I picked up my oldest child from the airport last week. Katie had just returned from visiting her little brother in Spain. As we headed down the freeway toward the house, our chatty conversation revolved around her whirlwind adventure of five European cities in 10 short days. To say the girl over-schedules herself is putting it mildly. You should see her day-timer. Most people use one page a day to write in their meetings and activities. My daughter divides each day into chapters. “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me in the Paris airport,” said an extremely wide-eyed Katie. I remembered she had a modest layover in Paris on her way to Madrid. Katie had purposely planned it so she would have plenty of time to take a peek at the city. “Everyone has to go down the escalator through baggage to get out of the airport. As I headed down the escalator, I noticed a huge crowd of people milling around. When I got to the bottom, it was announced the entire airport was locked down because of an ‘unaccompanied bag.’ As I looked back toward the escalator, I noticed there were still lots of people coming down,” Katie explained. Geez, this was an interesting revelation since Katie had told me on the phone when she finally made it to Spain that simply everything was wonderful, safe and nobody was scary. Nope, the parents had no need to worry about the daughter. “While we were standing around, I asked one of the itty bitty airport ladies, whose job it was to keep everyone calm, if she thought I would be able to make it into Paris. She shook her head and told me it was a definite NO … in French, of course,” continued Katie. In an exploding nutshell, 20 minutes later, people were still spilling down the escalator into the baggage area. It wasn’t long before people were sweating bullets nose-to-nose and knee-cap-to-knee-cap. Then, a few minutes later, somewhere in the airport, thank goodness not in baggage, came a loud B-O-O-M. The unaccompanied bag had been blown up. It was a few minutes later that the doors opened and Katie walked briskly, without hesitation, for the Air France Shuttle bus headed for historic Paris. Considering the challenge, I feel certain my daughter will be adding to her work resume, “eating an official Parisian croissant, walking along the Seine, tagging the Eiffel Tower, and finding one of the oldest chocolate shops in Paris.” But let us move on to our next tale of unaccompanied baggage. Several days into Katie’s European journey, she met up with her brother in Valencia. The brother/sister adventure was to also include a weekend in Brussels … just for fun. Notice I said, “was to include.” Now tell me … did you ever have one of those days when nothin’ went right? That would be Katie and Ricky’s travel day to Brussels. The kids had major issues with the train on their way to the airport. Yep, they missed getting their airline boarding pass by five short minutes. In addition to the flight mishap, I learned that the tiny European airline was not very hopeful that Katie would get her money back. The snowball continued to roll downhill like an Olympic skier going for the gold while they frantically attempted to figure out how to cancel their hotel room in Brussels. Several tense phone calls to an 800 number, and another attempt to cancel at the Internet café across from the airport, did not produce the intended results. When they finally figured out how to call Brussels, it was alas, just like the train, five minutes too late. It was while pleading into the phone to the Brussels’ front desk agent that Ricky, crouched next to his backpack, noticed a young man out of the corner of his eye walk by. A moment later this same young man discreetly snatched Ricky’s pack and off he went. And yep, you guessed it … the backpack held, among other things, Ricky’s very important identification … his United States passport. “The guy was walking away with the backpack when Ricky just stood up and stomped his foot real loud. Ricky was across the room in a couple of seconds and put his hand on the guy’s shoulder. The guy just dropped the bag and ran off. And the whole time he was still talkin’ to the Brussels’ front desk agent,” Katie said, as we pulled into the driveway. “We got on another train and spent the weekend in Barcelona instead. It wasn’t Brussels, but at least it started with the letter ‘B,’” sighed Katie. Geez, I was exhausted, and all I’d really heard about was the luggage. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past twelve years. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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