Sunday, August 20, 2006


When we were preparing for the trip to Italy, we all packed lightly enough that we wouldn't have to check any luggage. We each had a couple small-ish bags that we carried on the plane with us. It was lovely and eliminated the time spent waiting around for luggage once we landed, and it also eliminated the fear of lost luggage. However, after several days in Italy, we had accumulated a bunch of things--souvenirs and such--that wouldn't fit in the bags we carried on the way over. So we were forced to purchase a bag which we would have to check for the flight home. We didn't want to spend much money on it, as we had plenty of luggage at home, and we only needed this to get us from Point A to Point B. So we found ourselves a fun little suitcase on wheels for $10 from a street merchant near the Florence train station. It looked large and sturdy enough to carry anything we couldn't fit in our original bags.

However, once we got it back to the hotel, we realized the bag was much larger than it appeared on the street and would fit much more than just the souvenirs we'd purchased. So we each put a few other things in there to make our carry-on a little more comfortable. The next morning, when it was time to catch our train to Rome, where we would spend one day and one night before heading to the Rome airport, we quickly discovered that this $10 bag bought on the street was just that: a $10 dollar bag bought on the street. In other words, it was a huge piece of crap.

Amy somehow drew the short straw and had to drag it from the hotel to the Florence train station, and we would take turns with it from there. But before we even got outside the hotel lobby, the wheels on this suitcase completely caved in and the whole thing went lopsided. She "fixed" the wheels and dragged it another few feet, but they caved again. Without the wheels, this thing was insanely heavy and awkward (among other items, my mom had purchased five, yes five, World Cup commemorative soccer balls for my brother, niece, and some neighbors). It took less than three minutes trying to transport this thing before we realized it was going to make the trip to Rome and to the airport totally miserable.

Guess what. We were right!

Fortunately, it was so miserable that it became funny. For starters, we paid extra for a direct train from Florence to Rome, which meant we had assigned seats in an assigned car (as opposed to the rail passes we had which got us on to any other train without assigned seats, but which stopped every few miles and takes much longer). And of course, our seats were in the very last car of the train, and since we got there without any time to spare, we had to get on the train in the front and walk through the 2-inch aisle all the way to our car, as the train pulled out and headed south. This wouldn't be a problem, had we not been dragging the world's heaviest, cheapest, most awkward, and most poorly contructed suitcase. By now, Amy had passed it to me, so I was the one dragging it down the aisle of the train, running over people's feet, waking sleeping babies, bumping into shoulders and elbows. Amy was behind me, to make sure the suitcase wasn't ripping, as by now the wheels were totally useless, and I was really just dragging it. Mom, on the other hand, had no idea what we were dealing with, as she had somehow freed herself of any obligations toward this thing, even though it was mostly her stuff inside it. So she was way ahead of us, a full car ahead, strolling along at a nice pleasant pace, while Amy and I were sweating like pigs in the Italian heat and dragging the worst suitcase ever behind us, stirring hatred among the Italians we ran over in the process. Amy and I both were so angry at this damn thing, we wanted to just chuck it out the window and be done with it. And Mom wasn't our favorite person at the time.

By the time we FINALLY got to our car, and I could drop the suitcase in a cubby near our seats, I was certain Mom had stolen Michelangelo's David and stuffed it inside this bag. It was that heavy. I was actually out of breath and dripping with sweat, and Amy commiserated. After we plopped down for the ride, we decided we had to give the suitcase a name, because it clearly had a most hateful personality. What was an appropriate name for something hideous, not fully functional, life-sucking, anger-inducing, and which just wouldn't go away? George. We named it after the president, as he embodies all the same characteristics of that god-forsaken suitcase.

Later on that train ride, Amy and I walked back several cars to get some coffee and in the process had to pass many of the people George had run over while we tried to get to our seats earlier. The looks of hate and disgust were alarming. Everyone remembered us and our suitcase, and although George wasn't with us at the time, they all pulled their limbs as close to their bodies as possible for fear that we'd find some other way to torture them as we passed. I wanted to personally apologize to everyone there and tell them to blame George, not us.

So for the next day and a half, as we traveled the rest of the way to Rome, from the Rome train station to our hotel, and then the next morning from the hotel back to the train station and then to the airport, we argued about George. Whose turn was it to drag him (strangely, it was never Mom's)? Why the hell was he so heavy? Whose bright idea was it to buy a suitcase from a street vendor anyway? Why was George so intent upon making our last day in Italy pure torture? We talked about George as if he was an actual person. We referred to him by name. We hated George.

George was always funniest when you weren't the one dragging him. For example, when we checked into our hotel in Rome, Amy had George. We took the TINY elevator up to our floor and tried to navigate the winding hallways to find out room. The hotel was like a maze, and our room was deeply hidden. We were single-file, as the halls were too narrow for anything else. Mom was in front, Amy and George were behind her, and I was behind them (whichever of us didn't have George at the time always had to be in back to make sure he didn't split wide open and spill everything). Somehow we got lost trying to find where the hell they put our room, as it wasn't where one would logically assume it to be (room 33 would normally be somewhere between 32 and 34, right? Wrong). We stopped, got our bearings, Amy set George down for a second, and then we saw a sign pointing to our room number, so we walked in that direction. Mom and I got into the room and realized Amy wasn't with us. I went out into the hallway. Nothing. I went to where we were standing when we first figured out where our room would be. Nothing. Somehow Amy and George had both disappeared. Had George finally sprouted arms and kidnapped Amy? It wouldn't have been that unbelievable. So I called, "Amy?" Nothing. Again, "AMY??" Finally, I heard a distant and exasperated, "Where the hell are you guys? Mom? Heather? God damnit. I hate this fucking George." Or something like that. I don't know how, but she had gotten turned around and went in a different direction and ended up on the other end of our floor in the hotel, dragging George the whole way, and she couldn't find us. In the meantime, she kept passing some poor woman who was just trying to do her job and clean the floors, but Amy lugged George back and forth over her floors about three times before she found us again. She says the woman grumbled in Italian and sighed loudly every time George slid over her newly cleaned floor. By now, I was dying. The sound of Amy's totally frustrated, at-the-end-of-her-rope voice off in the distance while she dragged George cracked me up. Maybe I was just tired and slap-happy, but it did me in and I couldn't stop lauging. Amy wasn't so amused.

The next morning, we had to get ourselves and George to the train station again so that we could get to the airport. There is a special train that goes directly from the train station to the airport, and they couldn't have put that bastard further from the main part of the station. It honestly seems like we walked a couple miles to get to it. In the meantime, George was my responsibility and although it was still early and I had just showered, the heat was insane and I was already sweaty and enraged. George was in rare form that morning, and I was openly cursing him as we walked to the train. He kept twisting and flipping over, so I had to contstanly stop and use all my strength to flip him back over. At one point, a British couple was ahead of us and I guess could hear me bitching, so they kept turning around to glare at me. I am not a violent person, but I've never been so close to hitting people. I think I even said something like, "If you're so freaking interested, why don't YOU carry the damn thing, assholes." Nothing induced anger quite like dragging George, and it was a special kind of irrational anger that made you hate everyone around you simply because they didn't have to drag George and you did.

This time, Amy was the one laughing. I let her laugh, since I had laughed at her the night before in the hotel. But Mom knew better than to laugh at any of it, as she hadn't once personally dealt with George. Anytime we bitched about this fact, she reminded us that she had paid for the trip. Frustratingly, she had us there.

Finally, we got to the airport and happily handed George over to the luggage attendants. Part of me was almost hoping he'd get lost or stolen during the trip back to the states. But no such luck. When we landed in Miami and went to the luggage claim, there he was waiting for us. He just wouldn't go away.

When we got home, we each retrieved any belongings we'd stowed in George, but I'm not sure where he is now. Unbelievably, I think my mom might have put him in the closet, though he was totally destroyed by the time we got home and was definitely ready for the dumpster, and even if he wasn't destroyed, there's no way in hell any of us would ever try to take George on another trip.


At August 22, 2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha ha ha! i LOVE this post! v. well written and v. v. v. funny! great job! one editor's note: "Dumpster" should be capitalized as it is a brand name. (ok, that's the critical virgo in me, but it doesn't detract from the overall hilariosity of this blog)! kb

At August 23, 2006 6:32 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Glad you appreciate the humor in George. He's definitely more amusing now that I don't have to drag his fat ass across Italy. And thanks for the editor's note, Miss Never-Begins-Sentences-With-a-Capitalized-Word. So here's MY editor's note: the exclamation point should be inside the parentheses at the end of your comment. But I like your Bridget Jones-style writing here: v. v. v. funny. :)


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