Look at Travel from a Different Perspective — A Behind the Scenes Fictional Tale from a Trusty Travel Companion

Bulging Suitcase — Illustration by Betsy Beier, Wanderlust Designer

Every single time I go anywhere I am stuffed to the brim, bursting at the seams. And every time I return home I overhear the same remark, “Why don’t I ever learn?” Yet my travel companion will never change. I have accepted this as a fact. Along with the many inconveniences I pose while traveling and attitudes I face, I have instead adopted the viewpoint of just being grateful and going along for the ride.

When the car service arrives to take us to the airport I am ungraciously wheeled out the front door. Bam. Thud. Crunch. I trudge down the porch steps, each stair bending under duress. I’m hurled into the back of the car with great force as the others in the group are gently given a comfortable spot up front.

Once at the airport, the Uber weaves in and out of illegally stopped cars as airline info and prime curb locations are debated. Inherently we are nowhere near the doorway we need as we have apparently arrived at prime departure time.

The driver lets out a distasteful sigh and hesitates before helping me out of the car. I get this all the time. Disgusting looks as if it’s my own fault. It makes me want to scream, “I am not heavy by choice, dammit!” But it’s futile. People are inherently unkind to big things. It’s a sign of not being in control, excess and gluttony, or at least that’s the misgivings I feel.

The whispers and stares don’t stop there. Once in the terminal we queue up for inevitably the most embarrassing part of the journey, being weighed. The counter clerk is always in shock. In an admonishing tone, we are told that I am way over the limit. I must be emptied out or pay a steep fee. The checkbook is already open and being written before the clerk even has a chance to rattle off the cost.

I’m given a tag and chucked unceremoniously on to the conveyor belt. No sentimental ‘goodbyes’, or kind ‘see you there,’ just abandonment. Despite my travel companion’s faults, she is remarkably trusting of the systems in place and as she sees it, my routine journey ahead. Shockingly, in her two decades of travel, she has yet to experience the loss of a travel mate. My gut tells me no one in their right mind sees the benefit of stealing me because of my sheer size.

My adventure truly begins once I’m through the plastic barrier. I slide down a 30 foot ramp and slam into fellow travelers.

“Ouch!!” shrieks a passenger decked out in pink flowers near me.

“Holy hell?!” barks another outfitted in camo, as he sags under the brunt of my entry.

Our boxcar is already full. Some unlucky souls have fallen to the wayside doomed not to reach their final destination. As our transportation shudders and begins to move, more fall off. I’m always surprised how many don’t even make it to the plane. Perhaps my weight is a blessing in this instance, as it makes it harder for me to move once I’m in place!

At our second stop in the cavernous, cold warehouse, I begin to miss my friend. I envision her sipping a latté, one arm wrapped lovingly around her favorite travel companion as she scrolls endlessly awaiting the first boarding announcement, ready to bolt ahead in line regardless of ticketed zone.

The second location is where all the X-rays and lasers scan us endlessly. They want to ensure none of us are carrying anything hazardous as well as need to see the precious 3 letter code on our tag to transfer us into another smaller boxcar. More grumbles ensue when I’m moved unceremoniously from one conveyor to the next until finally I’m in my appropriate bin on the trolley to my flight.

We don’t have nearly as many boarding zones as my travel companion, but there is a rhyme and reason to who gets on the flight first. It’s always the lucky folks who are taking a connecting flight that get special treatment as they get to be last on and first off the plane.

When the trolley arrives at the aircraft, we are greeted by a different crew of folks. I have to admit, they may have the worst job of all in that they are outside- through snow, rain, sleet, blazing sun and humidity, they move thousands upon thousands of pounds a day. A sight like myself, albeit not appreciated, is tolerated. We occasionally lose one more passenger at this stage, but that is rare, as it’s easy to spot a runaway on the tarmac!

By the time my friend in business class has downed her first glass of wine, I am finally in my spot and we are ready for take off. I think of her again, blanket resting on her lap, entertainment streaming in her ears, and that cherished favorite one nestled next to her. It’s hard not to be jealous, yet because of my size, I know I will never have the privilege to be that close to her.

I’m jolted back to reality as the plane begins to lumber down the tarmac.

“Be careful!” squeals the passenger bedazzled in glossy red next to me.

“Owwwwww,” bemoans the one with the Mickey Mouse decal.

“Sheesh, can you move it?” grumbles that same camouflaged dude.

I notice everyone surrounding me pondering why they got so unlucky this time to be placed next to the fat one.

It’s different for every flight, but on this particular journey, we are in a small enough compartment that not only is the seat belt sign never illuminated, there aren’t any seat belts! As the engines roar and we begin to take off, we slide upon one another crushing the ones in the back. The temperature plummets, and we hear the familiar noise of the wheels joining us in our cramped quarters. We never really know how long our journey will take. We don’t have the courtesy of the captain keeping us apprised of our location or flight duration. We will land when we land.

The noise in our compartment is unbearable at times. There is not much padding between us and the screaming air rushing past the fuselage at 500mph. It keeps conversation with our others in our compartment down to a minimum. Occasionally there is a ruckus, usually when we hit turbulence because once again, no one can stay in their place, otherwise things are calm.

I’m awoken by the change in noise from the engines. We are on our descent. I’m excited for my reunion with my travel companion. I’m hoping she is as excited to see me as I am her, but alas, I doubt this will be true. Although she is the one that made me who I am, and packed me with all these pounds, she complains when she has to bring me anywhere. The upside to her predictable behavior is that since I’m the largest of her travel companions and can hold the most things I’m always on her trips. I’ll take the occasional comment or glances as I know the true adventure awaits me once at the hotel. I bet you have know idea what happens there when you leave me alone during the day while you explore the location. Well, that’s another story to be told at a later time!

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