Joco Diversions

Even a short trip can hit a snag

Special to The Star

My husband and I had one of those “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” experiences. Except it wasn’t exactly our hearts we left; it was clothes. And the place was nowhere near the Golden Gate Bridge, but in the middle of Iowa. Other than these slightly altered lyrics, we found ourselves at one with Tony Bennett.

It was a purposeful weekend getaway with a one-night hotel stay somewhere just off Interstate 80. Specifically, we had traveled three hours north to attend a dreamy, bucolic hilltop wedding of our dear friends’ handsome son and his beautiful bride.

Though Iowa’s nearby, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only skirted its edges. It seems every time I head in that direction, MCI swallows me first and I end up far away in not-Iowa. So I was pleased to finally discover how the state’s gently rolling hills offer postcard-perfect vistas.

What a treat to take in its sweet combination of lush green lands speckled with timeless barns and white farmhouses.

I was equally pleased the journey seemed to work out so well, because new places plus highways plus weddings just beg for some unwanted snags. But our trip was so glitch-free, I proclaimed aloud as we were almost home, “It all went so smoothly. We didn’t get lost on that back road maze. The wedding was sublime. We caught up with friends. Even our hotel stay was flawless.”

On and on I listed how seamlessly it all unfolded, including our quick, impulsive detour to see an actual covered bridge of Madison County. (When in Rome.)

Then again, at that moment I was a little disappointed nothing rustled the perfectly aligned cornfields of our itinerary. I was hoping with 32 hours of being an Iowa rookie I’d stumble on some dysfunction, which in my business is material.

If you build it, trouble will come.

It turned out life didn’t disappoint after all. Once we were settled back home Sunday night, I sat down to look at the trip photos.

At one point a friend had grabbed my phone and took a shot of me and my husband beneath a big ol’ shade tree. I liked how my dude’s shirt remained relatively crisp-looking for a summer day. And I marveled at how my new dress actually fit. (Being tall, it’s rare to find an off-the-rack frock with a waistline landing in the right place. Or at least close enough.)

Finally, a go-to dress, I thought.

It was that moment my brain went zoink. I shouted across the room: “WE FORGOT OUR CLOTHES!” Neither one of us recalled leaving the hotel with the garments we carried on hangers. We marched out with only with our duffel bags and the smug looks of people who rigorously inspect their rooms before departure.

This is us on any trip: “Get the iced tea from the mini-fridge! Check the hook behind the bathroom door! Look on the desk and under the bed!” We’ve always been so proud to never leave behind even a sock.

But for some reason that morning neither one of us checked the closet. This might have been a classic sociology textbook case of “diffusion of responsibility.” One person assumes the other person is handling things.

And darn it, that dress fit (almost) perfectly, plus my husband’s shirt was a fave. I immediately called the hotel. “Yep, we found slacks, a shirt and a dress in room 209.”

The good news is, just like with apps, there’s a “dot com” for everything. The hotel hooked us up with, which quickly handled the return shipping of our forgotten items. Their tagline (which would bring Tony Bennett to tears) is: “We retrieve what you leave.”

That’s accurate in a material sense, but when I opened the UPS box I was unable to find my dignity anywhere.

Reach Denise Snodell at or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell