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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of Boston and Baggage

What was I thinking to squeeze a week long conference into my busy schedule? I spent Friday night and Saturday morning frantically packing for my journey. With airlines so persnickety about the amount of luggage you can carry, more thought must go into the packing process.

I chose my medium-sized suitcase because I didn’t want to exceed the fifty pound weight limit. I plopped it on my bathroom scales and it weighed in at 36 pounds. The suitcase was so jammed that my purchases in Boston would have to be limited. And darn the luck, our hotel was attached to a mall. Thinking ahead, my co-worker, Brenda, opted for a large suitcase lightly packed.

This was my first trip to Boston, a city of historical beauty, the freedom trail, brownstones, Fenway Park, and the World Champion Celtics. It is a bonus to enter a city during a historic event. I captured a picture, in my mind and on my cell phone, of the Celtics riding the Ducks in a green and white tickertape parade. I was caught up in the excitement of the enthusiastic crowd.

I might have known things were going way too smoothly. We mailed two boxes of conference materials and checked out of the hotel. Brenda hooked up her laptop to print out our boarding passes. Our flight had been cancelled. Now we would leave three hours later and arrive at Kansas City after 10:00 P.M.

We rolled our luggage up to the ticket counter, and I heaved my bag onto the scales for weigh-in. I breathed a sigh of relief when the red LCD stopped on 44 pounds. Brenda wasn’t so lucky. Her bag was six pounds overweight. “That will be $50.” Brenda opened her suitcase, pulled out a large shopping bag and began cramming items into it. The shopping bag saved her $50 when her lightened suitcase weighed in at 49 pounds.

The lesson learned is that excess baggage comes at a cost. The Alzheimer’s journey requires us to share our load in order to complete the trip. The weight we are willing to carry around on our shoulders is self-monitored, and the cost is not only more than $50; it is immeasurable.
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