On Being a Travel Loser
You go on vacation to let go, but you probably meant to let go of your stress, not your iPod, your camera, your passport...or your false teeth.
British company Airport Parking and Hotels Ltd (APH) joins the group of travel companies that occasionally release a list of the amusing things they've found that their clients have lost, presumably in a hotel, a car, or an airport lounge. Clothing tops the list, accounting for almost half of the items in their lost n' found, and there are a fair number of gadgets as well: 17% of APH's total lost items were mobile phones, games consoles, mp3 players and cameras. APH says that "luckily only" 4% of travelers lost their passport, but honestly, given the hassle of losing a passport, that number seems pretty high to me.
Then there's the unusual items: the aforementioned false teeth, a ski boot that contained a tube of hemorrhoid cream, "odd shoes", which I presume means a single shoe rather than shoes of a strange style. I may have a suspicious nature, but some of the objects they've found simply scream "criminal activity" to me: an electric scale, for instance, what legitimate purpose might that have? And then there's an assortment of crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs, which totally seems like evidence of insurance fraud. I don't even want to speculate on why someone would leave a pram behind.
Okay, I'm sure most people who have left their baby carriage behind by accident aren't criminals. They're simply addled by travel, and I'm the very last person to cast aspersions on that condition: I've never lost my passport (knock wood) but I've lost almost everything else that's possible to lose or leave behind while traveling. Like, there was the time in Paris when I loaded up my backpack with my laptop, my camera, my tape recorder -- all the tools of my professional trade. I zipped the bag up, looked at it, thought "wow that's going to be heavy." By the time I put my coat on, I'd totally forgotten its existence and walked out of the room, and the hotel, without it. It wasn't until I was checking in for my flight home at Charles de Gaulle that I realized what I'd done. A frantic call to the quick-thinking concierge at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand got my knapsack an (expensive) chauffeured ride out to the airport, riding all by itself in the back seat -- and I just barely made my flight.
Since then, while traveling, I tend to treat myself as someone with mild brain damage. (Probably accurate given disorientation, fatigue, dehydration.) I've set up routines and obsessive fail-safes -- religious room checks, for instance, checking the seat back three times, never leaving the secure area of the airport without doing a critical items check (wallet, BlackBerry, iPod, Kindle?).
Still I'm not perfect: just this very morning I signed for a Fed Ex envelope containing my laptop power cord -- which I'd left plugged into the outlet at Montreal's Hotel le St. James on Sunday.