Developments

It's not over yet, but I do have some exciting news to report on the story of the left-behind carry-on.

When I last left you, the missing bag was (presumably) sitting somewhere in Queen Alia airport, and Jeremy and Miriam and I had safely arrived in Tucson. We had basically given up hope of ever seeing that bag again, but that didn't mean we were giving up.

In fact, even before boarding our flight from New York to Tucson, we enlisted the help of that most masterful of information-getters, my mom. She made a ton of phone calls while we were busy flying but was never able to get a (helpful) live human being on the phone who could tell her what was going on. In the meantime, Jeremy and I wrote emails to a few students who were still in Amman and would be going to the airport in the next few days, telling them to ask about the bag.

Although she hadn't been successful with the phone calls, my mom did score an email address, and she wrote a letter briefly explaining the situation. In reply, we received this:

Please need your help and reply.

I wrote another simpler, briefer email stating only the bare facts in very plain English. In reply, we received this:

ATT O/D
PLS CHK ND RX ADV WZ B RGDS M.SBEINATI

Clearly, we were dealing with a situation so critical, so unusual, that it necessitated communicating in code.

The students we had sent on a rescue mission came away empty-handed, and I don't blame them. Apparently, the RJ staff cited "security concerns" when they were asked about the suitcase. I guess I'm glad to know that even if they did have our suitcase in their possession, they didn't go around confirming or denying its existence to just anybody.

It was time to break out the big guns. We enlisted the help of a leader of our church congregation. He's a retired Foreign Service officer with killer Arabic and a lot of...presence. He called the airport and was told that there was a Samsonite (!) bag turned in on the morning of the 18th (!) that had a Canon camera inside (!). Now, our bag was not technically a Samsonite, but we figured that might just be the generic name Arabic gives to a rolly carry-on suitcase. Our go-to-man headed to the airport to investigate this lead. Our hopes skyrocketed.

Sadly, the bag was not ours. But, while there, our friend talked with an RJ employee who said he had been on duty on the 18th when a carry-on suitcase was found at the Terminal 2 check-in counter. He had personally put it on a flight to JFK just that same morning (yesterday). The only information they had for the suitcase was a tag number, a name ("Janice"), and a phone number - which happened to be our old Tucson phone number.

After hearing this from our friend, I was as sure as I could be that we were talking about our suitcase. I immediately made half a dozen phone calls and through some miracle finally got in touch with an actual person in the JFK baggage claim department. She typed in the tag number and said that indeed, the bag was scheduled to come in on a flight any moment.

A few hours later, I called back. The baggage people said they hadn't seen the suitcase. A minor setback, hopefully overcome when...

...a few hours after that, I called again. This time, excellent news: baggage handler Cindy told me that the bag had come in and would be sent out tomorrow night on a JetBlue flight to Tucson!

In a little more than 24 hours, we'll know the end of the story. In the meantime, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

And now you know the rest of the story

In which I get even closer to cursing than last time