Apparently when visiting New York City, most notably when walking through Queens at night, it’s a prerequisite that all luggage be in perfect working order. Oh sure, there are the obvious reasons of speed, mobility, looking as little like an outsider as possible, but there is another point that was left out of the book Top 10 Reasons Not to Buy a Cheap-assed Suitcase from Ross When You’re Visiting NYC.
The word “luggage” first appeared in printed English in 1596 and derives from the word “lug” which, roughly translated, means to drag something around (don’t go all source crazy on me here, I wiki-ed this info like a slacker Lit major). As luck would have it, confused and misdirected, I ended up dragging my bag through the burrow of Queens. I blame World War II. Before World War II we were dragging around trunks big enough to stow-away just about anything, i.e. small children, large quantities of sausage, books about how to stow-away in trunks, etc. My wardrobe would have fit in a trunk.
Instead of a trunk I got to shove my clothes into the cutest, Guess-brand, faux-reptile, front-heavy, piece of cloth and leather with a lovely aluminum pull handle for ease in transport. Thanks to the Bible it also had wheels. Yep, that’s right, the Bible gave my suitcase wheels…well, actually it was preacher James Cole who invented those suitcase wheels to roll around with the Word. Little consolation.
Back to World War II ruining my suitcase. You see, I filled that bag up and then some. I packed her until her seams bulged and I had to undo that other zipper that let’s her have some breathing room, similar to how I undo my pants at the dinner table but then shove dessert into my gullet. When I was through, my bag would not stand up on its wheels. It would lean then fall forward. Imagine having a severely obese woman balance on four baseballs. There you go, that’s the image!
In order to make it all work, I popped out the back pull-out handle, tilted her toward her rear and headed for the subway, down several flights of stairs, rode to West 44th Street, roamed the streets before realizing I wasn’t in Manhattan thus needing to find my way back to the subway, and watched helplessly as the weight of my fat baggage bent the aluminum pull handle and it broke off into two jagged pieces, half clanging onto the sidewalk and the other half still attached as death-daggers. Little Fatty was too heavy to carry so I did the only thing possible. No, I mean after the cursing. I drag-rolled her down the street using the small loop on top. This is when I came to realize the aforementioned point left out of the book…homeless people exalt luggage.
As I make my way down the cracked sidewalk, stumbling and tripping over Little Fatty, trying not get jabbed in my jugular by her jagged travel daggers and bleed out, dragging her on her wheels, and then not on her wheels, and then on her wheels again, I hear a voice calling to me like my spirit animal from across the quiet street, “Hey! Hey lady!” I look but see no one, so I stumble another two feet. “Hey lady!” It’s a rough voice, gravelly. I look around and see, in a shadowy area covered by awning, a homeless man sitting, no sprawling, on a stoop. He appears agitated. I try to drag Fatty faster. “Lady, what are you doing? What’cha doing with that suitcase? You’re gonna….you’re gonna break that suitcase! You’re GONNA break that suitcase!”
He’s sitting up now. This is the horror of his day. When his time comes to sleep I will have given him nightmares. While I awkwardly push, tug, drag and inwardly curse my faulty companion, worried about my own safety and geographical ineptitude, it is my suitcase that is in real danger. She is still viable. I feel guilty, so with much effort and grunting I pick all seventy-five pounds of her up like a baby and waddle slowly down the now-quiet street.
One week later, my journey has ended. As I tuck my things away into their proper homes, restore balance to the universe, discard the shrapnel that inevitably collects after such revelry, I know that somewhere there is a homeless person hoping to adopt a perfectly imperfect storage receptacle with four wheels, two small handles, jagged aluminum daggers, extra zipper for breathing room, and now (after a flight across the country) enough “checked baggage” tape to prevent accidental puncture wounds.