Mark Davison in San Francisco – This is definitely the last in the saga of being "Bagless in San Fran" … promise. There was a message on my phone when I got back to my room tonight.
The trusty old red-and-black Targus bag has finally made it to San Francisco. And, miracle on miracle, there's nothing missing.
It's been a long day: six keynotes followed by a trip to HP's Labs in Palo Alto and a further eight presentations – and a peek at the original offices of the company founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett. They've been kept in pristine condition at the Labs since their occupants left the building.
The final drama of the lost bag at Heathrow's terminal from Hell – Terminal 5 – spun out this afternoon on San Francisco's famous dockside. Arriving at the evening's destination early, the hacks were given 40 minutes to wander around aimlessly before dinner on the San Francisco Belle – a beautiful stern-wheeler ship which chugs around the bay as diners while away the time eating drinking and, uhm, drinking.
Anyway, constantly being told that it would be "extremely chilly" on the water, I decided to walk down the wharf and buy a jacket or sweater of some sort. Shouldn't be a problem, I thought, as it's a major tourist flytrap and there should be back-to-back shops. I'm seldom wrong, some will tell you, but I couldn't have been more wrong on this one.
After spending nearly the whole 40 minutes we were allocated before regrouping, I finally hobbled/stumbled into a nondescript souvenir shop on Pier 39 – about 36 piers from my original destination. Realising I had a good chance of literally "missing the boat", I rapidly located the sweatshirts and jackes section. It wasn't hard – that was basically all they had in the shop apart from the must-have thimbles and tot glasses.
Scrabbling through the sweatshirts I soon realised while almost the entire stock was marked on sale – there wasn't even an XL among them, never mind a gut-corsetting XXL.
I bound – not really, it was more a Quasimodo limp – over to the racks of jackets. Two precious minutes wasted trying to find the right size. Almost at the end of my tether, I suddenly spotted two Xs and an L. Yes! There is a God.
Then I saw the colours – white and pink – obviously patterned for the fairer sex but, mind you, we're in San Francisco.
Using the excuse that I'd only wear it if desperately necessary, otherwise draping it over a forearm and claiming it as a "present for the missus", I paid my cash and made my way back to the San Francisco Belle's mooring.
Got back in time, too.
But, the Terminal 5 luck that has dogged me all trip ensured that it was windy and cold enough for the jacket being used. Unfortunately, my avoidance tactics were NOT of the Terminal 5 variety and it wasn't long before the South African contingent spotted me and made a point of making conversation with me. Long conversation … sniggering conversation.
They were all very understanding knowing my plight, but I've a sneaking suspicion that a photo is going to turn up somewhere.
Is there no end to the misery that Terminal 5 can heap on a man?