What’s a Handgepäck?

Absurd Items I Have Packed in My Checked Baggage:
• Prescription glasses
• House keys
• German cell phone
• Contact lens solution
• Two jars of green Chile sauce; insufficiently wrapped
• Electric converters; US–>German and German–>US
• Work camera, microphone, headset for VOIP communications

So here I am in the Zurich airport, one eye swollen nearly shut in protest after it was abortively stabbed with a slightly crispy contact lens (the solution drained out of the lens case during the overnight flight, rendering my toothbrush plump and presumably disinfected but leaving husks where contact lenses used to be,) squinting at the Departure/Customs/Toiletten/Lounge signs which are trying to tell me to rush to gate A64 to wait for another delayed flight. When I arrive at the Hamburg airport, I will take a taxi to my locked apartment, where I will patiently wait in the stairwell for the German to get home and let me in. He will wonder why I haven’t called (cell phone in luggage in Switzerland) or texted (too cheap to use the American cell phone I have with me,) or emailed (battery dead on my US computer.) I will then attempt to join an important conference call without the benefit of devices to help me hear, speak, or be seen. I will watch my co-workers gesture on my computer screen through my one good eye, wondering when my suitcase, filled with green Chile-contact lens solution-electronics-house key-glasses soup, will arrive.

For the record, I do have the following with me:
• Stubs of boarding passes for the last umpteen flights, crushed together into one overflowing jacket pocket,
• Fake German passport (surprise! It’s a cleverly disguised notebook. So handy!)
• Single serving Metamucil packets, orange flavor, leaking grit slowly into the corners of my purse,
• One pen, devoid of ink,
• Six tubes of lip stuff,
• Several kinds of bizarrely flavored gum (rhubarb, cassis mint, etc.)
• Passport, cash, credit card, and a few other things (e.g. very adult-looking beige scarf,) meant to reassure me (and customs agents,) that I am responsible enough to travel by myself.

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