Sunday, September 9, 2007
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at email@example.com
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs I have a strict and long-standing policy to never travel with luggage I can manage.
I have permanent indentations in my shoulders from carrying excessive weight. Even if I have one carry-on bag, it's overflowing with clothes, books, notebooks and other miscellaneous items I'll probably never use, but have "just in case."
I like to pack clothes I rarely wear at home - clothes, which I don't particularly like or don't fit me quite right, that pack nicely in a suitcase. In the event of a water landing, I'd hate to ruin a favorite outfit. As soon as I reach my destination, I immediately miss the oversized sweatshirt and ratty sweatpants I live in.
In the good old days, before the underwire in my bra and the gelatinous goo in my hair gel were considered bomb-building materials, I carried on items such as a small color television, electric typewriter, Chicago's famous stuffed spinach pizza, huge duffle bags, and dozens of wrapped Christmas presents.
During my son's infant years, I frequently traveled with a stroller, portacrib, car seat, diapers, wipes, toys, sippy cups, snacks, two suitcases and a variety of things (some educational, some not) to occupy the little prince's attention at every waking moment.
If you ever want to experience what it's like to be invisible, borrow someone's infant (preferably crying), place screaming infant on your hip and start down the aisle of an airplane.
No one will look at you.
No one will offer to help you.
Everyone will hope and pray you are not in the seat next to them.
Sometimes people will even change seats to avoid you. I know this to be true because once, while traveling with my son and the above-mentioned accessories, my mother was allowed to board the flight with me to help schlep some of my carry-on luggage. On her way out, she tried to elicit aid from this huge body builder man in the seat in front of me. His torso barely fit into one of those Gold's Gym T-shirts and his biceps broadcast the fact that he could easily bench press the 727 we were seated in.
"Sir!" she said, using two hands to give his VW-sized shoulder a shake.
"Can you help my daughter with her luggage when the plane lands in Hayden?"
He, obviously smart enough to understand how futile it is to argue with a mother, nodded yes. As soon as my mother disappeared from sight, so did he. He moved to the forward section of the plane and never looked back.
For the next 20 hours I watched this man avoid me. Even my neighbor who was on the flight avoided me. A blinding snowstorm turned the nonstop, two-hour flight from Chicago to Hayden into a travel extravaganza. The plane spent much of that time circling Hayden, refueling in Denver, and circling Hayden. I spent all of my time walking behind my son as he toddled up and down the aisle. All of the expensive things I brought (some educational, some not) didn't engage him. He preferred to pass the time pushing the call button for the flight attendant, unlatching and latching the tray table 8,342 times, and opening and closing the window shade 8,343 times.
Finally, snowy Mother Nature dictated we spend the night at a hotel in Denver. After collecting all of my luggage, I decided, just for grins, to weigh it.
A new record for the Nervous New Mother Goober Book of Records.