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  • Writer's pictureS. Rae

A Christmas Disaster and a Christmas Miracle

With all the travel nightmares out there, who doesn’t have a nightmare travel story to tell? Maybe those that didn’t go anywhere, but then again, maybe they where waiting for a loved one and disappointed when their loved ones didn’t arrive. You didn’t have to travel to be effected by the travel nightmares.

Because of Covid many people didn’t visit family or friends for the Holidays for a couple of years. So last year I decided to visit for Thanksgiving and was planning on doing the same this year, but God laughs when you make plans. I couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving so I traded my bus ticket for a Christmas trip instead. I was to spend Christmas with my daughter, her new husband at their new home and everyone was very excited.

I always struggle with what to get my family for the Holidays and because Covid made shopping more dangerous than it usually is around the Holidays, I opted for making my own gifts. This year I decided to go through old family photos and put photo albums together for each family member, including my new son-in-law with an album of baby pictures of my daughter, photos of the family he has married into, and other fun pics.

My trip began in North Florida and I was to work my way down the Sunshine State by bus. The bus leaving my town was late arriving and then was stopped in traffic on the highway causing all of us who were not getting off in Orlando to miss our connecting buses heading south.

There were two other buses leaving for South Florida from Orlando but they were full and couldn’t take on any more passengers, so my daughter bought me the last remaining ticket on another bus line heading south. I felt so bad for my fellow travelers because it looked like the bus line we had taken to Orlando didn’t have any drivers available to get the rest of them to their destinations. What a mess.

I boarded the second bus that was also arrived an hour behind schedule and since I wasn’t transferring to another bus I wasn’t worried other than it was cutting into my family time.

The bus arrived in my home town for me to find that the bag containing all my families Christmas photo albums was gone. We only made one other stop before my final stop, so I figured someone grabbed my bag by accident. But when I said to the driver that my bag was missing and it contained all my Christmas gifts, he looked at me and said, “Call my office in the morning”, I said, “It is the morning! It’s four o’clock in the morning”, and with that he walked past me and on to the bus to continue going to his next stop.

My daughter arrived at the airport a few minutes later to find me in a state of shock and disbelief, after all I had put the bag on the bus myself, so what happened? My daughter and I figured someone grabbed it by accident but were they going to return it, after all the gifts would mean nothing to a stranger.

After spending the early morning hours contacting both bus lines, one for the missing bag, the other for the missed connecting bus, we each grabbed an hour nap before heading to the bus stop. I wanted to look for any evidence that someone may have just thrown the stuff out when they realized there was nothing of value to them, or hoping if someone had taken the bag by mistake, maybe they had returned it.

Six hours had passed by the time I realized by bag was missing and we arrived at the bus stop. My daughter asked to speak to a manager while I checked dumpsters and garbage bins. The manager at first didn’t want to do anything until we got the Florida Highway Patrol involved.

Once we filled out an incident report with the Highway Patrol, the officer spoke with the manager of the bus stop and spoke with the bus line that lost my bag. That was all we could do at that point so we headed to my daughter's house for an afternoon nap. A couple of hours after leaving the bus stop my daughter received an email saying my bag had made it back to Orlando and they were putting it on the next bus south.

I did retrieve my bag that Friday afternoon around 2:30, nine and half hours after I noticed it was gone and sixteen hours after I was to originally arrive. And to my great surprise and endless gratitude I discovered there are still good people out there, nothing in my bag had been touched. What used to be a nice bag was now beat up with both straps broken and a hole in the side, but everything inside was fine.

To all those who had a terrible time traveling this Holiday Season, you didn’t need to be in a snow storm to get caught up in it. No more bus trips around the Holidays, only during off seasons, Amtrak is my choice for Holiday travel from now on.

Carpe Diem to those stranded travelers, and to those that didn’t get to see their loved ones during the Holidays.

Happy New Year to everyone, everywhere, may all your dreams come true.

Sending love Ukraine.

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