The Pickpocket in Seat 9B

by on November 12th, 2014
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I recently took a trip with my parents during which my sixty-three year old father was asked to gate-check a bag. I travel weekly and never check luggage due to myriad tales of missing valuables, or worse, medications. But my dad had to oblige due to aircraft space constraints.

Upon arrival, my parents rushed to an appointment while I waited at the baggage carousel (is it called that to trick us into thinking we’re having fun?) for my father’s suitcase. I saw his beige bag come down the belt, easily identified by a laminated tag featuring my old high school cheerleading headshot.

To my surprise, a young girl already toting a small carry-on walked confidently to the belt and (with some exertion) lifted my father’s bag, glanced at the photo, and strolled away with it.

Then it occurred to me, She thinks that bag belongs to a seventeen or eighteen year-old cheerleader. I wasn’t sure how to approach her since I didn’t have my dad’s luggage stub, so I decided to follow her and wait until she peeked inside the bag to find that it wasn’t chuck full of Abercrombie and Uggs.

She clumsily wheeled my father’s suitcase with her left hand and her carry-on with her right into the restroom. I ducked into the stall next to her.

From beneath the partition, I saw her unzip my dad’s bag, which to her surprise was filled not with the spoils of suburban teenage girlhood, but Joseph A. Bank boxers, extra-wide Tommy Bahama jeans, and two weeks’ worth of grey and checkered dress socks.

I watched her dainty pink-polished hands darting through the bag for something worthwhile. She rifled through my dad’s toiletry case, took his Crest Whitestrips and some unisex moisturizer, then abandoned the suitcase and some $800 worth of clothes and shoes on the floor of the ladies’ bathroom. If you’re going to steal something, at least be sure it’s useful to you!

No one from the airline or airport questioned her, asking to see a baggage claim ticket. Something should be done. I can’t imagine a worse way to arrive in your destination city than without clothes and shoes, and then not even be able to whiten your teeth.


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