My trip home from Belize last Saturday ended with both stress and serendipity. The USAirways flight from Belize City to Charlotte was uneventful, but the plane from there to Raleigh — which should have gotten me home before 9:00 p.m. — was delayed.

It was a little unnerving to hear the gate attendant announce “We’ve called maintenance to come and see if we can power up the plane.” 

“Power up the plane”? They couldn’t get it to crank? Had a warning light gone off? I didn’t know, but they managed to resolve the problem, and we got under way a little less than an hour behind schedule. The flight was completely full, but most passengers took it in stride. 

Delays continued at RDU, because the off-kilter schedule put us behind another full plane, stretching the the late-night baggage crew, who can apparently work only one plane at the time. While waiting 15-20 minutes for the first bag to arrive, I fretted that I’d have to stand in line at the customer service office, where I needed to file a claim for damage to my suitcase, which had been royally ripped by some machinery on the way down. 

When it finally arrived, however, I had a minimal wait, and when I rolled the suitcase in, the lady at the counter said “My, what happened here? That’s not normal wear and tear! Would it be OK with you if I just replace your bag?”

A bit flabbergasted, I stammered “Sure!”

She then disappeared into a back room, where I assumed she was collecting a series of forms for me to fill out and mail in hopes of receiving some sort of voucher or reimbursement application. Instead, she came out wheeling a brand new suitcase, parked it beside my old one, and said “This is about the same size, isn’t it?”

It was a hair smaller and maybe a little less heavy-duty than the bag that’s travelled with me all over the world for the past dozen years, but it was new, and with no strings attached. I thanked her profusely, transferred my stuff from one bag to the other, and headed out.

I was still worried that I’d have to stand outside in 28 degree weather — without a coat — while waiting for the bus to long term parking. But, when I emerged from baggage claim the “Lot 3 Purple” bus was sitting at the Park & Ride stop, as if he’d been waiting just for me.

Sitting back in the blissfully warm bus, it occurred to me that things have a way of evening out. There can be trouble, but there are blessings aplenty, too.  

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