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Gone With The Wind

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Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – the column where people blindside me with questions, and I have to answer them, even though, oftentimes, answering questions only leads to more questions. Especially the way I do it.

This month, in honor of the summer, we’re going to answer some questions about travel. It’s important to go on vacation once in a while, so you have some relaxation, unless you count the stress of getting ahead on your work before vacation, catching up on your work after vacation, and driving long distances with your kids having border disputes in the back seat.

Dear Mordechai,

I haven’t flown in a while, but I heard they changed the size regulations for carry-on luggage. What should I do? Buy a whole new set of luggage that is one inch smaller?

Nervous Flier Far Rockaway

Dear Nervous,

You might be able to get away with your bigger suitcase, as long as they give you a smaller plane. The last time I flew, I bought a new suitcase, because the one I had was a half inch wider than regulation, and I’d heard that the airlines are very strict about these things. Like if your suitcase is too big, it’s going to be hanging out the back of the plane.

But then I got to the airport, and it turns out the plane I was taking was very small. Okay, so it wasn’t that small. It’s not like it was just me and the pilot, wearing goggles and scarves and yelling to each other over the motor. But I was able to stand up in the aisle and reach both sides of the plane. Until the flight attendants asked me to stop.

But my point is that because the plane was so small, no one’s carry-on could really fit in the overhead bins, so the flight crew didn’t bother measuring anything – they just told us they’d put it under the plane, for free. So the half inch would not have mattered.

So my advice is to request it. Just say, “Hi, could you please get me on a small plane, so I can put my carry-on go underneath the plane, instead of right over my head?” Those should be your exact words. If you do that, the size of your suitcase won’t be a problem, because chances are airport security is going to take it out into a field and detonate it, just in case.

But if you find out that your plane is bigger and that they are measuring luggage, you can always buy something smaller from the airport’s luggage store for 400 dollars.

Because really, for what other reason could there be to put luggage stores in an airport? Is anyone coming in with armloads of clothes and toiletries tumbling out of his elbows, and going “Suitcase! I knew I forgot something!” Is it for people showing up who already have suitcases? What are they supposed to do with their old ones? Are the stores for people who land at that airport and realize their suitcase was lost midflight? (I say “midflight”, like it fell off the plane.)

“What am I going to do? I lost my suitcase!… Oh, never mind. They sell suitcases right here. I’m good… Wait. These are empty.”

Dear Mordechai,

My wife and I are taking the kids on vacation, and we’re bringing along everything we own, apparently. How do I pack my car so it all fits?

M.F., Cincinnati

Dear M.,

Forget things. That’s what I do.

I’m not kidding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve showed up at my in-laws house for Shabbos without my suit, which was still sitting near my front door in a suit bag. In fact, most of my current suits were bought last minute on a Friday somewhere in Massachusetts.

But if you want to try to get everything in, you’re going to need to develop a strategy, taking into account such factors as how important it is that you see out the back window. I say that once you’re done backing out of the driveway, it’s no longer your problem.

The best strategy, probably, is to put in the bigger items first, followed by the smaller items, followed by your wife coming out of the house with her suitcase, which is the biggest item of all, which you now have to put on top of your hat, the food, and one of your kids. And then you realize you forgot to work in the stroller. It’s a lot like playing Tetris, only when you do a good job, the whole row doesn’t light up and disappear.

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