I arrived at Denver International at a little after 11:30pm and immediately began a journey through Dan’s 14th level of hell, lost-luggage-land. I have no idea why Dante stopped at 9 levels. I am sure he had a deadline. Perhaps my outlook on life is a bit cynical. I have 59 levels and counting. My 14th level is the afore-mentioned lost-luggage-land and I was staring it directly in the face after 25 minutes of waiting at the luggage carousel produced the usual black , red and an occasional pink bag but none that matched my generic black one*. When it was clear my bag was not coming I schlepped over to the baggage office where I was promptly directed back towards a podium by the carousels and asked “Have you talked to that women?”. “No”, I replied and then thought “15th level, merry-go-round-land, here I come”. I answered the prerequisite questions for entrance into merry-go-round-land, type of bag, color etc and resigned myself to never seeing my luggage again. The next problem on my agenda was how I was getting home at this late hour but before I started to tackle that problem my luggage had been granted a last stay of execution. It seems it “had wandered away from the rest of the luggage” and was found cowering in a corner somewhere. Lets hope I did not just use up my travel karma I thought as I headed over to ground transportation. When I am gone for weeks at a time I always leave my car in my garage and take the airport shuttle. For return trips the shuttle folks tell me a reservation isn’t necessary. I was now about to put that advice to the test. Sixteenth level of hell, stranded in airport-land here I come.
Fortunately the shuttle desk was still open complete with a long line of customers. My luck seemed to be holding until a minute later some official looking guy, well he wore a uniform anyway, announced that I was now entering the 16th level, the shuttle was shutting down. He was trying to contact the drivers that had just left for home to see if they could come back for one last run. As optimistic as he sounded, I for one was not convinced that he was going to be successful. So there we were about twenty of us hanging around for Beelzebub to greet us while uniform guy wandered off in the direction of what I only could hope was a shuttle and not a donut. I am sure those were easier to find. I being of Polish descent (ie, sweaty) was content to wait outside away from the desperate masses. Soon the refugees started to break into small groups. Oh-oh, Lord of the Flies level here we come. My trepidation turned out to be premature. The cliques were based on who was going where. Unfortunately the leader of the Boulder group was a very young , very desperate and who I assume was a about to be victim of a hustling cab driver. The desolate look on his face screamed “I’m vulnerable , please take advantage of me”. He and two others bound for Boulder had secured a $20 dollar a piece ride to Boulder. I believed that about as much as I believe the Cubs will win the word series in my lifetime. I am making plans for my ashes to be sprinkled on the field when the blessed event takes place. I declined to be a passenger on the road to level “stranded by cabby because we did not have $200”. Soon another “choice” opened up. For $60 I could have the privilege of accompanying 5 strangers to unknown parts of Denver before making it to Boulder. For that I get a discount of $20 off of average cab fare of $80. Sorry, I can get lost in Denver on my own and for free. I was starting get a feeling that this evenings odyssey had a few more chapters in it that would rival “After Hours” (it’s an awesome movie, check it out) but so far nobody had died. Risking that record and taking matters in to my own hands I talked to one of the cab drivers still hanging around the ground transportation island and “negotiated” an $80 fee. Yes steep compared the other “bargains but from I what gathered by talking to ground transportation personnel earlier, it was within line of a normal cab fare to Boulder. At this point my gut told me to shoot for normal rather than bargain and I alway’s listen to my gut. Well these days I do. Just ask my friends about the times I didn’t and you will get a litany of psycho ex girlfriend stories.
The ride home was uneventful. Sorry folks, no murders , no mayhem and no running out of gas. It was however 1:20 am. I suppose that was not too late considering I had just left level sixteen. Thankfully level one of heaven on earth was just around the corner. “Posturpedic-land” was calling me.
* Note to reader: I am color blind so it is highly probably that any one sample of the worlds luggage collection will contain much more than three colors.