By Jeff Kleman

A lot of people have been asking me to tell the story of all the crazy things that happened to us at our very first show working for Smart Retailer. At first I didn’t really want to, but the demand has been so high that I finally gave in…

The van started in -26 temperatures the morning of the flight. Due to our wonderful Wisconsin weather, I had 2 two straight flights get cancelled. Jerry Beyer and I got re-routed to Washington, D.C. and told that there was a 2 two-hour layover, before continuing on to Atlanta. But hey, we got to sit with former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan on the flight down.

During the 2 hour layover we hopped off the flight for a bite and a drink. We asked the flight attendant if we could leave our carry-on in the overhead bin, as we had prime spots. She said “fine” and off we went. After a leisurely lunch we strolled back to the gate and noticed that the plane was gone! Not to panic, we reasoned that the plane was re-fueling or de-icing or something like that. In about 20 minutes the plane was back. They opened the doors and here comes a hundred people getting off. Why would they sit on the plane all that time?

You guessed it. Different plane!

Now we realized that our carry-ons were gone (and winter jackets). Normally not a big deal, but we didn’t check any luggage and had only carry-ons… and by the way, Jerry’s car keys were in his jacket pocket. We quickly alerted the airport staff, they assured us that, “the bags will be waiting for you in Atlanta, as we’ve made a note of it.”

When we arrived in Atlanta, no bags, no jackets and no clues. “They aren’t here”, is all we heard. Maybe they are in Ohio, the plane’s final destination. Maybe in Dallas where all lost luggage goes, or maybe back to D.C. … but definitely NOT in Atlanta.

I called my wife to explain the situation, as it was her carry-on bag and they might contact her. My cell phone # was on the tag, but my phone never rang… not for 3 days. Upon arriving at the Atlanta airport, (for our flight back to Milwaukee) my wife called and said the bags turned up in D.C. She spent over an hour on the phone orchestrating their return to Milwaukee so we could get them in time.

When we arrived at the baggage claim office, a quick scan of the room and they were not there. No Green carry-on in sight. Upon further inspection, our coats (no one had mentioned finding them) were wrapped around the bags, and covered in duct tape.


My carry-on was still untouched, so at least now I don’t have to pack for this week’s trip to Chicago!