Monday, November 03, 2014

R.I.P. Big Red

A facsimile of "Big Red"
Back in the day, when I was a Rock Star for the Postal Service (well, at least in my own mind), I was on the road a lot; very familiar with airports and baggage carousels. 

I remember one fateful trip, waiting for my suitcase to come sliding down the chute at Reagan National in DC, when I see a crumpled, broken suitcase take the carousel turn, and I wonder who the unlucky chump was that had his tiger-print underwear on display for the whole world.

Turns out it was me.

Gathering up what I could, I carried my bag to the nearest accessories kiosk, purchased a bungee cord, and wrapped the thing up as well as I could for the trip to my hotel. The next afternoon, as soon as I left work, it was off to find some kind of mall or department store that sold luggage. Thank goodness DC has a good mass transportation system. My travel stipend in no way included a rental car or any extra cab fare.

To make a long story well, even longer, I found one that set me back less than $100, which was still a lot of money in those days. And now, having witnessed the - literally - thousands of unassuming black suitcases that all looked like they were trying to be the twin of every other black suitcase in the cargo hold, I wanted to get something different. Something that would, at the very least, stand out a little bit as it traveled the carousels and quietly proclaimed it was NOT like those other run-of-the-mill black suitcases. That was when I bought "Big Red."

It was the largest piece of luggage I had ever owned. And it was, I think, the first piece of luggage I ever purchased with wheels. What an idea *that* was. I don't know who it was, but someone once quipped, "How is it we put a man on the moon before we figured out that putting wheels on luggage was a good idea?"

Big Red, folks, has seen a lot. It's been to Alaska three times, Chicago twice, Nova Scotia, Ireland, California, Oklahoma, all over Florida and, of course, Washington DC. He's been in cars, on cruise ships, on trains, and on more airplanes and jets than I can count. And at nearly every stop, when Big Red and I were reunited after having traveled separately, he would return to me with a shiny new piece of adhesive: a big red or bright blue tag warning, "HEAVY."

There was, you see, a reason I call him "Big Red."

Well, tonight, as my father and I are once more sojourning forth on the road from Michigan to Florida (where he has purchased some "snowbird" property and we are moving him in), Big Red's zipper failed him. Can't get it open at one end anymore. The teeth have separated and the zipper itself has pulled away from the rest of the luggage. I can get at my stuff, but only like you'd clean out a pumpkin: from the top, reaching in and pulling out all the inside bits.

So tomorrow, when we arrive at my Dad's new place, Big Red will be emptied one final time, and I will say some grateful words while giving him an appreciative pat, and I will leave him at the curb with the rest of the trash.

Acquired: Washington DC, mid-1990s.
Passed Away: Bowling Green, Kentucky, 2014.
Buried: Somewhere in Zephyrhills, Florida **


Mark's Musings is published on an occasional basis but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. ** Unless, of course, some scavenger who drives around on trash pickup days trolling for things that may still have some shelf life (or could, with a little TLC) finds Big Red first.

No comments: