Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Suitcase - Basket Case

Suitcases de Triomphe

“Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is, one might almost say, habit-forming. Not only that, but it is contagious; it transmits itself to others.”

- H.A. Hopf

Last night I nearly had a nervous breakdown while shopping for suitcases. I know you’re thinking, Not Theresa. She always has her act completely together! How can a normal person have a nervous breakdown when shopping for suitcases?

In a few short weeks, my husband and two children are attending a wedding in Ireland. Since it’s my side of the family that has Irish roots, it seems strange it’s my husband’s family who’s having the wedding in Ireland. His cousin is marrying an Irish woman, so that’s the reason. My husband really only has one cousin, so it seemed important to attend. Besides, we’ve hardly traveled and had only gone to Ireland once before when my son was eleven-months-old.

Since we were going so far, my husband and I decided to add a few days in Paris. (I know, a hardship.) My daughter is looking forward to it because the city conjures up romance plus rumors of good bread. My son wants to go for the cuisine and the Arc de Triomphe. They both want to climb the Eiffel Tower. (Marsha Moore*, thank you for your help!)

Because most of our travels consist of driving, we normally take a gigantic duffel bag in which to cram all of our clothes. This thing won’t work for a plane trip, especially with no wheels and a fifty-pound limit. For previous plane trips, we borrowed a suitcase from our in-laws, but since they’re also going to the wedding that won’t work. So we had to behave like grownups and purchase our own suitcases.

After dinner, my husband and I drove to T.J. Maxx. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a discount designer clothing and housewares store.

In a previous post** I mentioned the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. He asserts the more choices we have, the less happy we are. And the more we weigh different options, the less ideal any one choice seems. Since then, I try not to agonize about purchases. And I’ve gotten much better, making a swift choice, and moving on without much buyer’s remorse. I’ve evolved.

Heading to the baggage section of the store, I planned to employ the same philosophy. I’d find two suitcases that were the right size, sturdy, hopefully not black (too common on the conveyer belt), and with wheels.

While there, I noticed some were lighter, so I added that option to my list. I found two red ones, but one was too small. I held on to the larger one, while my husband looked for another. Then he found another type he liked because it was expandable (and he won’t admit it but the little orange trim was an added bonus) and the same brand of backpack I’d bought him last year. We were practically set, but at some point he’d pointed out a bag with four wheels, so it didn’t have to tilt in order to move. That got me thinking.

I should mention that when faced with too many choices when someone is impatiently waiting, I become a deer in headlights. I. can’t. make. a. decision. That’s what happened. I pulled each four-wheeled suitcase off the shelf and compared them. None of the four wheelers were as light as the red one. How were the interiors designed? And which had more outside pockets? Is it bad if one isn’t expandable? At this point, I had three in front of me, paralyzed with indecision.

My husband walked away, letting me agonize alone. He returned with a can opener and in that time I’d only succeeded in adding a bag. “You were going to do this alone?” he asked incredulously. If I hadn’t had a sub job, yes, that was my plan. And I could picture all of the calls I would’ve made to him while he was at work.

Forty minutes since we’d arrived, I’d narrowed it down to two, which were splayed open on the floor. My husband tried to talk me into the red one.

Just then a woman passed by, pointing to the purple one and said, “I have this suitcase. It’s the best. I love it.” She pointed to the red case, “Don’t get that one.” Then she leaned over and touched the extra bag inside and added, “Mine didn’t come with this.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled.

My husband, relieved beyond measure, said, “You have an endorsement. What more do you want? ‘It’s the best.’ Get this one.”

So I did.

Sometimes I need to be talked down from the indecision cliff.

“This indecision’s bugging me

(Esta indecisión me molesta)

If you don’t want me, set me free

(Si no me quieres librame)”

- Jones, Mick; Mellor, John. Song “Should I Stay or Should I Go” The Clash

* Marsha Moore’s 24 Hours Paris launch is this week!


** My post that mentions The Paradox of Choice:



  1. Hahaha don't worry, sometimes I have to be talked down from the indecision cliff too! There are just too many choices sometimes :) Your trip sounds like it's going to be heaven. Paris is one of my favorite places on Earth for the same reasons - romance and food.

  2. Theresa, I am always on the indecision cliff. What's really sad, is that I had a suitcase that size going 15miles for 2 nights. Maybe Ann will lend you some shoes??
    Funny post and think of it you get to go to Paris, it will be worth it, we have TK Maxx here, must be same chain.

  3. And in the end the bags were gotten and all was well. : j
    I live in Paris, if there's anything I can do to help, feel free.

  4. Wow, that sounds like an amazing trip! And you get to explore your family history in Ireland.

    T.J. Maxx is awesome. I have one about 15 minutes away. They have nice bags and purses :) I'm glad you finally decided!

  5. I am so jealous of your Parisian trip! (And the Irish one, of course - bring a brolly, we've been having brutal weather here!). Have fun!

    PS - Having a schizo moment here - Marsha will be by later to say thanks! :)

  6. Julie, I'm glad I'm not the only one who perches on that cliff from time to time. I'm excited. I wish the trip could be even longer, but it gets expensive and school's still in session.

    Brigid, you made me laugh about Ann's shoes. I'm going to TRY to pack shoes for the wedding and shoes for walking. That's it. Maybe...

    Alesa, we're about to book a hotel. Marsha had some ideas, but if you could pass along a specific place or neighborhood, I'd appreciate it.

  7. Theresa, you are hilarious. I so enjoyed this virtual shopping experience with you. I laughed the whole time. Please write a story about going to an Irish wedding and about visiting Paris. I want to go so bad!

  8. Aubrie, it will be my second trip and I'm still not looking up family not too far from Shannon airport. One day.

    I love T.J. Maxx too. My mother-in-law used to work there, and she'd get access to all the good stuff first.

    Talli, I hope the weather cooperates. The last time we were in Paris it was sunny and in the 70s. It makes packing easier.

    I look forward to hearing from Marsha, but she doesn't have to bother now!

  9. Theresa I was just about to give a shout out and tell you that you should check out 24 hours in Paris by Marsha Moor (Talli Roland) but you beat me too it!!!

    Sounds like quite the trip and a fun one at that! I understand the agonizing pain when choosing suitcases my husband and I were out shopping for them before we went to Los Angeles and since we had never truly owned real suitcases the search was long and tough. I'm not near as picky as my husband but in this since I was grateful! Two great suitcases (one with a laptop holder!!!!) by swiss with a lifetime warranty! We are buying one more before Hawaii!

    I can't wait to hear and see all about your trip for the wedding! Thinking about your husband only having one cousin is mind boggling considering I have too many to count!

  10. Sounds like a great trip. Don't let indecision get you down. I'm sure you will do just fine. I'm taking the kiddos to Munich this summer. I'm dreading the plane ride ***fingers crossed** hopefully they will behave.

  11. I love the purple bag Theresa. Have you packed yet? I will drag my bags up from the basement next Monday. Shoes are sitting neatly and orderly on the floor waiting to be packed. Stop laughing!!!

    I remember my first grocery shopping trip when we arrived here. I was overwhelmed by the choices of ketchup. I stood there staring at the ketchup for what seemed like hours. I feel your pain!

  12. It's hard to recommend anything without knowing what you want to do, where you want to go and stuff... And I'm not on expert on hotels in Paris (since I live here), but I have had some visitors stay in the hotel Langlois. It's located in the center of everything and has for the area fairly reasonable prices and decent digs.

    Asked an American friend the same question, she recommends the "Ideal Hotel with its relatively low prices but no frills", also in the center.

    If you get a hotel outside of central paris it will usually cost less, but then you'll lose a lot of your sightseeing and exploring time getting from the outskirts to the center, so it isn't really worth it. Most things you'll want to visit are in the center, and the access to transportation to and from the airport lands you in the center...

    You might also want to consider subway passes to get around during your stay. I don't know how long you're staying but it may be much cheaper to get a day pass or weekend deal then getting tickets every time. They also have the added advantage of working for the bus.

    here are the rates for single tickets

    Hope that info is some use to you.

  13. Roxy, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I promise to blog all about the trip.

    Jen, I just spoke with my husband and mentioned my jealousy over your laptop compartment. I hope to put mine in a bag I bring on the plane. How will I be without my laptop for a week?

    Ooo, Hawaii? Have fun!

    I'm the one with a bunch of cousins. I wrote a post called "Thanksgiving Contest" where I compare our families.

    Christine, good luck on the plane. I forget the ages of your children. My son was a baby the last trip. On the way to Ireland, it was just him and me on the plane. On the way to the airport, he had a bout of teething, but luckily the medicine kicked in before we boarded.

  14. Ann, I'm breaking in the bag for the conference beginning this Friday. Then I have to wait another couple of weeks for the big trip.

    What size shoe do you wear?

    When my husband's relatives visited from Brazil, the mother was overwhelmed by the choices in the supermarket too.

    My son got croup in Ireland and I had a hard time figuring out which medicine would be the same. All the brands were different.

    Alesa, wow that was fast! Thank you so very much. I'm looking into all of this information right now.

  15. Don't mention it.
    It was fast because there wasn't much I could do.

  16. Ha! You quote The Clash, how cool it that?!

    I am a very decisive person too... unless put in those exact same circumstances. I think it's normal and okay to want to be educated in our decisions, not shoot from the hip. Which is what shopping anywhere but online does to me.

    So very jealous about your trip. Have a great time!

  17. Call me if you need help figuring out meds again this time. Niece and daughter are pharmacists. Chemists as we call them in Ireland.

  18. Have a wonderful time in Ireland and Paris, you lucky woman! *is jealous* :) - Charlotte

  19. Ahem. My other persona here now! Thanks for the shout-out Theresa! :)

  20. Alesa, believe me, you did plenty.

    Jackee, the good thing about shopping online is nobody can tell when I spend way to much deciding.

    Ann, thanks for the offer. It will be a relief to know I can call you if anything comes up.

    Charlotte, thank you. It's only my third time out of the United States. Fourth if I count the time I went to Canada for an hour on a field trip.

    Marsha, your persona is welcome.

  21. Ireland AND Paris? I'm insanely jealous. No matter what luggage you take, you're going to Ireland and Paris!!!!!!

  22. Yay for helpful customers! We really need new luggage.

    This weekend, when we drove to visit my grandma, I used my husband's old big, pastic suitcase, that he's had for over 10 years. Lame.

  23. Julie Musil, good point! I'm very excited.

    Kristina P., and now the technology has made suitcases much better so a long trip with an old suitcase is a hardship!

  24. Oooh la la Madame Milstein!!!

    What a mighty craic this is to be sure.


    It's not quite the same and yet it is but I so get swayed by say amazon reviews of a book or a product - especially when I can't make my mind up - I read the reviews and then feel more focused cos someone else liked it so it must be good!


    Btw, if that's the purple luggage in the pic - it's absolutely lovely!!!!

    Oh what a lovely trip this is going to be - Ireland & Paris.

    I look forward to your many adventures and lotsa pics!

    Take care

  25. Wow! Such exciting places to visit. I have always wanted to go to Paris. Soo Romantic. My husband and I have talked about perhaps next summer! Like the purple suitcase. You sure can't miss it on the baggage carrier!
    Good luck at your conference. Enjoy!

  26. Hee! You sound like me. :) Your trip sounds like such fun. Enjoy yourselves.

  27. I LOVE the purple! Pretty.

    I mostly don't relate to the shopping horror. I am swift and know what I want pretty fast, no matter how many choices. It doesn't stress me, in fact, it excites me. :)

    What would excite me most, in this case, would be thinking about the TRIP! WooHoo! I'm jealous. (we're going to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam next year...I've never been. Can't wait.)

    I want to hear all about the conference, and then all about your European vacation/Irish wedding experience.

    And, last, but not least...I LOVE the Clash. Kudos for slipping them in so nicely.


  28. I totally get it. I once spent about an hour jut trying to decide between two suitcases. I can really drive myself nuts...

  29. Old Kitty, I had to look up brolly from Talli (umbrella) and now craic from you. How are you?

    I LOVE Amazon reviews because they're so helpful. And you can always weed out the people who have axes to grind with their low ratings.

    I'm looking forward to the trip too. I'll take lots of pictures!

    Choices, it will be a little less romantic with the kids, but I'm sure we can work around that.

    Sarahjayne, another fellow indecisive. Thank you!

  30. Lola, the purple was a nice coincidence. I was good and went by other criteria than color. I had enough to agonize about!

    Your trip sounds awesome. How long are you going?

    Bossy Betty, now I can point to my comments and say to my husband, "It's not just me." We're in good company.

  31. You need to bring me when you make these shopping trips - I shop like a man, in and out in five minutes or less (sheesh, that didn't sound right, but I really was talking about shopping!)

    Your trip sounds wonderful - so wonderful that I don't think it will matter what luggage you bought :)

  32. You're right on with the "too many black bags on the conveyor belt" comment. My husband and I always have to tag team -- he pulls off the belt while I frantically (all the while trying to look cool) watch to see if others have wondered off with my allergy barrier filled black bag. The purple will be easy to spot and equally sportish. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels the need to blog about non-teaching topics!

  33. Jaydee, that's what my husband is like too (related to shopping, that is). I'm the one who drags it on and on!

    You're right. The luggage won't matter, except to and from the good stuff.

    Amy, it's easier to have a colorful bag than sticking ribbons on it. We've traveled with black bags too. Once our luggage was lost and it took us until each black bag got picked up to realize it.

  34. I've pitched a tent on the indecision cliff., so I can relate. Michael now forwards me menus before going to a restaurant.

    I'm sure you'll have a great time!

  35. Shannon, pitched a tent? You made me laugh. I've gotten better at menus so I thought I was cured.

  36. Looks like your Shopping experience was a good one...:)
    BTW, you're right about too many Black suitcases. We have two blacks and a gray one. Once, my Mom missed our suitcase three times... hehe

    Anyways, have a nice day!

  37. Are you a libra by any chance:) I hope you and your family have a great time! Coming out to my neck of the woods- be sure not to miss Montmartre- it's my favorite.

  38. I have the same trouble picking out stuff, but picking out suitcases is indeed a hard decision to make.
    I spent €100 on suitcases recently only to find that the wheels were completely useless and the suitcase didn't roll along at all! It would have been easier to just pick it up:)
    Have a great time in Ireland & in Paris. Paris will be fabulous around this time of year, you lucky thing! You deserve the break too.

  39. Mr. Stupid, I can completely relate. Each time I've looked for mine, I'm sure, "That's it." I'm very bad at spotting my own suitcase.

    Creepy Query Girl, I'm going to pack as much in four days as I can. Sorry, not a libra. Just a basket case.

    Olive, it's terrible your wheels didn't work. If that happens to me, I'll be in big trouble.

    I hope the weather cooperates and the volcano.

  40. Wow. I'm jealous. I don't think I'm going to be able to afford a trip this year...
    TJ Maxx is a good place to go for suitcases. I always laugh at people who spend a lot of money on luggage and then get angry when it gets scratched in transit. My philosophy is that the luggage is there to protect your clothes, not to be treated as a national treasure! Of course it's going to have some wear and tear.

  41. Vagabond Teacher, I'm sorry you may not take a trip this year. This will be our last big one for a long time, I'm sure.

    It's true, how precious should luggage be? Strong and light is more like it.

  42. I could've used your help to talk me off the clIff a few weeks ago when I spent an HOUR trying to pick out the perfect suitcase!

    I love the purple one and it'll be easy to spot at baggage claim:)

    I'm so excited for your trip!

  43. Kathleen, you and I have the same problem! Did you find the perfect suitcase?

  44. Hahaha, I can be the same way.

    Glad you picked one, though :) Don't you just love strangers' inputs?

  45. Tiffany, anyone who can save me from myself by offering advice is welcome.

  46. Ha ha...at least you're not me, who would have bought all of them (provided they were on "sale").


  47. Student Handouts, I'm a sucker for sale items too. But two of them cost plenty!