"Heavy Competition- The Marital Packing Challenge!" By Denise Geschke


 

My husband and I regularly engage in friendly competitions.  Who can work out more often and work out the hardest? Him.  Who can lose the most weight in a day? He can. Who is funnier? Pretty sure it’s me but somehow he garnered my daughter’s vote and claimed victory.  Who gives a better toast at a wedding or birthday? He does. Who orders better in restaurants? Obviously, him. Who knows where all of the random stuff is in our house? I’m winning this one but I think he is trying to lose.  And, here is the big competition: Who is the better packer?

 Last month, we were packing for a 5-day trip that involved Zion National Park and Las Vegas.  I began my ritual pre-pack with piles for hiking & biking in Zion (casual) and then going out in Las Vegas (more dressy).  My fit, self-deprecating husband came into the closet and assessed my work.  With a judgemental look, he asked, “Are you going to be able to get in a carryon?”

 That’s a loaded question.  It means so many things.  First, he’s asking whether or not I’m going to be a pain in the ass and check a bag.  If I check a bag and he carries on, he’s won the day.  By having to check a bag, I’ve slowed us down, made us less efficient and everyone in the airport will know that we are airport losers.  Second, he’s judging me because he’s planning to pack in a carry-on and “beat the system” with no bag fees, waiting at the baggage claim or being worried about lost luggage.

 The question is also a challenge.  I see what he’s doing but am I going to take the challenge or walk away?  Can I get hiking boots, wedges, running shoes, sandals, 6 to 8 outfits and all of my toiletries into a carry-on? I don’t believe I can. My best strategy is stand down and declare my intention to check a bag.  I do love the freedom of checking a bag because it opens up my options for extra shoes, clothes and toiletries greater than 3 ounces (like spray sunscreen!)

 On this particular trip, I took the early loss and conceded to the checked bag.  When self-assured, procrastinating husband finally got to packing, he realized that a carry-on wasn’t going to happen for him either.  Don’t get excited because, upon this realization, he did not concede the carry-on competition.  Oh, no.  He packed a checked bag and a carry-on. And then the unthinkable happened.  He asked me if he could put shoes or his toiletries in MY bag!  

 Do you see what happened here?  To me, it was a classic moment.  Not only did he not make it into a carry-on but he thought that he could overflow into my checked bag. You can’t have it both ways in an unspoken, marital challenge.  Since there was no concession forthcoming, I enjoyed my moral victory by making sure my son wouldn’t allow the overflow into his bag either (ironically, he successfully packed in a carry-on).  

 Once we were all packed up and ready to head to the airport, the challenge ended with professional, accomplished husband saying, “I could have fit in a carry-on but since you were checking a bag, the whole system broke down and I gave into checking a bag.”  In my book, that’s a draw.  


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