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Dwelling out of suitcase straightforward for the suitcase

When the telephone rang, Karen Dugan, of Glastonbury, was well mannered, however she couldn’t speak lengthy. For days, she’d been monitoring her baggage, misplaced within the notorious Southwest Airways meltdown that may price the corporate practically $1 billion (although it could possibly be extra).

On this chilly and crisp morning, Dugan’s Apple AirTag — small Bluetooth trackers — advised her that she and husband John’s two massive suitcases and a duffle bag have been simply blocks away. Karen Dugan had her telephone prepared. She needed to take a photograph to seize The Second. In actual fact, her readers on social media demanded it.

The duffle bag was the most important concern. Its tag wasn’t as express because it may have been and it contained John’s new trainers, purchased whereas they visited household out west, the place they’d contracted COVID, rallied, hiked, and have been properly sufficient to assemble for a Christmas meal. Minus the COVID, it was a beautiful journey, and on Dec. 26 once they left for the airport — baggage in hand — all was properly.

The primary leg of their journey was straightforward, again when most of us nonetheless believed in air journey. After which the couple arrived at Chicago Halfway Worldwide. Southwest was within the strategy of canceling 70 p.c of its flights that day, and issues simply received worse. One other passenger who was additionally heading to Connecticut observed Karen Dugan’s UConn sweatshirt, and referred to as out that the flight to Bradley had been canceled.

They walked up the jetway into chaos with crying infants and households settling into their residence — airport lounges — for the subsequent few days. Karen Dugan noticed a patchwork of humanity who shared one purpose, getting out of Halfway as rapidly as potential.

However the portal was shrinking.

Dugan mentioned that if Southwest was imploding, the folks behind the counters — the place computer systems had give up — have been stellar. A ticket agent received the couple on the final two seats on a aircraft to LaGuardia Airport, not fairly residence however shut sufficient for Uber. They have been advised to not count on their baggage to journey with them, however once they arrived in New York, Karen Dugan instinctively began towards baggage declare earlier than she thought higher of it.

The experience residence was uneventful, and since they’d been advised to count on their baggage in a number of days, they settled in to depend their blessings (they have been residence) and watch on tv different vacationers’ plight.

The Dugans assumed the luggage can be loaded onto the subsequent aircraft — or perhaps the aircraft after that — however AirTag started charting a far totally different course. From Halfway, the bags returned to Phoenix. A couple of occasions, from the map on the app, it seemed as if the bags was sitting in a car parking zone, or on the tarmac, or close to a big warehouse. Possibly the luggage have been reluctant to finish their trip?

Karen Dugan turned fascinated together with her suitcases’ journey as they launched into a sort of Grand Tour of the Nice West. She started posting on Fb the photographs from her AirTag, and other people received hooked on the saga.

“Not less than your baggage is having an journey,” wrote one good friend. As in the future bled into one other, different buddies joined her in speculating. Was the bags OK? Was anybody bullying the suitcases? One good friend steered her updates be revealed in paperback, or as a film, however nobody may agree on a title.

In the meantime, the luggage methodically made their means by way of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, after which on to Joplin, Mo., my outdated stomping grounds, however from the map, the luggage weren’t, in reality, on the area’s airport. They have been a great few miles southwest of there, most certainly on I-44 on a truck that appeared to make frequent stops. Ping in Wadsworth, Ohio. Ping in little Nescopeck, Penn.

After which, final Tuesday, Karen Dugan posted on Fb an AirTag picture that confirmed the luggage inside a mile of her home. The world waited. A full hour later, a pleasant supply man posed for a photograph after he set the luggage by her door (he mentioned Karen Dugan may take his picture however let’s give the person his privateness; he has no concept the story wherein he performs an element).

Karen Dugan frightened that their soiled clothes is perhaps ripe when she lastly opened the bags, so she put that off so long as potential, however a subsequent Fb video confirmed her tossing clothes right into a laundry basket.

“Now in case you’ll excuse me,” she wrote, “I’ve some laundry to do.”

It was, because it ended properly, a enjoyable journey. One neighbor mentioned she regretted not organizing a welcome-home band for the suitcases’ arrival.

That’s comprehensible. Coming to the top of a fantastic story is tough. One good friend wrote that when the bags arrived, he’d felt the identical sense of loss when the long-running tv present “M*A*S*H*” ended. One steered the Dugans tote their baggage round Glastonbury for a number of days after which publish it so their supporters may ease into the top of the story. They most likely received’t, but it surely’s a good concept.

Susan Campbell is the writer of “Frog Hole: Tales From an American Neighborhood,” “Tempest Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker,” and “Relationship Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Woman.”  Discover extra at



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