Sep 14, 2007

In the last 18 months, I've had four models of this French four-wheeled hardcase:

1. Crowbarred to death between Cape Town and London (never mind that it wasn't locked. And that my belongings sucked too much to steal). Replaced.

2. Speared by a forklift between Honduras and Miami. Replaced.

3. Cracked between Bogota and Seattle. Replaced.

4. Fractured again between Seattle and New York. Wheel sheared in half between Milan and Rome. Soldered.

5. The Frankenstein patch disintegrates on its first flight.

Then TSA at Phoenix Skyharbor – truly a hub that earns that dippy name – locks my unlocked suitcase. Of course, I have no key. And wet clothing inside.

I indulge in some bad language, including the South Park classic: you b@stards! And some hollow, jet-lagged laughter. After a few minutes, my father shuts the bathos down. He strides into the garage and returns with a wedge, hammer and crowbar.

"Kid, it's over."

"But the airline..."

His shoulders square, his eyes narrow. "How much of your life are you going to waste filling in compensation forms?"

The spirit is infectious. "Do it," I reply.

Like the old gringo, the Delsey came to the desert to die.


A few days later, dad and I drive to Fashion Square, where I wield my plastic with the flair of a Scottsdale trophy wife. "Give me a Rimowa Salsa."

The salesman wrangles his eyebrows under control. Yes, dude, I know. My credit line is far more elegant than my appearance. Deal.

The bill is a Thai meal short of my rent. This seems horribly decadent, except I live out of a suitcase two to four months a year. Plus, my wonderful, wonderful parents split the expense, probably so I'd shut up about my tragic luggage mojo already.

Germans engineered my new darling from pure polycarbonate. It spins like a standing bass in the hands of a master Roma street musician. Though flexy, it can withstand buckshot. Erm, just in case someone unloads both barrels ... which seems entirely possible, given my track record.

And so, Salsa, the dance begins.

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