Friday, April 06, 2007

Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels

For many months I've thought "wow, we have a lot of crap that we should really weed out in case we ever have to move." I've longed for the simpler days of college and Japan just after that when I just didn't have much stuff. When I moved back to the States from Japan, I shipped about 15 boxes on the slow boat to Seattle (my sister has a friend there that was willing to accept them, and it looked like I might wind up in the Northwest, so I said a prayer that I was right and sent them on their way), and then I just had my Meow Face, a big backpack and my Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels to handle. That was pretty much all I owned (well, that and a piano still in my sister's living room - another story for another day, but I'll just say she's good to me that way, and I am grateful).

But back to this Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels. This thing has been wrong from the start. I bought it to bring to Japan because it could clearly hold a lot, close to all I owned in those leaner days. The wheels are deceiving because there is no comfortable way to actually hold the handle (just a strap thing, not the expandable/collapsable kind) and pull it along unless you slouch way down, and that's not comfortable, either. I expected that when I was met at the local train station by my new boss that he'd be this 25-35 year old guy that was fairly strong and could help me manage this silly bag. Turns out my boss was a woman who was barely 5' tall (if that) on her tallest day and couldn't have weighed more than about 90 pounds. She had to call for reinforcement. Great first impression - "hi, nice to meet you" (in very poorly pronounced Japanese) - "I'm the foreigner who insisted on bringing more than I could possibly carry because this bag looked like the perfect thing since it had wheels, and now I have to call upon you to help me before I've even met you" (in clear English, but in my mind only).

The Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels struck yet one more time. After being in Japan for 3 years, I'd forgotten what a pain in the ass this bag was, so when it was time to move back "home" to the States, I stuffed that bitch to the gills to save on shipping. Oh, it held plenty. You could probably house a small child in it if you set your mind to it, but that's never been the problem. It's what you do with the thing once you've done that. So by this time, I'm pretty savvy about the whole having your luggage transported to the airport in advance by takyuubin so that you don't have to take it up and down endless flights of stairs at each train station transfer on the way to the airport. The greatest service in the world and worth every yenny. They are awesome. Unless you have a Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels. I was confident enough in my Japanese at that point that I called and made the arrangements, and the man even showed up. He walked into my apartment, took one look at the bag, tried lifting the end with the handle, set it back down and started mumbling polite but vague apologies and left. Without the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels. My flight "home" was leaving the next day, and I knew that it would be physically impossible for me to take it to the airport (especially along with my kitty and other huge backpack). Finally, with no real choice, I called my boss (new location, new boss-this one was a guy), and after about 15 minutes of arguing (while the cat he didn't know I had wandered between his legs), he convinced the takyuubin folks to come back if he promised to help them carry it down my 4 flights of stairs. When I greeted the bag at the airport after traveling about 4+ hours to get there, the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels was way overweight to fly, but after some wrangling and dividing some into another box, they waived the fee since I was already paying a bunch more to bring my kitty.

By the time that flight out of Tokyo was delayed and I arrived at LAX, my kitty and I had been traveling for well over 20 hours since leaving my apartment, and we still had that last connecting flight to "home." Of course, I'd had to reclaim the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels to go through customs, so I was carting it around to connect to the next flight - a flight which it turns out had been canceled. So I'm directed to a different airline to start the fun all over again about how big and heavy the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels is (even though it was not nearly as big as it had originally been since putting some of it into that other box) and how much more they want me to pay. If the flight hadn't canceled, it would have been no big deal and no discussion of additional charges, but the new airline wanted something like another $200. So I handed them the paperwork from when I paid the fee to bring my catty and insisted that the amount (in yen) and the other information (written in Japanese) clearly explained that I'd already paid (though I hadn't since it had been waived), and without someone there to translate it, I was on my way with my cat, my Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels, my backpack and that smaller box of overflow from the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels and no additional charge. About 5 hours later (and well over 25 hours after leaving my apartment), we were finally "home."

To this day, I have that Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels. It moves with me every time I relocate, but it's been pared down to carryable/wheelable if you slouch. Now there's just a bunch of crap in it to weed out and sort through so that I can get rid of the damn thing once and for all with this move. What's in there has haunted me when I've thought about having to weed it out because I know it's full of tough decisions (cute gifts from my students, ashtrays from various izakaya, lots of folding fans, a random belt to a dress I no longer own-that one is easy, and not sure what else), but this weekend will be the one when I finally put it to rest.

Still, moving was simpler when the Goddamn Big Ass Duffel Bag on Wheels and a few boxes were all I had.

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