Several years ago, as I struggled to identify my suitcase in a smörgåsbord of containers lazily squeaking by on the airport carousel, I thought of the term "luggage amnesia" as a succinct way to identify my plight.

Here are some rules of nature that magically get enforced as soon as one exits immigration and begins the slightly urgent canter to the luggage retrievals area:

  • Don't ever expect to be first at the carousel. Someone will always beat you. Take your time; there's no point pulling a hamstring after a 12-hour flight.
  • Every bag will look like yours.
  • Having gone to great lengths to add unique identifiers to your suitcase (like coloured ribbons or vintage stickers), you will still be unsure when the bag goes past you the first time.
  • You will identify your bag as soon as it has sailed by an inconvenient distance away, and will need to break social protocols and forcefully move other passengers to retrieve it (although in our post-Coronaviral world, I am curious to watch the awkwardness ensue as we try to use the air around another passenger to Force-push them out of the way sine tactu/contactu).
  • There will always be at least one plain metal or cardboard box with a large sign identifying the passenger and a correspondence address. This will never be yours, but you will have a moment of doubt.
  • If you try to read the baggage tag, you will need to roll the tag and crane your neck at 135° to see if it is indeed your name on it. "Why is the name never at the top of the tag so I can look at it easily?", you will mutter to yourself.
    • During this episode, the carousel will explicably speed up. You will need to try and keep up with it. You will shuffle sideways with the carousel for several feet, and will hit your shins on several trolleys in the process.
    • You will both hear, and generate, expletives.
  • If you decide on a tactical visit to the loo to avoid the first wave of passengers, the second wave will arrive just as you return from your restorative adventure.
  • The luggage trolley at your destination is always a little too small to carry all your bags. Why are trolleys in foreign destinations always smaller than the ones at home?

Take heart, friends. It happens to all of us, regardless of how much we try to prepare. Just surrender to it, and keep a pair of shin pads handy.