Let’s just say that things were off to a rocky start.
Don’t get me wrong—I read the guidelines for weight limits before leaving my house for the airport, but somehow, I managed to skip the part where the combined weight of my personal item and carry-on luggage had to be a maximum of 10 kilograms. For those of us reading from home—or perhaps the only place in the world that uses an arbitrary system of measurement, that’s 22 pounds. A whole 22 pounds.
Honestly, 22 pounds isn’t that much. I could lift 22 pounds without a second thought and I weigh just over 100. And so what if my combined weight added up to 28? Same difference. No second thoughts needed here.
But not according to Norwegian Airlines...or probably any other airline if I’m being honest here. With a completely unsympathetic look, the man at the carry-on weighing station pointed to the long line of similarly misguided passengers. I asked him what I would need to do and he simply laughed.
“Pay for a checked bag,” he said with a chuckle.
You know those stories about having to pay obscene fees at the airport check-in counter? Yeah, I never thought I’d be one of them. Don’t be a statistic, kids.
But here I was, forking over a whopping sixty-five dollars over to the also-unsympathetic woman at the check-in counter. To give her credit, she did offer me the chance to wear many of the clothes in my bag in order to make the weight limit, but I wasn’t convinced I could shave a few pounds of fat just by putting on some flannels and turtlenecks and calling it a day.
And so I failed the first test of being a Let’s Go Researcher-Writer. I fell into the trap that I had warned all my RWs of last summer: Don’t. Over-pack.
I swear I didn’t over-pack. It is the professional opinion of my mother that I under-packed. And you know what they say—mother knows best.
But “over-packing” really wasn’t the problem anymore. As I stepped into the brutal joust that was getting through the TSA, I started to feel small and felt tempted to turn around and take the bus back to my house, where I could climb into bed and watch Netflix until the sun came up.
There’s a small part of me that swears had I not checked in that stupid bag—with all my turtlenecks and flannels—I might have turned around. But here I was, putting all my outerwear onto the conveyor belt when a smiling TSA agent said to me:
“You know your shirt’s inside out, right?”
I looked down frantically at my t-shirt, only to find that yes, the pocket square was indeed not where it was supposed to be and, in a crowded airport, I probably looked like a lost, confused 12-year old child.
“I’m not judging,” the agent continued. “I just thought you might like to know.”
And, of course, being as preoccupied as I was with the inside-out shirt, I left my hat at the security belt and didn’t realize until I was on the plane.
But don’t worry. A lot happened before I even got on the plane.
The first thing I did when I made it past security—flawlessly, may I add—was to find a restroom and switch the shirt right side out. Never mind that I almost sat in someone’s leftover sprinkles of piss on the seat or that I truly tried to use a dryer that was clearly marked “OUT OF ORDER” in red lettering or that I almost dropped my phone in the sink. The good news is: my shirt was back to normal. I looked normal again. 12-year old who just lost $65 normal.
And since I was flying Norwegian Air, I had been warned several times by family, friends, and former employees that not a drop of water would be offered to me for the entire flight (unless I wanted to drink from the bathroom sink). So I, along with the many other knowledgeable travelers flying on New Year’s Day, scoured the airport for the cheapest food possible.
Because I refused to pay 13 big bucks for a panini, I ended up with a fruit salad that cost me $5.47.
I walked over to the gate area where many a grumpy Parisian sat with their posh-looking clothes and posh-looking carry-on luggage and posh-sounding accents. As I navigated through the aisles between the seats, navigating between their posh-looking shoes, I couldn’t find a seat.
Until I spotted a guy with a New York sports hat who had his backpack in the seat next to him.
“Is anyone sitting there?” I asked kindly.
He gave me the wildest death glare I have ever seen in my life. With a huff, he moved the bag, placing its royal ass on the floor, and cursed under his breath in French.
Lovely. One hour into first-solo trip and I’ve already managed to fall victim to obscene fees at the check-in counter, get fashion advice from a TSA agent, and piss off the locals.
Whatever. I resisted the urge to glare at him and proceeded to eat my fruit salad. By the time I was called for boarding, I had only finished half of it, so I closed the container and put it in my backpack.
I could have sworn that shit was airtight.
Minutes before takeoff, I realize that there’s some liquid leaking from my backpack. I open it and discover there’s a slight drip coming from the seemingly airtight container of my fruit salad.
Suddenly, I wish I had bought the panini instead.
In a moment of despair, I reach into my bag to put on my hat, which has this uncanny ability of making the music emitting from my headphones seem louder in a moment when I’d just like to sink into the floor.
That’s when I notice the hat is missing.
So here I was: 6 pounds over, $65 dollars lost, an inside-out shirt, a pissed-off Parisian, a leaking fruit salad, and a lost hat.
Tragic. But not as tragic as the takeoff—perhaps the shakiest experience of my life. The water in my bottle wouldn’t stop swishing back and forth and neither could I.
And so concluded my first few hours as a Researcher-Writer. Almost 60,000 feet above sea level and alone in the many losses I have taken since leaving the comfort of my bed earlier this evening.
Let’s hope the landing is a little smoother.