by cheri block
Here I am in Jordan. That’s right. Amman, Jordan. I’m wedged among others who don’t speak my language in the hanger of the Royal Jordanian Airlines.
My arduous odyssey began innocently enough in Quebec when The Judge lifted me up by my love handles and set me on a scale at “The Best Airport in North America,” or so its banners boasted. From my vantage point there, prostrate on that cold rubber conveyor belt, I saw his face express dismay at the weight I had gained while on our vacation. If I could have spoken to him at that moment, I would have reminded him that within me, were lovingly selected presents for the grandchildren.
He muttered out loud, wondering why Cheri could not pack her clothing, three pairs of high heels, lingerie, belts, sweaters, make-up, books, and wires into a smaller bag.
And then, just to keep me company, he reluctantly threw his small carry-on size bag onto the belt and off we went with a host of others into a breezy holding area.
In Chicago, Cheri greeted me with her usual smile and aplomb, shepherding me from Customs to the American baggage handlers who, not surprisingly, spoke English with Russian accents.
And off I went again, followed obediently by The Judge’s bag whom, for this story, I will call Wisenheimer.
The two of us bumped along the belt, where folks in jumpsuits were checking their Facebook accounts and just shooting the breeze. Occasionally, one of them would tug at my handle, studying the airport destination tag for a second. I watched the fellow in front of me, a handsome leather Samsonite, as he was yanked off the belt suddenly and heaved into a cart with others on their way to Detroit.
Wisenheimer and I traveled on, that cold night in Chicago, I ahead of him. In order to distinguish us from the others, Cheri had attached bright red rubber grips to our handles. From my zipper dangled an approved TSA lock, if truth be told, a useless gizmo, but one which makes her feel better when parting with me.
I could see the light at the end of the conveyor belt. There waiting for us was a metal cart, stacked with other bags whose tags read SFO. A melody struck up in my heart.
“San Fran-cis-co here I come,
Right back where I started from,
The bowers, of flowers, bloom in the spring,
One morn-ing, at dawn-ing,
Birdies sing and ev-ry-thing,
The sun says, ‘Mister don’t be late!’
That’s why I can hard-ly wait,
O-pen up your Golden Gate,
Cal-i-forn-ya, here I come!”
However, just before I made it to the cart, one of the baggage handlers pulled me from my SFO convoy. I screamed. Wisenheimer blew by me and winked in judgment. He was gone in the proverbial flash.
Vladimir said to his partner Yuri, “SFO, dude. Does that mean So Far, OK?”
No, Yuri answered. “It means RJA.”
And before I could protest, I found myself lying at the top of a heap of baggage all of whom were speaking Arabic and being loaded into the cold bowels of a Royal Jordanian Airlines 747.
And here I sit, waiting for a trip home.
Now, as an unaccompanied bag coming in from the Middle East and one who can only answer questions in English and Spanish, I will be subjected to a thorough search and maybe theft.
Only God knows if Cheri’s shoes will make it back to the Rancho.