The long-lost suitcase, and tea, return - Curt Yeomans

I interrupt my weekly travelogues to bring you a very important message - I finally got to enjoy Earl Grey tea from the London-based Harrods department store on Wednesday.

It's better than I imagined. It's certainly not sugary-tasting like the sweet tea that the South is accustomed to, but it is a strong, stiff, chest-warming drink.

I got to enjoy the tea because that suitcase of mine that went missing in London's Stansted Airport two months ago FINALLY showed up at my home Wednesday morning. Among the contents, were some candy bars from London, my old work shoes, a pair of my socks, some Christmas tree ornaments, some vanilla fudge, and electrical outlet adapters for European power outlets.

There was also one very beaten-up box of "Harrods Finest Earl Grey Tea," and quite honestly, that was the only thing I cared about.

I bought that drink, and considering it was going to cost me at least £34 in British currency (which is $55.59 in U.S. currency) to replace it through an online order, I was very eager to see that suitcase returned to me.

While the thought of my luggage getting lost overseas conjures images of it going around the globe before coming back to me, the reality is it was sitting in the cargo area at Stansted Airport the entire time.

I was only contacted by Ryanair's Stansted employees three weeks ago, to let me know the suitcase had, in fact, been found. It's a good thing they contacted me when they did, too, because I was getting ready to write them a letter filled with expletives to express my frustration that the luggage had not yet been found.

Two weeks ago, I got a very early morning call from Ryanair's Stansted office to let me know it was being shipped to my home via an international courier. It was set to arrive at my house by today, and by George, it did, indeed.

Now, an "international courier" coming from London sounds really impressive. I had images of this person dressed in his British finest (shirt and tie, black, long coat, and a black bowler hat, with a black umbrella hanging from the arm) showing up at my door, and handing me my suitcase while speaking in a proper English accent, saying, "Here is your luggage, sir."

I know, I totally just stereotyped the British, but the reality is, if you change black to green, you basically have the Harrods doorman. No kidding about that.

So, what was the reality when my luggage showed up at my door?

It was delivered by FedEx. An American company, with an American delivery person - who was wearing a hideous, purple-and-black outfit, consisting of a polo shirt and shorts.

I can't lie. I was kinda let down by that.

So, anyway, I have my Earl Grey Tea. Within six hours of getting my hands on it on Wednesday, I was already drinking a cup of it out of my Atlanta Thrashers coffee mug, because, you know, that's what you do with fine British tea. You drink it out of a weighty coffee mug branded with the mark of a not-so-great American sports team.

The British have their sterling silver teapots and little, white, Bone China cups that they take with them even when there's a fire in the catacombs of St. Paul's Cathedral. I drink it out of whatever I think no one will steal off of my desk at work - and can also hold larger amounts of tea to get me through the work day.

At least that's the one thing I can keep my mind focused on, rather than wondering why it has taken FOREVER to get my luggage back to me.

So, get ready everyone, because I'm getting ready to move into the columns on spending a week in Ireland. The first installment is a thrilling, death-defying (more than you can imagine) description of what it's like to drive on the other side of the road in Ireland.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.