The Goat-Bag and Jennifer Connelly’s Fight for survival

This is a fairy-tale for instructional purposes only. Feel free to change content while telling it to your children at night. And don’t let them watch Labyrinth, it’s not good.

Imagine this: You just reached your final destination and you’re either excited to start your vacation or feeling refreshed from a little R&R. You deboard the plane with a big smile and a thank you to the Flight Attendant and head to baggage claim. You made a friend on the flight too, the guy sitting next to you was throwing peanuts at the Bro-Dude who was trying (and failing) to make the flight as miserable as possible for everyone. You decide to walk together. You couldn’t be happier. As you approach the carousel you realize the bags have already started ejecting from the floor. You wait as everyone claims their belongings, some people start to leave. At this point the only people left are the elderly passengers who think it’s necessary to check the name on very bag that goes around, you know, just in case. You start to worry “I did check it all the way through didn’t I?” you think as you scramble to find the little sticker the ticketing agent gave you when you started your trip. Then you here it. “Flop” you look up and there it is, your bag. Or what’s left of it. The happy go lucky disposition you once had does a complete 360 as you watch your bag slowly make its way down the conveyor. What could have possibly happened that turns your bag inside out, changed the color from black to something resembling seaweed, and makes it smell like grandpa’s barn. So again, What happened? The answer: The bag room happened.

Lets rewind to the beginning of the trip. You are at the ticket counter, you just received your boarding pass and your bag has been tagged. “Head on down to gate A17, Drop your bag with TSA, they will screen it and send it down. Thank you and enjoy your flight” is probably something you heard from the ticketing agent. So you do as you’re told and put your bag on the cart with all the other bags. This is were our story begins.

To help you understand, I’m going to attempt to compare each aspect of your bags journey to a fairy tale. First stop: Three Billy Goats Gruff. This is TSA. TSA agents are the Trolls who live in darkness and are always hungry. The huge machine that screens the bag is the bridge.  And of course your bag is the Goat. Now lets put this into perspective. As your bag starts to cross the “bridge” the TSA Trolls are watching a little monitor. The monitor tells them exactly what is in every bag. But remember, the Trolls are hungry so they look for every opportunity they can to jump on the bridge and pull your bag apart, break your belongs inside, grope every little bit of your traveling life and once they realize there’s nothing good inside, they wrap it up with a bunch of TSA Screening tape and send it on its way in hopes that a bigger better “Goat” will be coming next.

After that, the TSA Trolls put the bag on a long conveyor which belongs to David Bowie: King of Goblins and it enters the labyrinth. The Bag Room.

Just like the King of Goblins, the designers of the bag room meant for it to be unsolvable. The system of conveyors seems endless and the constant swing of mechanical arms and trap doors beats any bag senseless (hey I rhymed.) Occasionally what ever is reading the tags (probably one of Bowie’s muppet goblins) sends your bag to the wrong airline but most of the time they get it right and after about a 15 minutes journey your bag is dropped into the Bog of Eternal Stench.

The Bog of Eternal Stench is the area of the bag room that a particular airline claims as their own. They walk, slowly and avoid sunlight and mirrors. The bags drop in and are sorted to their destination. Why is it being compared to the Bog of Eternal Stench? Because it stinks. This area of the airport hasn’t been cleaned, ever. The house keeping service that keep most areas of the airport bright and shiny have no jurisdiction here. There is a good half inch layer of, well I’m not really sure, covering everything. If I had to guess it’s some combination of dirt, dust, and the remains of people who got lost down there over the last 90 years. And after your bag goes through the labyrinth of bag conveyers, this is where it is dropped, literally four to seven feet.

So now your bag (the goat or Jennifer Connelly who is too young to be in that movie) is sitting in a hug pile with other bags waiting to be sorted. By this time any bag that had liquids inside, is now oozing out onto everyone elses, this is a given fact. Your bag has the blood of other bags on it. This concoction of booze, perfume, and toiletries is why we call it the Bog of Eternal Stench.

What is the only creature who can navigate a labyrinth and isn’t affected by the smell and filth of the Bog of Eternal Stench? The Minotaur, also known as the Bag Man. The Bag Man usually has an above average amount of upper body strength, has little to no people skills and for some reason is always angry. For these traits are the reason he must dwell in the bag room, he is condemned to sort bags for eternity. There’s no change or difference, no fueling. He talks to his tug (the little tractor dealies used to pull the baggage carts) as if it were his wife.

This is how it is done: First the Minotaur navigates his tug through the bag room at amazing speeds. He finds his area of the bag room with his bags (because once they enter his Bog they no longer belong to you until he is done with them.) Then he begins to sort them. He does this by quickly jumping off his tug right into the middle of the bag pile. From there he begins to aggressively throw them onto a particular cart (only he knows his method of organization) then quickly speeds off again. This is all done in a matter of seconds with a large amount of grunting and arm flailing.

Periodically in all this speeding around, a bag will fall off the cart blocking the way of another Minotaur. The Minotaur will now use this bag as a way to pick a fight with the other Minotaur when they see each other next. This is usually a fight worthy of National Geographic, comparable to elephant seals asserting dominance for their female mates.

The bags are then loaded and unloaded from the plane the same way they were picked up. This process is  then repeated for every connecting city you go through. The Bag Men (and occasionally women) are the same all over the world.

Now here you are, at your final destination watching your bag slowly make its way to you. How more bags don’t end up like this, the world my never know. But hey, look on the bright side, you can actually see the extra care your bag received from you paying the extra checked baggage fee.

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