Monday, January 14, 2008

Travel Woes or Learning Some Hard Lessons


Lost Luggage. There are few phrases more terrifying. (Yeah, okay, I know most medical phrases are worse. But work with me.)

Try adding lost luggage WITHOUT a baggage claim number.

That's been my past 48 hours.

No, not my own luggage. I learned long ago to double-check and then check again that the baggage claim number was in place and, more importantly, that the destination tag was firmly attached to the piece in question. (I also learned not to travel by Greyhound Bus, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)

In a nutshell, here's what happened:

My 20 year-old son was heading to Breckenridge with two of his buddies for a non-refundable ski trip that included everything except getting there from St. Louis. The boys, as boys are wont to do, had assumed that one of them would be able to take a car. Yeah, right. So, two days before the trip, they realized they had no transportation. They got busy and figured out they could go by bus. When I delivered them to the bus depot (which, I hate to say, was grungier than even they'd expected), two of the boys had luggage exceeding the 50 pound weight limit, so we had to pay extra. They got on the bus. 24+ hours, one missed connection, one transfer that failed to materialize, one suitcase misdelivered to Vail, and one $150 taxi ride later they arrived for four days of skiing and hi-jinks (I'm assuming the hi-jinks considering they were with 10 other college friends). Now, it was time for the return trip. They got to the little station for the bus to Denver. It never showed. They waited 5 hours, knowing they'd already missed their original connection in Denver to St. Louis. Several phone calls later, they were in Denver. Waiting in line for the 10:30 p.m. bus. They had their luggage. The driver said he'd take it from there. On the bus they got. 20 hours later they arrived in St. Louis, tired, hungry, and with less than 12 hours before they had to head back to college (barely enough time for laundry and a home-cooked meal!).

But, here was a time-saver--since their luggage had disappeared somewhere between Denver and home, we had much less laundry to attend to! It turned out that in the rush to get on the bus in Denver, no one, not the boys, not the ticket agent, not the driver, had thought to retag the luggage for the return trip.

I still believe it will turn up someday, somewhere. Perhaps even in my lifetime.

And, I guarantee you that not one of these boys will ever again let his luggage go anywhere without being sure it has been properly tagged. I'm also thinking they won't be traveling by bus anytime soon.

And if any of you happen to see a brownish-green duffle bag, a small black suitcase, and a black duffle with blue stripes sitting in a lonely pile somewhere along Interstate 70, give me a holler, okay?

16 comments:

kristen said...

Oh Judy, I'm sorry. I got such a giggle out of this. By bus? Eh gads. Now that is really a rough trip. Did they say if it was worth it?

Good luck finding the luggage, because as we all know, that's what moms do...pick up the pieces, right?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

You've nailed it Kristen--we shuffle behind, picking up the pieces and setting things right.

Once he'd caught his breath and gotten a little sleep, my son said the skiing part was great. He also said he'd only sign up next year if they had their car ride confirmed!

Larramie said...

One of the Rules of the Universe, Judy, is that nothing is ever lost. Of course who finds the luggage is an entirely different matter. *G*

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Good point, Larramie. So, I just need to find whoever's found the luggage! No problem.

Carleen Brice said...

I'll keep my eyes open. :)

debra said...

This is a great story, Judy Some day the luggage will show up. And I know what you mean by the bus.
I can still smell it when my parents put me on a bus to my aunt and uncle's house when I was 14. And the big man with questionable hygienic habits who asked if the seat next to me was taken and the incredible wonderfully kind woman behind him who said it was--by her.

Lisa said...

Oh no! I knew there were glitches on the way there, but I can't believe they had trouble going home too! But I guess in the end, a good time was had by all and hey -- I think that's the kind of stuff you do when you're 20 so you can tell funny stories about it later, right? :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Carleen--Let me know if you see it; so far, the Greyhound folks haven't laid eyes on it!

Debra--I love the woman in the seat behind you--I can only imagine what that must have felt like as a young gilr.

Lisa, Yes, the bus saga continues. Fortunately, they had a blast behtween bus trips!

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Well, at least they're young, and will be able to tell stories about this for years to come, as one of those grand adventures in life.

(But seriously, it might be a good thing the luggage is lost. I know that I am tempted, every few months or so, to just burn my sons' clothes and start over, they're so battered and stinky.)

Sustenance Scout said...

Had to laugh at this and all the comments, Judy! So glad he had a blast at Breck and love the group photo. It gives me a glimpse of what lies ahead with our teenage son...lost luggage and all, I'm sure. K.

April said...

Oh no! that's horrible! My husband travels a lot for his job and he seems to have something like this happen everytime he flies. Once he lost his luggage (got it the next day) once his cell phone (never found it, had to buy a new one). Sometimes it's my fault something goes wrong though because I take it upon myself to pack for him everytime, and it seems like everytime he travels, I forget something different.

Thanks so much for coming by my site! How did you find me? I did enjoy your book very much, and eventually when I have a bit of money to go on a book shopping spree, I intend to some more of yours.

Please come back anytime! Your advice and encouragement is welcome any time!

April said...

Oh, I'm so silly, and I didn't do my research. Is this your first book?

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Melanie, good point about burning it all. So far, no sign of it.

K., yes, teen-age boys are always good for stories (and life lessons, I suppose!)

April, I found you by googling myeslf (I admit, I do it every few weeks). So nice to make the connection. And this is my first book . . . but stay tuned!

Therese said...

The luggage isn't here, either. :)

Experiential education is as effective a teacher as there is.

My oldest had to spend his morning in traffic court for his first speeding violation. I only wish they had made him stay all day--more inconvenience= more impact.

Ah, the joys of parenting...

Daisy said...

I'd laugh, but my daughter left her brand new jacket on a plane in Atlanta. She missed getting it back by minutes. But in other news, I've tagged you! If you're interested, check out Compost Happens for details.

Lynn Boney "Sebastian" said...

After a 4 day horrible experience, lost luggage, stolen wallet, and a week of frustrating dealings with Greyhound, I'm putting out a Call to Action against Greyhound. Please read below for more information:

It's time Greyhound was held accountable, so I'm putting this action together to get everyone who has ever had trouble with Greyhound's bus system to call and complain about their operating procedures, lack of customer service, amount of lost baggage, and anything else you can think of that you, or anyone you may know, want to address with Greyhound Lines, Inc.

Action Dates: June 23 through 27, 2008
Action Time: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Standard Time (so adjust the times for your time zone.)

I believe if you can post this information in your Blog, on Message Boards, on Forums, or email it to your friends. If everyone then calls, sends letters, creates picket lines outside your local Greyhound station, faxes Greyhound and Laidlaw on June 23 through the 27th, perhaps they will understand just how unhappy everyone is with their bus service. Also, please consider finding and taking another bus service. If you know of a bus service, please list it so others can learn about them. I've listed one below, after all the other information.

Unpublished location of Greyhound's Corporate Offices:
Greyhound Lines, Inc.
Criag Lentzsch, CEO
15110 Dallas Pkwy
Dallas, TX 75248-4635
U.S.A.

Do NOT call the listed phone numbers for Greyhound (214-849-8218 is given but only reaches a voice system and it's almost impossible to reach a live person on the 800-231-2222 official Greyhound number.), instead reach a live person by calling any of these unpublished numbers:

Operator with Executive Office: 214-849-8219
Bryan: 214-849-8217
Ursala: 214-849-8215
Safety Dept: 214-849-8214
Claudette: 214-849-8213
Jennell: 214-849-8211

These are the numbers that I was able to reach people, however, you can try to reach other live people by dialing 214-849-82XX (put any number in for the XX)

The Parent Company (the company that owns Greyhound) for Greyhound is:
Laidlaw Inc.
55 Shulman Boulevard, Suite 400
Naperville, IL 60563
U.S.A.
Phone: 630-848-3000
Fax: 630-579-6438

Other Bus Services:
Trailways services some areas, so please see this website to see if they service the areas you are traveling: http://www.trailways.com/schedules.asp

Another great website to find bus services: http://www.apta.com/links/transit_by_mode/bus.cfm