The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

I Pick Things Up And Put Them Down

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.

–Istanbul, Turkey


How about you? Baggage claim annoyances? Or any secrets, tactics, or tricks? (Other than carrying-on, that is…)

15 comments on “I Pick Things Up And Put Them Down

  1. turkischland
    July 23, 2012

    Reblogged this on turkischland and commented:
    i love istanbul welkom my homelands biggest city of mega istanbul

  2. Bob Othman
    July 23, 2012

    Baggage claims were never an enjoyable experience, not for me anyway. Always, there will be something to spoil the fun, without fail.

  3. The Smile Scavenger
    July 25, 2012

    I put a bright ribbon on my bag so I know it’s mine.

    • Hmm. Do you have a color of choice?
      I have a slightly purple suitcase. It resembles those uniform black roller bags, but it’s just a bit off. And dirty from assorted sidewalk salt. Surprisingly, no one else wants to claim it!

      • The Smile Scavenger
        July 25, 2012

        Color of choice – the most obnoxious, bright, hard-to-miss color I can find (like lime green or neon orange). That way I see it the second it comes out. 😀

  4. tchistorygal
    July 25, 2012

    Lots of good luggage ideas here. I hate waiting for luggage claim. I usually try to carry it on. that way I know where it is. Love to travel in spite of luggage. Thanks for visiting my site. I’ll be back here.

    • I would love to carry-on, but I can never seem to winnow down the liquids! Plus, I get a feeling of panic when I need to put something in the overhead compartment. Competing for space with the other passengers…maybe then I become just as bad as the ones crowding the carousel… 🙂 Nice to meet you!

  5. Ash
    July 26, 2012

    I also tie brightly colored or patterned ribbon on my suitcases. I also always check the airlines guidelines on baggage limits etc. before I fly. Remember when baggage limits weren’t as strict and the charges didn’t cost as much as the plane ticket itself? *sigh*

    • Yeah, the good ol’ days when a checked bag wasn’t a terrifying wait on the baggage scale. Once I hit spot on 20 kilos–exactly the permitted weight–and I broke out in applause!

      How do you kill time at baggage claim? I bet you write something, Ash…

      • Ash
        July 26, 2012

        I am usually too excited about where I am going, or too sad about what I am leaving to really notice the time 🙂 But a good book has been known to do the trick!

  6. Caddo Veil
    August 15, 2012

    I especially love the title of this post–thinking it might work into a great poem; if so, I’ll mention you/your blog–deal?

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 15, 2012

      Sure thing! However, the line is from a commercial for a gym. 🙂 Do let me know if you write the poem, though, I would love to read it.

  7. fgassette
    August 19, 2012

    WELCOME! Thank you for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and enjoy the photos I take concerning life and events as seen through the lens of my camera.


    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      August 20, 2012

      Of course! Thanks for stopping in. I admire photographers always. I can only do slightly out of focus snapshots, so that’s why I try to write the rest. 🙂

  8. kkollwitz
    August 26, 2012

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