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.
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
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.”
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?
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.
Some people, in an attempt to avoid these problems, get one of those plastic turtle shells that they attach to the tops of their cars, and then every time they go through a toll booth, they flinch and duck, like that’ll make the car shorter. Also, if you don’t do a phenomenal job attaching those things, the wind can catch them, and you can be going over a bridge and all of a sudden, out of the corner of your eye, you will see all of your worldly possessions sailing majestically into the river.
So I say that maybe you should tell the other people in the car that they can only bring in suitcases of a certain size, and that you’re going to weigh them. That’ll go over really well with your wife.
I’m out on the highway, and every time I pass an exit, my GPS makes a point of telling me to stay left. Every exit for the entire trip! So I threw it out the window.
Frustrated Location Unknown
The left window, I hope. But yeah, you did the right thing.
Don’t get me wrong. A GPS is a very helpful device, but it’s basically like a person with no social skills that you let sit in the passenger seat anyway because he knows how to get everywhere. He keeps interrupting you while you’re talking or listening to traffic reports to tell you things that he’s already told you that have no bearing on your life, like you should stay on the highway that you’re already on that he already told you that you don’t have to get off of for at least three hours. And you miss the beginning of what he said because you didn’t realize he was about to start talking. But then other times, for no reason at all, the GPS is silent. “Should I turn here?” It doesn’t answer. I personally think the next leap forward in GPS technology should be that it responds to voice commands, such as “What?” and “Should I stay left again?”
To be honest, my GPS doesn’t always know where we are. For example, whenever we drive through Manhattan, it spends half the time convinced that we’re actually inside buildings. And right now, as I type this, it thinks we’re on the Garden State. It’s like a little senile being that won’t stop giving advice.
“Make a right over here.”
“We’re home, Bubby.”
I also cannot for the life of me figure out how to stick it to the window. It stays on for a while, but then I make a left turn, and Clump! It falls on the floor, out of my reach. And then it keeps directing me, muffled, from under the seat. It’s like I’m taking direction from someone I kidnapped. So, in total, a senile, socially-impaired kidnap victim.
But at least we’re making progress. Just a few short years ago, GPS devices hated humanity, and took every opportunity to cheerfully send us the wrong way down a set of train tracks. It’s like they were programmed using cartoons. So at least nowadays they’re just passive aggressive about it. So, progress.
But I say that if you don’t like your GPS, you should toss it, and just drive wherever the wind takes you. Maybe you’ll find your turtle shell.
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