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Wednesday
Feb062013

Full Contact Luggage Gathering

The flight to Shenyang was uneventful. It was just nice to be able to sit down and not have to try and stuff 20+ pieces of carry-on luggage into the overhead compartments. The flights attendants handed out snacks and children enjoyed a bun with something like a sweet paste made with, perhaps dates, in the middle. We later found out that they were called "red beans". When we arrived in Shenyang we had to get all 33+ pieces of luggage from the conveyor belt. It took a while for the belt to start to move and by the time it did people were packed so tightly around the conveyor belt that they were basically all just standing sideways, chest to back, around the belt. It was so packed that they couldn't even turn their shoulders squarely to the conveyor belt and lean over to properly pick up their luggage. Rather the people packed around the conveyor belt were only able to reach over with one arm in order to try and grab their luggage. As it turns out it is extremely difficult to try and grab a 50 pound piece of luggage with one arm before it travels past you and most people were unable to do it. Many people were able to lean and get a hold of their luggage but because they had no ability to move or adjust or use their other arm, they ended up having to drop their luggage back on the belt as the luggage behind began smashing into the piece they were trying to grab. Even if they did manage to lift the luggage, they literally had no room to actually move it through the throng of people that had formed all around them. The only way to get your luggage out was to lift your luggage above your head as you stood sideways to the belt and try and throw or pass the luggage to someone waiting on the outside of the mass of people. Because very few people were able to do it there was very little luggage actually getting off of the conveyor belt which meant that the belt was getting packed beyond anything I have ever seen in any other airport. Now the smart thing would have been for everyone to just step back a few feet and only have those people that are actually in the process of grabbing their luggage to step forward and remove their piece, but this would have required a collective group initiative and at this point the mob mentality had devolved to "every man for himself" Eventually people had had enough and they began climbing to the island in the middle of the conveyor belt in order to have a little room in order to grab the luggage. There was 3 problems with that plan. 1) They had to step and climb on people's luggage in order to get there. This caused people to become furious when they saw their luggage being trampled. 2) The conveyor was on an angle and even though the people in the middle now had room to move, they had to try and reach all the way "downhill" in order to get their luggage. As you can imagine, many people ended falling back down onto the conveyor belt, onto everyone else's luggage, when they tried to lean WAYYYY OVER and lift their luggage that was so far away from them. 3) Even if you were able to lift your luggage onto the island in the middle of the belt, what do you do with it then? How do you actually get yourself and your luggage outside of the mass of people surrounding the belt. There was only two options you could try and both of them ended up being a disaster. The first option was to try and to take your big bag and either the hurdle the belt, or run down the hill of other people's luggage, and crash into the mass of people squished around the conveyor. The next option was to try and toss your heavy luggage over top of the mass of people surrounding the belt to a partner willing to try and catch your luggage. You can only imagine what happened when people began trying to get their luggage off from the island. People were falling everywhere, luggage was getting trampled, and airborne luggage was being thrown into the crowd by those who clearly over estimated their luggage tossing abilities. It was mayhem. The belt stopped moving and the people in the back quit loading more luggage because there wasn't any more space on the belt. The next thing I can see is everyone is jumping onto the conveyor belt and diving through the rubber flaps (in the back) in an effort to find their luggage. Cory's thighs were bruised and he was hit in the head from an arrant piece of luggage. I will post a picture of him bleeding. Cory is a just an overgrwon kids and I have to admit that Cory thought it was great fun. When everything disintegrated Cory yelled out at the top of his lungs, "Christoff, Daniel,! For Queen and Country!" as all 3 of them began springing around looking for 33 pieces of luggage. Like bees to the hive they kept running back to me with their bounty before starting off in search of more luggage. (And yes, Cory actually yelled that cheesy line) I felt so bad for the people who were coming home for Chinese New Year who were transporting heavily taped cardboard boxes full of gifts, only to see their precious cargo trampled and destroyed. Several pieces of our luggage were damaged and 2 were lost....but considering that we were able to retrieve over 30 pieces of luggage in that environment I feel like we came out alright. It was certainly an interesting adventure as we arrived in the city where we will be spending 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

I hate to say it...but I'm pretty sure I'd watch a tv show of people retrieving their luggage here :). Great description. This was pretty much the scene when I landed in Nigeria several years ago.

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOlu Badejo

Hi Coles family! I am loving your blog so far. Keep the posts coming! Warm Canadian wishes to all of you. I hope you are settling in nicely.

February 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Mueller

I not only loved this but so has everyone that I share it with. Your story telling is remarkable, and this one had me laughing so hard. Ps you were in the paper again today.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGwen hall

oh my god! I cant believe you guys have already been in Shenyang. I heared from a friend u have met Bo and I am sure he would help u settle down. That is it in China...but might because the Chinese New Year,much more people than any other time in the whole year. By the way , Have a happy anthentic Chinese New Year!

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarina Wang

Really! What paper? For what? I'm glad people are liking the blog.

February 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterMichelle Coles

Thank you Heather :)

February 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterMichelle Coles

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