lost baggage lost ways

Literally only a few dozen steps separate you and your bags at curbside from the check-in counters and the gates at Kansas City International Airport.

Literally only a few dozen steps separate you and your bags at curbside from the check-in counters and the gates at Kansas City International Airport.

The unique narrow-ring design of the three terminals gives the late arriving passenger the edge on those last-minute dashes to check-in and the final sprint through security to the appropriate gate.

Early last month, I appreciated the 100 or fewer paces needed to accomplish the total task.

As usual, it seems I cut my departure a little too fine. The extra errand I squeezed in, plus unanticipated traffic, pushed the limit.

Fortunately my sister’s intimate knowledge of back roads allowed us to skirt a rush-hour jam and make it to the Air Canada terminal a whole half an hour before my flight was to leave.

No long corridors plus a check-in counter that served just the few neighbouring gates allowed me to get to my Toronto-bound flight with at least 10 minutes to spare.

As it turned out though, I was waving goodbye to one of my two bags. It, for some unfathomable reason, decided to take a detour to Chicago instead of following me to Toronto.

My thoughts though weren’t on my bag as my Air Canada Jazz flight taxied out towards the appropriate runway. Rather, I mused on the first time that I had come out to this airport.

I know the date exactly. It was October 23, 1972. Richard Nixon’s vice-president, Spiro T. Agnew, had come to open this sprawling 40-square-kilometre complex of runways, hangers, cargo facilities, giant 747 overhaul bays and passenger terminals.

It could have been the fact that this is one of the largest airfields in the United States, but more likely the vice-president showed up because it was just two weeks away from election day and this provided him with a great photo opportunity.

You may remember Agnew from his famous dismissals of critics with phrases like “nattering nabobs of negativism” or as an “effete corps of impudent snobs.”

I remember him as a fierce defender of the Nixon administration’s Vietnam War policies — the secret bombing of Cambodia, aerial defoliation with Agent Orange, attacks on civilian targets and on and on.

As part of the local McGovern presidential campaign team, I came out to the airport that day.

We hoped, along with the anti-war activists lining the long road in from the Interstate highway, to relay the message that the country had lost its way during the Johnson and Nixon years.

We hoped to convince at least some of the thousands gathered there that change was desperately needed.

Agnew smiled for the cameras, shook a few hands and left.

I managed to harangue Senator Bob Dole as he was leaving for a few futile minutes on the allegations of corruption and cronyism swirling around Nixon and his cabinet.

On the basis of that day, and the subsequent couple of weeks of frantic and increasingly disconsolate electoral work, it might have seemed that little was accomplished.

Nixon and Agnew swept to power again with an unprecedented number of Electoral College votes. The war continued.

However things did change. Agnew was forced out of office just a year later in October, 1973 in the face of tax evasion and money laundering charges.

The Watergate Scandal led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. And the war ended.

Sometimes we seem to have completely lost our way as a society. However we can’t lose heart.

In these times, we need to raise our voices even more. Change may seem elusive in the short run but the signs of its coming are always there.

On Thursday Yukon women will gather at the Elijah Smith Building at 5:30 p.m. for the annual Take Back the Night march followed by a supper at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.

Oh, by the way, my lost bag finally made its long way back to Whitehorse after a month of travel — to who knows where — last week.