At baggage claim in Istanbul, the men are standing with hands on their hips. They wait shoulder to shoulder, some standing sideways to get one arm slightly closer to the unmoving baggage carousel. They glance at those on the other side, across the carpet advertisements, wondering which direction the bags will rotate. Most women stand back. Since I must wait, I try to appear larger, bending out my elbows and standing wide, like when one comes across a mountain lion. I aim to be daunting in bland anticipation of an alarm and the start of the slow distribution, only to stare at unfamiliar suitcases passing by single file.
A tall boy in a small shirt–chosen to reveal his muscles–picks up each bag to check the name on the claim ticket. It’s as though he’s taking attendance, or hunting for someone else’s suitcase. As though one of the bags could be a prize from the airlines, a gift for being first to lift each stranger’s belongings. He reads the label on a large red hardside, a sleek black case with a ribbon, a very small grey carry-on–flipping items over, upright, sideways, then tossing them back on the conveyor for consideration by the rest of the crowd. His friend tsk-tsks, and this gives the muscle boy some pause. He lets a leopard print softside move by untouched. Then he continues the spontaneous workout, the lifting of the luggage, but with somewhat more tenderness in his disappointment.
How about you? Baggage claim annoyances? Or any secrets, tactics, or tricks? (Other than carrying-on, that is…)