Everyone say a prayer now …
August 17th, 2013, 9pm in Accra, Ghana
Oh, look. Here they come. Finally, we think in unison.
Everyone vie now for a front-row seat. It's a fact: the first person to see the suitcase owns the suitcase.
Six, seven, eight arrive, then nothing. What? Where are the rest?
Looming large above claim windows, shadows of men bathed in a sickly red light move around outside but no bags. No bags for you. Or me. Any of us.
We do our shuffle to the bag gods. Two left feet then three right means your bag made it through Heathrow. Check our watches. Refresh our Twitter streams — oh, wait, no data in this country. Well, yes, data, but mama didn't raise no boy to spend $20 US on a megabyte. No, sir.
Five sad bags remain on the conveyor, around and around. Together we cry: what a waste. Their owners not even here. But we're here. Like bald men lamenting the travesty that is a perfect head of hair on a convicted murderer.
Then, suddenly, another spurt — more this time. A jackpot of bags. Daniel Day-Lewis cries out in joy. The jockeying intensifies.
Around the bag straightener a gaggle materializes. Straighten my bag, bag straightener man. Bribes to you if you'll make the next bag ours.
For what seems like hours he doesn't. Not our, not ours, nope, nope. And then, maybe? Yes. It could be. Looks like it. Eyes tracking it around the bend, down the straightaway. Take your eyes off for a second and it's guaranteed to be gone. A ... little ... farther ... and ... yes. Ours. Knew it. Could spot you anywhere.
Off the belt, onto the cart, and away we go. So long, best of luck, we'll send a postcard from just beyond customs.