What a long, strange trip it’s been …
SAN DIEGO—”So, we found your suitcase,” said the baggage services manager. “It’s in North Carolina.”
Those are really not the words you want to hear when you’ve gotten off a plane in San Diego without even a toothbrush in your bag.
But this particular SNAFU was just the latest in a series of unfortunate travel events. The night before, my flight home to Orlando had been cancelled, forcing me to stay over in Houston. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care (much). But I had to catch a flight to San Diego the next day, and that plane was leaving from Orlando. So, I’d slept for a few hours in my clothes, brushed my teeth with the “inconvenience” kit United Airlines had given to all the travelers marooned in Houston for the night, gotten up at 3 AM and flown to Orlando on the first flight out. Then I floored it home; did the fastest unpack-repack of a suitcase in my life (someone please alert the folks at Guinness); then raced back to the airport for the flight to San Diego. But as luck (or bad luck) would have it, my California flight got delayed so long that when the American gate agents realized I’d miss my connection in Charlotte, they rebooked me on a direct flight to San Diego on Alaska Airlines. But while I’d made it to San Diego, my suitcase had not.
“… so your bag will be on the first flight out from Charlotte,” the baggage manager was saying. “We should have it here around 10 AM.”
On any other day, I’d have stiff-upper-lipped it till morning. What’s one more night in the clothes I’d been wearing since yesterday? Except, I was scheduled to be on CW 6’s San Diego Living at 8 the next morning. And I couldn’t very well show up in the clothes I’d been wearing for two days. Everything I needed for TV—clothes, makeup, jewelry—was sitting in my carefully packed suitcase in North Carolina. For maybe the hundredth time in the last half hour, I wished I’d followed Jessica’s example and just carried my suitcase with me. (I know! I know! Lesson learned!)
I took a deep breath. And with all the composure I could muster on a few hours sleep, I explained my predicament to Alaska Airlines’ baggage reps.
And then an extraordinary thing happened.
“Here’s what you’re going to do,” said Patty, Alaska Airlines’ baggage service manager. She was scribbling fast on a piece of paper as she talked. “You’re going to get in a cab right now. Go to Horton Plaza and buy whatever you need for TV tomorrow—clothes, makeup, whatever. Then come back here, and I’ll reimburse you for the expense. Cab too. But you gotta hurry because—” she looked at the clock on the wall. It was 8:15—”the mall closes at 9 PM.”
Wow, right? I mean, it wasn’t even Alaska Airlines’ error, but the manager was willing to try to fix the situation. (That’s how you build customer loyalty!) With the tiniest shred of hope that this might actually work out, I jumped in a cab and hightailed it to the mall. En route, I dialed my sister, Shari, a Mary Kay sales director. I dimly remembered that she had a Mary Kay friend in San Diego. Perhaps I could get some makeup from her.
The cab had barely stopped at Horton Plaza before I was out the door. Oh, but the mall was deserted. It was 8:30 PM, and all of the mall stores were closed, locked for the night. I ran to Nordstrom—it was completely dark. As I looked around for options, I saw someone slip into Macy’s. The door was still open! If I could get into the store before closing, surely they wouldn’t kick me out till I had what I needed.
Clinging to that thought, I barreled through the door, looking frantically for the sales staff. The place was empty. Then I spotted a single salesperson at the jewelry counter.
“CLOTHES! I NEED CLOTHES! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!” I blurted, feeling a bit ridiculous. I mean, an emergency is losing your wardrobe to a fire—not because your bag didn’t make your flight to California. Still, she pointed me upstairs. I ran up the escalator, huffing all the way. (OMG! It’s been a long time since I’ve run stairs!)
“IS THERE A SALES ASSOCIATE HERE?” I yelled to the empty second floor. Now that I was here, I had no idea what to get, where anything was. “PLEASE HELP ME! I NEED A SALES ASSOCIATE!”
Then like magic, this incredibly sweet girl with fabulous hair and keen eye for clothing appeared—Setvia (far left, on the right), my Guardian Fashion Angel.
“Don’t you worry. Just relax,” she said, soothingly after I explained my predicament. “Take a breath. It’s going to be okay. Let’s get you some clothes. I got this for you. It’s going to be okay, okay? C’mon, breathe.”
She plucked pants and tops off racks and shepherded me into the dressing room. “Let’s see how these work.”
I pulled on a pair of black pants. They fit. Awesome! Next, I tried a deep purple top. Bingo! Now I just needed shoes. Setvia hustled me downstairs to the shoe department. Oh, god. The shoe department was enormous. There were hundreds of choices. Heels … flats … sandals … pumps … I had no idea what to pick. “Nothing open. My feet are a mess. I haven’t had a pedicure in ages,” I said sheepishly.
I spotted a pair of plain black suede wedges. “Those!” I slid them on. Perfection! Pants, top and shoes—done! I don’t think I’ve ever bought clothes faster in my life.
“What about a necklace?” Setvia asked.
Oh, sh*t! I’d completely forgotten about jewelry! Setvia huddled with the saleswoman who’d originally pointed me upstairs, explaining the situation. As my tired gaze bounced from necklace to necklace, uncertain even where to start, the jewelry lady expertly picked a large rose gold necklace from the displays. “This one!” she said with authority. It was well after 9 PM. Fortunately, I’d been right about them not kicking me out. But now they really needed to close the store. I’d have to trust she was right.
By the time I’d cabbed it back to the airport to get my rental car, then drove out to my cousin Jill’s house where I’d be staying while in San Diego, it was well after 11 PM. I’d been traveling since 3 AM and was absolutely spent.
Jill showed me to her guest room, then hugged me goodnight and slipped a package into my hand.
“A friend of Shari’s dropped some makeup off for you for tomorrow,” she said.
I fell asleep, smiling, thinking about all the women who’d come through for me in the last few hours. My Guardian Fashion Angels.
The next morning, I made it to the set of San Diego Living looking quite professional. I love that the purple top matches the purple streak in my hair that my hair stylist Tamara Morrow had added. And the jewelry lady was right. The necklace totally worked. Thank you, Ladies of Macy’s and Mary Kay! Watch the segment here!
And, oh yes, my bag finally arrived from Charlotte. When I went to pick it up, the good people of Alaska Airlines cut me a check on the spot as promised. Again, that’s incredibly considerate, considering that they weren’t the ones who sent my bag to North Carolina. And just when I thought I couldn’t possibly adore this airline any more, while I was waiting for my bag, I showed off our book to the counter agents, and they just loved it! Look at those grins! And these two don’t even have kids!
Fortunately, the rest of the California leg of the Boogie Wipes Tour went off without a hitch. I stopped in Oceanside where blogger Vicky Willenberg of The Pursuit of Normal hosted me for her book group! What a great crowd they were!
Vicky set out an incredible spread! Yum! I was particularly taken with the cupcakes Vicky’s youngest son had baked himself—with Science of Parenthood-colors for the frosting! Pink and orange rule!
A day or so later, I headed north to Los Angeles, where I stayed with my cousin Dan and his family. Dan’s a TV writer, and if you’ve ever watched Criminal Minds, Revenge or the soccer drama Matador, you’ve seen his work. That’s him, below, walking on the slack line. That’s a lot harder than he makes it look! When I tried it, with Dan’s help, I couldn’t take more than a few steps. Balancing on that thing is ridiculously hard!
With Dan’s home as my base in L.A., I hit book events, hosted by not one, but two former rocket scientists from Jet Propulsion Labs—among other things, the JPL crew put the rover on Mars!
If there’s one thing parents have in common—they’re all thrilled to get those Boogie Wipes!!
On my last night in L.A., I met my longtime friend Laurie Berger, editor-in-chief of the women’s online magazine, Lifescript, for dinner at a chic sushi place that Dan recommended. Seriously, if you’re anywhere near Beverly Glen, check out SHU Restaurant.
We sat at the sushi bar, in the last two seats on the right. The food was, of course, scrumptious. But when it came time for dessert, the gentleman sitting to Laurie’s left took issue with our choices. We just wanted some caramel gelato and coconut sorbet. But he insisted that we absolutely had to have the guava, mango, passion fruit sorbet encased in white chocolate.
“Put it on my tab!” he said to the sushi chef.
He was right. The tri-flavored sorbet was ah-may-zing! (We won’t mention that because of his largesse the two of us ended up eating three desserts!)
Our mystery benefactor declined to give his name. But we later discovered that we’d been treated to dessert by none other than Jon Landau, the Academy Award-winning producer of Titanic and Avatar. Talk about a Good Humor Man! Thanks, Jon!
The next day I bid L.A. goodbye and drove up the California coast. This tour has really shown me the joys of flying in and out of small regional airports, like this one in Santa Barbara. Five gates and no wait at security!
Well, here’s my ride! I’m off to Portland to meet up with Jessica for the final stretch of the Boogie Wipes Tour.