In March of 2003 my college paid for eleven members of the school newspaper to attend a journalism conference in Seattle, Washington. It was a four day conference that would lead right into the Sunday of Spring Break. I remember almost nothing about the conference itself, but I do remember having a great time in the city. During some of our sightseeing the Pike Place market I saw a chocolate frosted Texas Sized Donut. The same way a munchkin or donut hole fills the middle of a donut, this one was so big that a regular donut would fill the hole. I knew I had to have one.
After eating one of them with a friend or two, I thought that my mother would really get a kick out of this. I purchased another one and got it wrapped up in a to-go box. While preparing to fly back I was very concerned about the donut. During the entire six and a half hour flight from Seattle to Boston I sat with it on my lap, not trusting the overhead compartment during any turbulence.
We landed at 3:00 pm and split up into groups. My friend Laura and I were both heading towards South Station to catch the same train down the eastern seaboard, her to Philadelphia, and me to New Haven. This was the days before the ease of the Silver Line bus to the airport, so to get from Logan to South Station it meant riding the Airport shuttle to the blue line, switching at State Street to the Orange Line and then switching again at Downtown Crossing to the Red Line. To this day there is still no way to connect directly from Red to Blue, so needless to say, it was a complicated trek.
Laura and I entered the South Station concourse at 4:15. We had plenty of time to spare; our train did not depart until 5:25. As I put the donut down on a table my jubilation turned sour. I had been paying such close attention to the pastry and beating the clock that I completely lost track of my suitcase. I got separated from it somewhere along the journey and had no idea where. The logic of the situation began to inflate my mind – three different subway lines, not to mention the stations and the airport. I was about to start freaking out when my cell phone rang.
It was the head of security for the MBTA Blue Line. The good news was they had found my suitcase. The bad news was they were planning on blowing it up. Even while living over a year past the terrorism hyped days which followed 9/11, any abandoned suitcase on a busy means of public transportation would be viewed as a threat. Thankfully, the officials called my number, figuring that any true threat to America would not leave their real name and contact information on the luggage tag.
The man on the phone told me my suitcase was being held at Orient Heights, two stops past the airport. He said there was an office above the tracks and to find him there. Without thinking, I just ran for it. I left my backpack and donut with Laura and told her that I would be back in time. If I wasn't I told her to go ahead without me. There was very little thought put into that plan – what would she do with my things? Would she take them to Philadelphia with her or perhaps throw it out of the train when it stopped in New Haven?
I ran back to the red line, race back to the orange and again to the blue. Each second on the platform felt like 10 minutes. I kept fidgeting and checking my watch as if the trains would arrive faster based on my urgency. When each train pulled up I threw my arms in the air like I had thrown a touchdown. Each transfer made this seem more plausible, despite how quickly time was moving.
I arrived at Orient Heights at 4:46 and bounded up the stairs. The man in the office told me I was very fortunate to be getting the suitcase back and I nodded at a furious pace. There was a screen showing where all the blue line trains were and there was one pulling in to the station. He radioed the conductor and told him to wait for me as I franticly raced down the steps and on to the train.
My heart was beating and I was breathing heavy as I transferred at the same familiar locations one last time. Up and down stairs, taking a long hallway until I finally saw the headlights of my last Red Line train of the night. I made it back to South Station at 5:17, with 8 minutes to spare. I was sweaty and out of breath, but I had my suitcase in tow.
Three hours later I explained the harrowing tale to my mother and presented her with the prize. It was big enough to slice like a cake and we each had a piece. She said it tasted fine, which was code for “not worth the trouble.” Four years later I was back in Seattle with Lindy and we walked by the same bakery. This time I opted to pass on the donut after remembering all the trouble it caused me before.