There’s a Sale on Other People’s Personal (OPP) Baggage

I love road trips. I have gone cross-country four times now from New York to California. Usually I have taken Interstate 80.I have had a chance to see parts of the United States that perhaps not many New Yorkers have seen. As a matter of fact, and I will have slept at least one I only have eight states left before being able to say I have slept in all 50 states in the US (along with the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and the commonwealth of DC). While, I prefer in some abstract way international travel because it allows the cross-cultural psychologist in me to learn about “foreign” norms I really do appreciate within-country travel as well. The United States is very diverse in its geographies and norms despite the large export of shows like Friends and Jersey Shore (where in Japan it is called “Macaroni Rascal”) that tend to showcase the northeast.

As part of my business travel, I tend to concentrate on travel in the deep south-which I absolutely love. See I am a foodie and I love, love love peach pie, key lime pie, fried chicken, gumbo, catfish and ribs. One of the best ribs I have ever had was at a place called Agnes and Muriels where I could get coca-cola ribs and red velvet cake; along with a yummy southern peach cocktail. That is my definition of heaven. Viva the south!

Anyway, I have been to every deep south state but I am contemplating a winter road down south, perhaps all the way down to Key West. Although, we may concentrate on the states of Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama. See there is this supposedly awesome place called the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama where they sell off items that travelers never claimed: so, it sells the unclaimed luggage across the various airlines. First off, I hardly ever check luggage. As a frequent flier I know better. If I have to change flights I get a leg up but not having any luggage. I will wear two sets of clothes before I check luggage. Although, occasionally it is necessary to check luggage (i.e. traveling to japan with a three year old). My fear is that my luggage will somehow end up at a store such as Unclaimed baggage Center. Yet, said store still holds some appeal to a frequent flier such as myself. The appeal lies in the potential stories one can weave around the items. Why was someone carrying a chicken head costume; what happened to the person who lost the crutches or what was the saddle for?

Shopping at such a store can even become a team building activity for those workplaces that travel more than 30% of the time. From the reviews I have read online, there really are not that many bargains to be had (pricewise) at these unclaimed baggage centers. But it seems fun in the frequent-flier sense. I don’t think one should go wanting to find a bargain on an ipod or a digital camera. The fun of going to such a place is finding an odd dress that could have been someone’s unfortunate bridesmaid dress and trying to tell the story of how they came to lose it?  Did they get sick of waiting for the sun to rise and melt the frost since the airline had no de-icing fluid (gee, where did I get that example from) and just runaway? Did the plane land in the wrong city due to severe turbulence and they were too horrified to get back on the plane? The stories one can spin can be emotionally invaluable. What about all the random t-shirts that extoll the greatness of never-heard-of-before cities? Such a collection of t-shirts can be priceless when working out in the hotel gym and you are trying to strike up a random conversation (although I actually do hate talking to people when I work out). In a review of the unclaimed baggage store in Alabama, someone noted that they found an Indian Salwar Kurta suit. Huh?  Ok. Sounds cool and could possibly be the starting point of an interesting scary campsite tale.


In a time when we all have such much “baggage” (emotional, psychical) seems kind of cool to rummage through other people’s baggage and not be traumatized or inundated by it.  Considering that I am often the go-to person for people’s catharsis sessions, I like the idea of rifling through others people’s lost baggage. Think about that tactic as well, next time you are travelling. Perhaps it’s best to just lose that piece of luggage and never lay claim to what is within and start anew.  You may not get a piece of the financial profit but you may just get something better: a cathartic event that didn’t impose on anyone else.

If I go on this roadtrip, I don’t expect to find any real bargains. But instead I expect to be reminded of some of the wackier moments of my travels and hopefully have myself a good laugh. Sometimes, that and a basil lime daiquiri is all you need to get through the day. Give me other people’s low-cost “baggage” (that I don’t have to respond to) on a rainy day.

I welcome your thoughts

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