If you're a business traveller like me, it's quite likely that on some important trip your luggage has gone astray. Or even worse, the pitch presentation has been left on a train or in a café. All of these have happened to me at some point.
Ordinarily I travel very light, taking no more than I need as hand luggage; but for some unfathomable reason on a recent trip I chose to check my luggage. This year I was due to speak on UK Retail Promotions at an industry conference in Nicosia, Cyprus. Waiting at the carousel in Nicosia Airport I watched as bag after bag was collected, the thud and flow of cases eventually slowing to a stream and then to a trickle and still no sign of my precious bag.
Those few of us left standing gave it three, then four, then five minutes before the realisation set in. no bags were coming. This was that awful feeling that we all get in the pit of our stomach, what the authors of the brilliant "Meaning of Liff" called an "Ely" (Ely (n) the first tiniest inkling that you get that something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong")
The really big problem for me – my presentation and clothes, in fact everything down to and including my toothbrush was in my bag. It was nearly midnight, a car was waiting for me and I was in the conference first thing the next day. Of course, my luggage was still at Heathrow and wouldn't arrive until the next night, just as I'd be relaxing with a post conference drink.
Friends heard of my dilemma on social media and advice was pouring in – including the classic piece of advice that there is no problem so big that it can't be solved by throwing money at it.
Well there is one problem, my personal handwritten notes on a presentation printout could not be bought at a Cypriot superstore. Suffice to say it was a long night. The presentation itself was easily downloaded from the Cloud and printed off in the hotel, the hotel laundry did wonders with the clothes I was standing up in and we can all manage to get hold of replacement wash bag contents. The result was fine, I managed to turn up, on time and make the presentation to what I was told everyone's satisfaction.
As life lessons go, and despite all the comfort zone advantages of new technology and our reliance on Cloud computing and USB sticks and universal brand availability (be that Colgate or Persil) there is still one piece of advice I need to remind myself of, and that is if I ever handwrite anything important, even if it's only on the back of an envelope ,to keep it with me.
As someone else once said, it's all very well to put all your eggs in one basket, just watch that basket.