The trip had begun. On December 3rd I left the States to arrive in France hopefully the next day, with a few stops along the way.

The first flight as always was some teeny-bopper airplane and as I was walking on the lady said “your carry-on is not going to fit in the overhead, you’ll have to check it. Do you have any batteries in there?”

Why yes I did have batteries in there, the dangerous lithium kind in fact, and to be honest the whole bag was full of them. I had been especially careful to pack all the batteries in my carryon since the airline website explicitly says “No lithium batteries in checked luggage.”

Upon hearing this news the lady informed me I couldn’t check the bag, but that I also couldn’t bring it on board. “You just won’t be able to make this flight if you don’t do something about it.”

By doing something about it she meant unpack the carryon, take out all the batteries and hold them in each of my ten hands for the duration of the flight, presumably. Which there wasn’t time left to do in any event.

We went back and forth for several moments while she placed a dangerous red sticker on the handle of my carryon, me suggesting that my luggage was the proper size according to the specifications on their website and she suggesting that I would blow everybody up and me wanting to suggest that that was a “you” problem.

Finally I said “I’ll just try to see if it fits” and started walking down the boarding bridge. No one came after me and I hid the red sticker with my hand while I walked onboard. But the lady had not lied, this bag was indeed too big for their overhead. But I hoisted it up anyway, and pushed and grunted and began to panic and thought “this is it! I haven’t even left my hometown yet, and I’m already stymied!” But in one last superhuman effort I planted my feet on the side of the chair behind me and stretched my body out horizontally across the aisle and pushed as hard as I could and miraculously the bag squeezed in and I somehow managed to get the door closed. But not without many sighs, eye-rolls and outright comments of a negative nature from the passengers waiting behind me.

We made it to Chicago and I spent the entire brief layover time there re-arranging the carryon and my (grossly oversized) “personal item” bag to get all the batteries into the latter. Which I successfully did but then no one else ever brought it up again.