Early in my relationship with my late husband Herman, a clinical psychologist, he kept on admiring my almost new briefcase on wheels, saying how perfect it would be for him to transport patient files. After he had admired it one too many times, I could take a hint if bonked over the head, and I offered to give it to him as a gift, to which he feigned surprise as he readily accepted. I cleaned out all my stuff from my briefcase and gave it to him.
At Christmas time, Herman insisted he was going to come to England with me and meet my parents. Meeting my parents to ostensibly get their blessing, seemed a bit of an absurdity when I was 50 years old and my husband was ten years older. But I went along with the idea. He was not an experienced traveler. We arrived at the airport and I produced my paper ticket for the clerk at the British Airways airline counter. Then came Herman’s turn and he proudly produced his ticket and gave it to the clerk.
She replied, “I am very sorry Sir, but I need your ticket. This is a boarding card for a Delta flight that Ms. Tapping took 3 months ago.”
My eyes grew big and round. I was stifling giggles.
“Herman, we need your ticket…”
“Honey, I looked into my briefcase pocket last night and I thought that this WAS my ticket. The real ticket must be at home.” He was starting to look agitated.
I asked the clerk if she could look up Herman’s booking and honor the ticket. Sadly no. She explained ( and this was before electronic ticketing) that the best she could do was sell him another ticket and he could send in the unused ticket on his return and he would get a full refund. Then came the killer blow.
“Your new ticket will cost $2200 and your refund will be $550.”
Herman paled, that was a lot of money to him, but he gamely produced his credit card. He was determined to go to England. Crisis over. But not quite. He was about to check in his bag.
I frowned and said, “Herman, where is your hanging suit bag?”
He looked totally flustered and said, “OMG, I must have left it in the car!”
“Well, you are just going to RUN over to the parking lot and get it and RUN back here! “ By this time I was not amused.
I looked at the clerk and she nodded reassuringly, “Yes, you still have enough time. This happens all the time Sir.”
As Herman sprinted away I turned to the desk clerk by way of sheepish explanation, “He is not a very experienced traveler and I am taking him home to meet my parents.”
The clerk nodded sympathetically, but you could see that she thought that maybe I should re-evaluate the potential of this relationship.
Needless, to say, Herman made the flight. My mother, a planner and incredibly well-organized person, greeted us at Heathrow and politely asked us if we had a nice uneventful flight. Lying through my teeth, I said, “Oh yes, Mum. Everything went very smoothly indeed!”
And here is the rub, for years to come as I would triple check on my husband before a flight, he would insist that the whole episode was my fault for not emptying out my briefcase properly!