I sent a small roll-on suitcase back to its maker this past August to have a wheel replaced, which repair was I thought going to involve pulling a cotter pin, replacing a $10 wheel and putting the cotter pin in again. Three months later I got back a new suitcase, which is some sort of statement about our times. Apparently, during the two years that I had had the bag the maker had redesigned the wheel housing and no longer had the ability to replace a wheel on the former design. And though you might think it difficult to complain about receiving a new bag, my old one was leather and had the most wonderful patina on it, courtesy of my friends at A Shine & Co who had worked on it more than once over those years.
You cannot check leather bags of course, at least not unless it is your intent to give full employment to the bag cleaning industry. Leather emerges from the bowels of an airport so dirty that it must be intentional, and checked bags need to be canvas or some other material that does not show the filth. I have three of those large canvas things, which is one more than I need for my usual travel since a single bag accommodates everything I need for a week. And that is why I was surprised to stumble over today's photograph, which purports to be Alan Flusser's packing for a trip in 1983. I have not had occasion to call Alan and ask how long he was planning to be away, but I count eight pairs of shoes. With shoe trees. And a pair of slippers. Enough shoes to warrant a dedicated shoe case and strain the backs of baggage handlers everywhere. Even four pair of treed shoes in a suitcase tends to put the thing's weight up to a hundred pounds, and if you will recall the airline counter personnel you saw on your most recent trip they would find that weight impossible to shift without assistance.
Household moves aside, the only kind of trip I was initially able to imagine that might require eight pairs of shoes is something like a six week cruise, where one's luggage is going to remain in place once six or eight strong porters have set it down in the cabin. But that does not appear to be the case in this instance, as there is only one suitcase in the photo and but a week's supply of clean shirts. Which gives me pause. Have I been overlooking something fundamental? Perhaps I should be carrying more than the three pair of shoes that usually accompany me. It could be done if I was to leave my briefcase behind and replace it with that leather roll-on to make more room for shoes. Two brown, two black and a pair of trainers would seem to suffice, but am I thinking big enough?