Packing Fail or Packing Genius. You Decide.

Recently, I went a business trip. I’m always really excited about getting to go to a conference, right up until it is time to go to the conference… Then I am stressed about about all the work I’m leaving behind, and working extra hard to get things ready so I can get away. The life of an overworked, understaffed, midlevel manager is only glamorous in the movies. I was to leave Saturday to arrive in time for a networking reception Saturday evening and the conference kickoff on Sunday morning. Yes, Sunday morning. I didn’t plan the conference, I just went to it.

Working Girl is a movie classic
This movie is the real reason I work in an office: Working Girl

Anyway, the week was crazy, I worked late most nights, had too many meetings, etc., etc., but at least I had the luxury of having someone on my staff make my flight arrangements for me. That saved me a ton of stress right there. But, somehow, when I looked at my itinerary, I looked right past the scheduled departure time of the first flight to the departure time of the connecting flight… My husband asked me a couple of times during the week what time I was leaving and I always shrugged him off and said, “Oh, Saturday afternoon sometime.” That’s what I thought!

I think I spent Friday evening watching Netflix with my daughter, not too worried about the laundry I still needed to do Saturday morning, since I had all morning to do it. I even thought I might go to an early exercise class and pack for my trip when I got home. Finally, when I got up early Saturday morning, I checked my flight schedule, so that I could give it to my husband, as he had asked days before. To my horror, I discovered my error and realized that I was going to need to leave for the airport in a couple hours, not midday as I had thought, and I hadn’t done the laundry I was going to need on the trip. Needless to say, I didn’t go to the exercise class. I scrambled around trying to figure out how to wash everything I would need in one load… I have lived my life by the mantra of never mixing colors so I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw everything in together. I should have. I really should have.

When it came time for me to leave, like literally I should have been backing the car out of the driveway already, I was hopelessly pulling my still-wet clothes out of the drier where they had been tumbling for approximately 3 minutes. I grabbed a plastic bag, dumped the wet clothes into it, wrapped the wet pile inside another plastic bag and stuffed the whole thing into my carry-on. I’ll just dry the stuff at the hotel when I got there, I figured. Lots of hotels have laundry facilities for guests. I took my carry-on and my suitcase out to the car and drove to the airport. Fast. I made it in plenty of time, I thought.

I checked my suitcase, went through security, got a snack, and settled myself near the gate to wait for them to start boarding my plane. I was 100% oblivious to the fact that no one else was standing or sitting anywhere nearby. It did not even occur to me that there was anything weird about that. Suddenly, they called my name from the little counter thingie at the gate right in front of me, saying “Quirkella, final boarding call.” Yeah, I was the last person to board the plane. They shut the door immediately behind me. I’m just glad the crew called me or the thing would have taken off with me just sitting there literally a few feet from the gate holding my carry-on full of wet clothes.

Empty airport gate
When you get to the gate and no one else is there, hopefully they will call you by name before they take off without you. Photo from

The good news is that wet clothes compress nicely into a small amount of space and are less heavy than you might think. I didn’t even have to futz with putting my carry-on into the overhead bin since it fit perfectly well under the seat in front of me with my purse tucked inside of it. Also, apparently wet clothes packed into a wad are not alarming to airport security when viewed through the X-ray machine.

Eventually, I made it to the conference hotel, a fancy-schmancy place where I would not have been staying if I were paying for it myself. It was probably not the sort of hotel that had a coin operated washer and drier tucked in the back somewhere next to the ice and vending machines. But I asked anyway. I was assured that they would take care of any clothing care needs. I had only to call the concierge and my things would be picked up from my room and delivered back within a few hours. I opted not to take them up on it. I just couldn’t see sending out my handful of t-shirts and underwear and a cotton cardigan to whatever fancy schmancy laundry mystique they had going on there to be returned most likely pressed, lightly scented, on hangers, wrapped in tissue paper and accompanied by a sizeable charge to my room. I ended up just shaking out my things and hanging them up overnight. The next morning I used the iron and ironing board supplied in the room to touch up the left over wadded-up-in-a-wet-ball wrinkles.

JW Marriot Hotel, downtown Austin, TX
This 1,012 room JW Marriot in downtown Austin, TX is the largest JW in the Americas, and 2nd largest in the world after the JW located in Dubai. It’s very fancy schmancy.

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But, I also think I’m a little bit genius. Because, although I didn’t plan for this to happen and I was pretty stressed about it until I found the iron in my room, it’s not the first time I’ve done something similar. This summer, leading up to our family vacation, I ran out of time (due to work again, as usual, working, working, always working) and resorted to just bringing my dirty laundry with me. We vacation in a condo and there is a washer and drier in it. I usually do a smidge of laundry while we are at the condo anyway and just bringing my stuff with me to wash on site rather than stress myself and everyone else out trying to get it done before we left was actually pretty brilliant of me. My husband thought it was nuts (and might have been a little grossed out too, but that might be his problem, not mine) but I liked it so much I might do it again next year!

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