Writing left handed

Of Grandparents and Suitcases

The good thing about being an adjunct is that trekking across campus gives you the perfect excuse to purchase a trendy new laptop case (red leather, complete with wheels, a handle and multiple “textbook” compartments).  The bad thing is that since I don’t have an office, I don’t have anywhere to keep (or change into) an extra pair of pantyhose.

Upon returning home from tonight’s lecture, I discovered that I had a huge double run in my stockings.

So much for my Jomar’s powersuit.

I wonder if I can cram a spare pair of tights into my new laptop suitcase?

Speaking of suitcases, I had the sad duty privilege of escorting my grandparents to the airport yesterday.  My parents had departed for Miami the day before, so it was just me and los abuelos.


Even though their suitcases were already packed, their toiletries already stowed and their “important” documents already protected in a clear plastic envelope (we love clear plastic envelopes these days), my grandfather cornered me after I returned from dropping my parents at the airport to “go over a few things.”

There was nothing—absolutely nothing—to go over.  My mother had taken care of everything before she and my dad left, right on down to the clothes that my grandmother was supposed to wear on the plane.

But was that good enough for my grandfather?  Oh no…

To give you an idea, we went to Puerto Rico a few years back so he could take us around show us where he was born.  It was just my brother, my grandfather and me, all with matching pajamas, as is now customary in the Richter household.  My mom planned the whole thing as a surprise for Christmas and booked us a hotel near the beach with an afternoon flight coming back from San Juan specifically so we could spend our last morning in the sand.

My grandfather, however, had other ideas.  He decided we should do a “dry run” to the airport just in case so we took our dry run around 9:00am and arrived less than an hour later.  Despite the success of our venture, it was decided that we would remain at the airport rather than risk a return to the beach.  I was beyond livid.

That said, I knew full well that my grandfather would want to “go over a few things” before departing for Miami but what can say?  I’ve never really gotten over the fact that I was robbed of my morning at the beach.  (He also told the bartender at the Bacardi tour that my brother was too young to drink.  Who does that???)

I decided to let him stew for a while then headed downstairs for the security briefing.

Of course first he had to show me how he had “modified” his suitcase to hold his cane.  Then he had to show me his clothes for the flight, unfolding each piece like we were on an episode of Project Runway except with way less flair and way more plaid.

Then we got down to business:

  • The medications (both those to be taken to Miami and those to be left behind)
  • My grandmother’s clothes
  • The hundred dollars hidden on the inside of his belt (in case of encountering any “real problems” in Miami)
  • The keys to his car (in case I needed to move it while he was gone)
  • The keys to the safe (in case I needed to access whatever it is that’s stored in the safe)
  • The keys to his “document” file (in case the IRS came knocking to inquire about the financial history of a man living on a UPS pension— over the weekend I might add)

He went so far as to open every compartment of my grandmother’s pill case to show me that they were full, except of course for the days of the week that had already passed…

Then he showed me how to take apart his cane for inspection in case the security folks suspected him of being a terrorist.

When it finally came time to leave, my grandmother started complaining that he pants were too tight (anything more form-fitting than a Snuggie is “too tight” in her opinion) and my grandfather nearly tripped over his own cane (which was being held onto the outside of his suitcase by a series of elastic hair bands).

My mother had ordered an escort to get them through security and to their gate.  She had all of the confirmation numbers typed up and printed out for me but unfortunately I wasn’t made privy to the fact that in order to qualify for an escort, one must be—or claim to be— wheelchair bound.  My grandfather is practically wheelchair bound (as in bound to end up in a wheelchair if he keeps strapping his cane to his suitcase rather than using it like a proper octogenarian) but when asked if he needed a wheelchair, I answered honestly.

“No, he doesn’t need a wheelchair.”

“Then you can’t have an escort,” the US Airways lady replied.  “But they can give you a gate pass instead.  This way you can go with them.  That will probably be better anyway.”

“Okay,” I shrugged.  “Where do I go for that?”

Better, I soon discovered, is a relative term.

Escorting my grandparents through US Airways security was better, perhaps, than being mauled to death by a pack of rabid pugs but spending three hours at the airport wasn’t exactly at the top of my list of preferred leisure activities.

And it wasn’t just dealing with my grandparents—it was dealing with US Airways and TSA and those damn Ziploc bags.

“Shoot me if I ever get too old to travel on my own,” I texted The Wedding Date.  “I mean it.  Seriously.  SHOOT ME.”

9 Responses to “Of Grandparents and Suitcases”

  1. sarahnsh

    I surprisingly have never traveled with a grandparent, but I do know how they check and double check things even though you have everything covered and secured. They cant quite fully trust you to take care of things completely. I can imagine taking your grandfather to the gate was awful, and those plastic ziplock bags are pretty ridiculous too! I hope everything else went smoother but it is airport travel so it’s almost guaranteed not to.

    • Kat Richter

      Yeah… I’ve developed a new conspiracy theory in which I’m convinced that Ziploc folks are in bed with the TSA folks just to boost sales by making our lives miserable. I pride myself on my George Clooney-esque airport navigation skills and was completely horrified when I realized my grandparents were the LAST folks boarding the plane! I don’t know what I would have done if they’d missed the flight… as it is, I didn’t even get to give my grandmother a hug goodbye because the security folks were trying to hurry everyone along.

  2. Jerseyite Lurker

    If your college has any kind of adjunct lounge or shared office that’s kept locked, there’s probably some little nook or cranny where you can stash a little bag with things like spare panty hose, even if they haven’t officially encouraged such storage. Did your college teaching debut go smoothly that night?

    So…what’s the occasion down in Miami? Any reports of “real problems” encountered down there yet?

    • Kat Richter

      Well, I’ve received a few text messages from my dad with photos of everyone on the cruise ship so evidently they arrived unscathed! There’s an adjunct “workspace” but anyone can go in. I think I’ll just put together a bag of necessities to keep in the care. Or wear pants from now on…
      But as for the class itself, YES! It went really well 🙂

      • Jerseyite Lurker

        Good to hear. So the four of them are taking a cruise? It will be interesting to see if Abuelo tries to find a way to return from *this* trip early! (Lifeboat?)

  3. julie

    I miss my grandparents every single day. Though it would have been agonizing to escort any of them through airport security (thanks to TSA, it’s agonizing to escort myself) with double checking, slow motion, and thoroughness, it would be one more memory of spending time together. It will be endearing, no doubt, when you’re helping the wedding date through at 80 – but his kids (and grandkids) sure won’t think so. Time with grandparents is precious, not perfect.

    • Kat Richter

      Very true, I was so frustrated at the time but looking back a few days later, I’m like, “That was actually kind of funny,” I just hate TSA soooo darn much. They make everyone’s lives miserable. I was so worried that my grandmother was gonna pass out while standing in line at security.

  4. landlord

    It has been a trip in every sense of the word…it was a hairbrained idea on my part to give my mom a last hurrah…they have never really “traveled” except for a holy roller trip to Israel, and I thought, how bad can a 3 night cruise be, forgetting of course, that Abuela cannot manage a flight AND embarking and disembarking on one day, so it became a 5 night trip. We are still on day 5, night 5, will surely live to give Kat more to blog about. Including the “reunion”: with Abuela’s brother, most assuredly the last time they will see each other…

    • Jerseyite Lurker

      This was very nice of you, Landlord. Good luck with everything ahead.


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