A mix-up at the airport : The Tribune India

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A mix-up at the airport

A mix-up at  the airport


Sonik Bhatia

WAITING for your luggage at the airport carousel is somewhat like standing at the gates of your kid’s school when the classes are over. You strain your eyes and expect your luggage — or kid — to come into view anytime. However, there are occasions when the wait is agonisingly long. In such cases, it is natural to be gripped by anxiety as you wonder whether something has gone wrong.

One such incident happened when I landed in Frankfurt, Germany, for a conference. Since this was my first-ever flight, the entire experience was new for me — right from security checks to getting the boarding pass and ultimately settling in my seat. Eventually, I arrived at the baggage carousel and peered at the slow-moving conveyor belt. One suitcase after another kept popping up and I could not afford to take my eyes off the belt, lest I should miss my luggage. Most of the other passengers, who had experience on their side, spotted their suitcases and quickly lifted them off the carousel. There were butterflies in my stomach. I was not sure whether I could carry out this ‘operation’ with such effortless ease when my turn came.

At long last, I saw a suitcase which looked like mine, but its colour was slightly different. That was the only one left when the belt stopped moving. I had a sinking feeling — my luggage had most probably been misplaced or lost. I went to the help desk and told the staff members about my problem. They accompanied me to the carousel and picked up that suitcase. They found that it belonged to one Stephanie Brown, a British citizen who had also started her journey from New Delhi. It was now obvious to me and the staff that Ms Brown had taken away my luggage by mistake.

The task at hand was to find the woman. I hoped that she would notice the mix-up in time and come back soon to collect her own item. After an hour or so, a staff member came running and told me that the woman had arrived at the counter with my suitcase. Having faced inconvenience due to her fault, I was ready to confront her for being so careless. However, when I met her after completing the formalities, my anger subsided. I was disarmed by her charm and humility. She apologised profusely for the confusion and said she realised her mistake only when she was about to board a taxi. ‘Since your suitcase is of the same brand and also has the same soccer sticker, I thought it was mine. It was only out in the sunlight that I detected the difference,’ she clarified. I reciprocated with a smile and asked: ‘Is soccer your favourite sport too?’ She replied in the affirmative. I said in a lighter vein that had the suitcase belonged to a man instead of a woman, I would have preferred to retain it and try out the clothes inside. At these words, we laughed heartily and parted ways — of course, with our respective luggage.


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