For the Record: I hope Santa has better luck | RecordCourier.com
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For the Record: I hope Santa has better luck

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

I usually have bad luck with both Christmas presents and flying. When you put the two together, no good can come of it.

The year before last, I decided not to take my gifts with me on the plane trip home to Ohio in case my baggage got lost. Instead, I sent them UPS two weeks before Christmas. I got to Ohio, but the gifts didn’t until the day after Christmas. Every time I got on the Internet to track where the package was, it said they went from Reno to Fresno, then I guess they decided to do some sight-seeing.

That same year, my friend Chris bought me a large ceramic elephant for Christmas (don’t ask). We wrapped it in bubble wrap and wrote FRAGILE all over it. I think the baggage carriers played rugby with it. It arrived in many little pieces.

This year takes the cake, however. I got on Priceline.com to find a ticket home and soon discovered that I had bought a ticket for the second week of December. Needless to say, Christmas has not been moved this year. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of using Priceline, I can tell you it’s really important to make sure you enter the exact date you would like to fly the very first time you put in a bid. It took my first bid, which I thought would be way too low and I had to go home Dec. 9.

It was a warm and joyful (early) Christmas. My family and I laughed a lot. My mom taught me to crochet and we went to visit my brother in his new house. I got a lot of stuff I asked for, including a new clock radio that has a CD player in it. I got some clothes and a new pair of Nikes.

Then came the trip home. I got to the airport in Cleveland to find Priceline neglected to tell me when the flight was cancelled. Not to worry, American Airlines put me on another flight that was leaving just a little bit later and I would now have a layover in Chicago. However, I only had a half hour to make my connection and O’Hare is roughly the size of Uganda.

Of course, the plane was late, then we couldn’t find an open gate and had to wait on the tarmac. I now had just five minutes to make my flight. The flight attendant told me to run like hell and he would call the gate and tell them to hold the plane for me. They didn’t. Hauling two bags and huffing and puffing, I ran up to the gate to see the plane just pulling away. My other two bags did make the flight, but I had to spend the night in a hotel.

The next day I arrived in Reno about noon. I went down to baggage to track down my luggage and then I finally got to go home. When I started to unpack I immediately noticed it. My new clock radio, which had still been in the box, was gone.

I knew exactly where I had put it and now there was a hole in the piles of clothes and other gifts. I couldn’t believe it and started pawing through everything, but of course it wasn’t there. I had to face the fact that someone actually went through my luggage and stole a Christmas gift from me. What kind of person would do this? I was flabbergasted. Later, I discovered a videotape that was in my stocking was also gone.

It took me a while, but I got through to a person at American who apologized, but told me they had to have receipts before they would pay for stolen items. So the burden of proof is on me. I have to spend time and money calling my parents, asking them to go through receipts of all the presents they bought to find the ones that had those two items on it.

Now I know how Ebeneezer Scrooge felt. I felt like writing this column as a warning to anyone flying this season and really ripping into American. What a hard lesson to learn at Christmas.

But ever since I’ve come home, I’ve learned a different lesson. I’ve experienced those generous Carson Valley folks who really live the Christmas spirit, despite some nasty baggage handlers out there. The area food drives, toy drives and clothing drives have netted more items than ever before for people who can’t hope to buy their children CD players.

It’s hard to say “Bah, humbug” when surrounded by these people. Even though I’m still sad that I lost things my parents gave to me – and I don’t know if the airline is going to repay me – it’s still Christmas, and instead of a warning, I just want to send everyone good wishes for the holiday and the coming year. Merry Christmas.

n Merrie Leininger is a staff writer for The Record-Courier.