As I was going through the exit stile at the Berkley BART subway station a couple of weeks ago, the gate closed prematurely behind me on the heavy suitcase I was towing. I had borrowed it for my trip from my daughter Maddy. She had bought it in Spain with her own money, loved it and asked me to take care of it.
After you insert your ticket in it, the nasty rubber scissor-armed stile opens and closes briefly allowing one lucky passenger through at a time. As I scurried through, my suitcase got mechanically wedged behind me. I pulled hard, but the anti-'jaws of life' would not let go and the next thing I knew the extend-a-handle thingy on my suitcase bent out of shape. By the time I managed to rescued it from BART's clutches and drag it outside the whole handle apparatus came off in my hands.
There I was, pretty much stranded with this heavy 'handle-less' suitcase, now deciding to walk the shortest distance in any direction to find any hotel in the vicinity. Did I say it was really hot? Usually this is an attractive aspect of California in winter for a vacationing Canadian – but not today.
It's surprisingly difficult to pull a heavy suitcase with no handle along on tiny wheels through a crowded city ( it didn't even have a finger-hole to grip onto) I looked ridiculous. I stumbled along , rested every few steps before I dragged it along again. I'm guessing I looked more homeless than any bag-laden-shopping-cart street person.
I got to a nearby Travel Lodge, checked into a room and collapsed. I knew I owed Maddy a brand new suitcase; a better one than this trouble maker. Maybe the BART owes her the suitcase, I don't know, but I think this involves a lot of hassle to find out.
I was not looking forward to trying to lug this now handle-less piece of baggage around any more, especially to the airport on my return. Since there was absolutely no griphold on the end of the suitcase, I decided to drill a hole though the heavy plastic casing and jury-rig a coat hanger wire thing in order to attach my belt so that I could drag it behind me on its wheels again. Though the repair looked pretty nasty and makeshift it worked well enough until early Monday morning when the airport shuttle guy grabbed to lift it into the back of the bus and snapped the belt and sent the buckle whizzing into the air.
The driver looked very apologetic. He quickly recovered the buckle from under the bus and handed it to me. I said " Thanks, but I don't think I'll need that anymore".
I felt bad for him and gave him a big tip.