My trusty old suitcase, which has been my constant companion to airports, hotels, cruise ships, road trips and more for about a decade, has finally cried “enough!”. I knew the end was coming…for months now the pull-up handle has been temperamental, and I could see the day coming when it would finally jam (probably in the extended position, and probably at an airport check in queue). In the back of my mind, this awkward situation would end with airline staff either refusing to load it – or bringing out a hacksaw to solve my dilemma. But still, despite this nagging fear, I did nothing…and my bag finally took a stand on its own.
It rolled out on the carousel at Queenstown airport after a 40 minute flight from Nelson with zips burst open and my toilet bag and pyjamas spilling out for the world to see. Could have been worse, I guess. How? Well, for starters, I’d been on the road for a week without access to a washing machine. Enough said. And also, tucked into the centre of the bag, wrapped up in a big coat, was a bottle of Marlborough’s fine Sauvignon Blanc (thankfully intact).
So my first task on arrival in Queenstown was buying a new case. My old one was red. When I bought it I thought it would stand out in the sea of black bags, but as time went on every second bag was red too. In Queenstown’s only luggage shop I could have lime green, purple, fire-engine red or of course the usual grey and black. They all seemed too big or too small. I didn’t want one that was from Pierre Cardin. I remembered that luggage buying should be done in a well-researched, calm and considered manner. I was rushed and harried. The sales woman was determined to be helpful. Finally, I ripped off the band-aid, grabbed one that looked roughly the right size, paid up and got out of the shop. It’s boring black. A friend consoles me by telling me that “black is back”. I’ll find a bright pink ribbon to stick on the handle, move over all the assorted luggage tags that mark it as “mine” at a glance, and off we’ll go.
One last bit of advice is needed. A matter of etiquette. Is it bad form to leave my old case in my hotel room when I leave?