Wednesday, July 04, 2007

How Much Does a Fitted Sheet Weigh? (or, Why I Packed Too Much)

I have a packing problem. Specifically, I have an over-packing problem.

It's part vanity, part stupidity, part neurosis. I know I don't need to bring two hooded sweaters on a short trip, but what if I spill mustard on one? Do I want to walk around for the rest of the time in a mustard stained sweater, or do I want the option of wearing a mustard-free hoodie? Also: you can never have too many pairs of socks. If there's a flood or the floors are really dirty or if it's cold at night or if you just like to masturbate a lot, it is always a good idea to have plenty of socks on hand (or foot).

Last time we toured I packed too much. I realized half-way through the trip that I just wasn't going to wear my team Canada jersey, and I kicked myself for allow myself to convince myself I would. So I promised (myself) that it wouldn't happen again. This time I would pack only the essentials.

It turns out, however, that there were plenty of essentials. Where last time we were only on the road for 6 weeks, this year I would be gone from mid-May until the last week of August (and potentially the first week of September). 16 weeks. Four months. 1/3 of the year.

And I wasn't going just anywhere. I was going everywhere. Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Vancouver; with potential short-stops in Montreal, Guelph, Port Colborne, Calgary, and points in between, above, and below.

And I wasn't just doing one thing. I needed everyday clothes, but I would also be attending a first communion, pitching a play at the Magnetic North festival, going to play openings, maybe swimming, maybe going to a baby shower, and, unbeknownst to me at the time, attending my brother's wedding. I needed more than shorts and t-shirts. But I had to bring more than one pair of pants, since Ottawa can be fucking cold in May. Ugh.

So I brought too much. This time, however, I have worn - at least once - every piece of clothing I brought. I may not wear it again (I'm looking at you, Magnetic North pitch session rehearsal shirt), but I wore it once.

But there's a different problem this time. When I flew in from BC, my bag weighed in at 59 lbs. The weight limit per item of checked luggage when you fly with WestJet (and I always do) is 60 lbs. "Fine," you say. "You're under. Just barely under, but under nonetheless." While you're correct, you're leaving something out of the equation. You're leaving out what I left out until I arrived at the airport on Friday to fly (with WestJet) from Ottawa to Toronto.

I was going to take the train. I always take the train from Ottawa to Toronto. It's cheaper than flying, but not as depressing as taking the bus. It makes me feel very bourgeois. And like any good Bougie, rail passengers don't concern themselves with how much luggage they bring on a train. As long as you can haul it up that impossibly skinny staircase, you can bring it on.

But then the natives decided to protest, so I decided to fly. Being stuck on a train sucks. I wasn't going to risk being stuck on a train in Caledon.

I arrived at the well-lit Ottawa airport on Friday. I got my boarding pass, and I put my bag (with the help of a friendly WestJet owner) up on the scale. 64 lbs. I had left "all-the-shit-you-accumulate- randomly-when-you-live-somewhere-for-six-weeks" out of the equation. Damn.

The West Gentleman offered me a choice: pay a $40 "overweight" fee; or cram 4 lbs. worth of shit from my checked bag into one or both of my already overstuffed carry on bags. I fought with him for a moment. I told him that their policy didn't make any sense. I told him that it was ridiculous that I could have two bags that weighed a combined 120 lbs., but I couldn't have one bag that weighed 64. It's not like it's going to cause the plane to crash! I am owed 56 more pounds of luggage, and I am cashing in!

He then informed me that the policy isn't there to keep the planes from falling out of the sky, but to keep the baggage handlers from injuring themselves.

I skulked to the corner and attempted to weasel a measly 4 lbs. out of my suitcase. Inside I found an Old Navy bag. In it was a fitted sheet and a pillow case that I'd borrowed from my parents and was returning to them. Perfect! I also threw a pair of shoes and the box from my new camera in there.

Nervously, I returned to the scale and heaved my bag upon (up on?) it. 54! 54 lbs.! I beamed as they tied the blue "HEAVY / LOURD" sticker on my bag. I'll keep my $40, thank you very much.

But seriously: 10 lbs. from a sheet, a pair of shoes, and a tiny cardboard box with my warranty information inside?

1 comment:

djones said...

Hi there - Dave from WestJet here.
I'm both a WestJet employee and an owner. I enjoyed your story (sorry that you baggage juggling experience was a bit of a pain in the backside however). The Customer Service Agent was right - the number of injuries experienced by our Baggage Handlers due to heavy bags is the reason that we have weight limits on each bag. (Believe me, I've travelled with 2 small children, and fully appreciate the challenge of packing everything into a small number of bags and ending up with overweight bags.)

I do concur that those seem like REALLY heavy sheets. I'm curious if you used the same check-in counter both times? I have to check around inside WestJet, but I believe that the scales are all set and managed by each Airport Authority. I'll do some checking around and try to give you another update on that.

I hope your flight with us with great, and that you will try us again. Please check out the map of our destinations when you are setting up for your next adventure. Maybe we can get you there.

Yours truly,
Dave from WestJet