hello.” “I’ve got your bag.”

A small beam of light shines down on just me, not enough to illuminate any of the other people. Sorry other people, but I have my luggage and I am out of here. Enjoy your stay in hell.

We work out that I will grab his bag and we’ll meet at a restaurant on the way back into town. I grab the bag and walk out to the shuttle pickup. Something was damp when I picked up the bag, but whatever, I was going to get my luggage back. I was standing outside waiting and my hand was sticky – and it smelled sweet. Weird. I didn’t touch anything like that.

A random guy beside me says, “I think your bag is leaking.” I look down. That guy is perceptive, as there is a huge red puddle under the back corner of the bag. And the corner of the bag is on my shoe. And there is a broken bottle of wine in the bag. And my hand is still sticky. And I’m going back to past tense now.

I called Rhiannon and told her everything was going to be ok, more to tell myself everything was going to be ok. And she was “Great, just don’t let them pin the broken wine on you. And then kill you.”

Ok, she didn’t say kill you, but that was the end of the sentence. I got on the shuttle. Someone else told me my bag was leaking.

“Yeah, it’s not my bag. It’s some other guy’s and there’s broken wine in it.” I got a look that said I was pathetic and it was so my bag and just admit it already loser. But it really wasn’t my bag – I just looked like I was stealing it. And then I just shut up.

I met the guys at the restaurant, (thankfully they were really cool about the wine, the guy said he saw his bag fall off the ramp going onto the plane. And it even stopped leaking. And didn’t get everything soaked in his bag.) And then they bought me a beer and talked. And they didn’t kill me. So, overall, a successful day.

And then I found $20. (Not really, but after everything else, it’s completely believable.)