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By Jordan W. Charness

“I just came back from vacation,” were Peter’s opening words when he dropped in.

“Did you have a good time?” I asked politely.

“It was great, kind of… that is, until the end, what with the police and everything…’ he continued.

“Well, that explains why you don’t look too relaxed,” I said. “Why don’t you sit back and tell me all about it.”

And so he began. Peter and Mary had been planning this vacation for quite a while. Everything would be terrific: each stop had been meticulously mapped out. They were taking their kids on their first long-distance airplane trip and would be spending several hours in the air, in several planes since they were visiting many different places throughout the trip.

Peter had suggested that they pack lightly since they had so far to go and would be checking in and out of several hotels. Mary agreed enthusiastically and promised that she would keep the number of suitcases for the five of them down to only three, with perhaps a few carry-on items.

Mary was true to her word but when Peter came home from work to see how the packing was going and to pack his own clothes he saw three of the biggest suitcases he had ever seen in his life. “How are we going to get around with those things?” he wondered to himself. In addition to the three giant suitcases, Mary had also added seven carry-on bags. These were really just small suitcases that were used to handle the overflow.

With the help of his children, Peter managed to drag the three suitcases down the stairs, out the door and into the back of their minivan. He piled four of the seven carry-ons on top of the suitcases. The other three went to the back seat next to his youngest daughter.

At the airport it came as no surprise that when he checked in the suitcases, the attendant took one look at the size of his bags and weighed the big ones. Each one was overweight, as there was a 35 kg limit. He was charged an additional $50 for each of the suitcases. They also stuck on a great big tag that read “HEAVY” to each case, and boy were they ever.

The trouble really began when he arrived at his first port of call and went to get the rental car that he had ordered. Since they were going to be “travelling light,” Peter had reserved a mid-sized car. It was rapidly apparent that there was no way that all the suitcases and the people would ever fit into a car of that size.

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