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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

The woes of travel

BY Sonny Orr Jul 20, 2022

Travelling is back and so are the things that go with it, big time – late flights, lost baggage, slow traffic and expensive gasoline. All those headaches that hinder our mobility to move painlessly from one part of the country to another. Did I forget to mention there are no vacant rooms to stay in? It’s all those travel nightmares I forgot existed during the last two years of going nowhere.

I checked in for my flight to leave my hometown and, wonders of wonders, a slight delay caused me to wonder if I should leave or not. But I left anyways, in an effort to get to an important meeting 2,000 kilometres away. 

Thankfully, our carrier has its own terminal to disembark while the rest of Trudeau airport faces a virtual lockdown because luggage is unable to be handled in a vast worldwide system that worked almost perfectly a few months ago. Not being a worldly traveller, I didn’t know until later that day after driving on a rainy road eastward that I could have lost my dear suitcase if I had gone to Istanbul. Thankfully, I retained all my spare underwear. So, I and the other thankful passengers went on our merry ways.

After driving for three hours, I arrived late as usual at my destination and went to sleep immediately, only to have the alarm wake me several minutes later – at least it seemed that way. A fitful five-hour sleep and back to work, meeting and carrying out corporate affairs. I try not to blink as my eyes can’t open long enough to make my state of consciousness aware of tiny details, but somehow my brain fumbled through the fog of fatigue. 

The meeting went well and quickly and soon I was back on the road to a nice hotel where I could get some shuteye. At least I thought I could. Missing my family and wishing I was already on a flight heading home, I plunked my weary head on soft hotel pillows, only to be jabbed awake by hunger pangs demanding nourishment.

As I write this column, I wonder if others have the same problems. Stories from taxi drivers, bellhops and others in the business of keeping people moving and sheltered helped me understand how widespread this baggage problem is. Tales of people stranded without their belongings circulate like dramas on social media – some angry, some lost, some just fed up with not being able to change their clothes or brush their teeth. 

Thanking my lucky stars that I haven’t been hit with anything unhealthy or even bitten by any stray dogs with rabies, I cocooned in my air-conditioned room wishing that the morning would come sooner, so I could finally head home. Home where there aren’t problems with lost baggage, only lost socks in the laundry. Home where I have a large garbage bag full of socks that don’t match.

Aside from having to deal with the theoretic possibility of losing stuff, I thought I actually had lost a credit card, which put my muddled mind in a real stage of panic. Luckily, due to my fatigue before leaving home, I discovered that I left it on my desk. Now that my furrowed brow could straighten out before the onset of forehead cramps, I slept without worry for at least a few hours before heading back to the airport, Hopefully, my baggage will make it home with me, and I promise to no longer fret over losing three pairs of socks.

So, to all the harried travellers who must fly, please put trackers on your baggage or you might never see it again. Unless you track it down in Istanbul.

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.