I live in Alaska, and even before my school told us that we would need to leave campus mid-week for Thanksgiving instead of being able to wait until a weekend after finals were over in December, I knew it was going to be an intense trip. In August I booked as direct of a flight schedule as possible in which I would leave Ohio the afternoon before Thanksgiving day, stop only in Seattle, and arrive home late that night, all while not missing any classes. But in October the airline emailed me saying that the first flight had been delayed too far and I needed to pick a new itinerary. The only way for me to fly home throughout the few days before Thanksgiving without staying the night somewhere along the way was to leave early Tuesday morning and stop in Chicago as well. While it wasn’t ideal, I booked that ticket and made arrangements with my history professor to miss her Tuesday class.
When I got up early on Tuesday morning, everything was going fine until I was walking down the stairs in my dorm, bumped one of my suitcases on something, and the zippers fully detached. My clothes fell out and spilled all over the floor at the base of the staircase, and I immediately broke down since I was late to catch my ride and had no idea what I would do. In a moment of pure panic, I called the taxi company, asked them to wait for me, grabbed some bags from the school bookstore, and frantically shoved everything into them. But I couldn’t just take 7 small bags on the plane, so I asked my taxi driver (who wasn’t wearing his mask over his nose) to let me stop by a store in Mt. Vernon to get some sort of luggage. On the trip there, during which he drove really fast on the very hilly road, I started experiencing the worst motion sickness I’d ever had in years and literally threw up into my N95 mask as he pulled into the store parking lot!
I ran in, found the bathroom, and wiped myself down before running around the store trying to find a duffel bag, which I had no luck with, so I got a large suitcase and ran back outside. I was able to shove all but one of my bags of clothes into it and we were back on the road. My taxi driver was unfortunately not very sympathetic to my situation, telling me that I was going to be charged “infinitely more” for these delays (I never actually was) and dropping me off at the wrong section of the airport, but thankfully I made it there safely. When he said that he “didn’t accept tips” in a dead-serious tone, I honestly wasn’t too surprised because he’d already been acting like Ron Swanson’s ideological, but meaner, twin! Oh, Knox County.
At the airport, I checked in, went to the bathroom, and was in line for security when I realized that my boarding pass was gone! I ran back to the check-in area and was thankfully able to have it reprinted and then went through security smoothly. But as I got on the plane, which was a smaller jet since the flight from Columbus to Chicago is fairly short, I noticed that it was at full capacity! I put on my face shield over my mask and hoped for the best as I sat in front of a couple who was discussing how awful it was that their nephew had to wear a mask while playing football. The flight went smoothly for the most part, though there was some turbulence. Thankfully my layover in Chicago and subsequent flight to Seattle went well, but the Seattle airport was incredibly crowded and it was hard to find a place where I could spread out from other people just to drink some water! After another long flight I finally arrived in Juneau, got my COVID test, and went home. It felt amazing to be back, although slightly disheartening knowing I’ll be here until at least the beginning of summer. Afterwards, I did my best to isolate from my family, including wearing a mask in the house, until I received two negative tests. Now it’s time to quarantine and keep up with my Zoom classes from four time zones away!
I guess the lesson learned here is that you shouldn’t buy cheaper suitcases because they are just not worth it, and also avoid traveling in general during COVID. Just don’t do it! Stay safe! I know things are really hard right now, but it will end. Just keep going with the flow and look out for yourself and your loved ones.