Once a year, twice is better, it makes sense to go through your stuff. Otherwise you can become submerged in things you may use and clothes you might wear.

I found an old suitcase in a closet. It was black and midsized with a six-inch strip torn around one of the zippers. I had never seen the suitcase before and I wasn’t sure how it had gotten there.

There was nothing wrong with the suitcase but how many suitcases do you need? Take more than one on a trip and they penalize you, charging you and giving you that “you’re bringing two suitcases” look.

The “Atlantic” had a luggage tag fastened to the handle with a piece of pliable, clear plastic and listed Mammoth as its place of origin. Then it hit me, “Mammoth.” This was Dad’s.

“Dad’s.” I have very few possessions of his left because I’ve discovered that a watch, a puffy, old down parka and an address book are fine, but fine as they are, they aren’t Dad.

Not Dad, but there was nothing wrong with being thorough, so the first thing I did was check for money. Dad liked to stuff a little cash here and there. Maybe luggage cash was not big cash but right now, even $20 in cash would brighten a winter day.

There is nothing like finding money in a suitcase to cheer a guy up. It wasn’t Dad, but it would have been Dad’s money and if you can’t have one, you might as well have the other.

There was no money. Not even loose change. Darn, Dad, you were traveling light.

If there wasn’t any money, how about something else? Maybe a message. I’d take a grocery list if it was written in Dad’s own hand, an elegant cursive.

I searched once, then again. There is no such thing as a completely empty suitcase so I searched all the pockets and the pockets within the pockets.

The second time around, I pulled out something small and hard.

It was a Leatherman, the modern-day incarnation of a Swiss Army knife. This one had a nail file, hooked nail cleaner, small knife and a pair of large sturdy scissors.

The scissors were impressive in a way that scissors on Swiss Army knives are often not. They looked as if they could cut sheet metal, burlap sacks or light wire. “The only scissors you will ever need,” the ad might read.

A few days earlier I had zip-tied the straps that hold my paddleboard to the top of the car when traveling. Without zip ties, the straps chatter making conversation and an amicable relationship challenging between a driver and his passenger.

Once at the destination, the zip ties have to be cut in order to free the board from the car. Cutting requires a sharp knife or a sturdy pair of scissors. Until I found the Leatherman, I hadn’t made an allowance for either one.

I had now. Although I hadn’t found money, I’d like to think this was better. A Leatherman whose message was implicit:

“Use this. Have fun. Wish I could be there.”

I will. I have. I do, too.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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