We recently returned from a trip to Europe so I could meet some of my colleagues in Paris, London, Frankfurt, and Nuremberg. We lost our luggage when we decided to fly directly to London instead of trying to get to Paris when we missed our connection. We spent four days wearing the same clothes and hoping to see our luggage. It became very depressing on Thursday morning (having left Wednesday) when we realized we would probably not get it at all.
We complained quite a bit to each other and it affected our moods and the way we felt about the trip as a whole. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon and Saturday that we began to enjoy it a little. It was supposed to be a ten year anniversary and birthday trip because we left on Lauren’s birthday and we don’t have plans for August 12 this year since I’ll be at BYU.
Today, almost a month after we arrived back home, I was reading a book I’ve been chugging through for about a year or so. It’s The Journal of Jesse N. Smith, Six Decades in the Early West. I opened the book to read this from May 30, 1863:
My trunk was placed in the baggage car by a porter who reported it marked for Grimsby. At Retford I changed cars but did not go personally to look after my trunk. At Ulcery changed again, here my trunk went missing. As soon as I reached Grimsby the station master kindly telegraphed for it to Retford. Walked down to the docks; dined at the Royal Docks Hotel. Weighed 171 pounds (wouldn’t that be nice!). Returned to the station; the operator said my trunk was not at Retford, but would be telegraphed for from there to London. Waited for the 9:15 train. Still no tidings. Returned to the hotel and took lodgings. Meanwhile, the steamer I expected to take, sailed.
The next day, May 31, he wrote:
Called on one Isaac Freeman, a Pole in the employ of a forwarding company with whom I had become acquainted on former visits here. He assured me my luggage would come all right. Walked with him around the harbor; being near the railroad, a train came sweeping around a curve. The station master was on the engine; he beckoned, Freeman ran up and was informed that my trunk was on the train. We hastened up to the station; the trunk was there. I was glad to get it, for it contained papers of great value to me. Here I must wait till Wednesday for the next steamer.
It appears that this was a pretty major inconvenience for him since he had to wait three days to catch the next steamer. Yet, there wasn’t a single word of complaint. In fact, he complained more about the tobacco smoke on the boat when he did finally go, “annoyed by passengers who kept the cabin reeking with tobacco smoke” and “3 1/2 hours by rail, during which I endured a general smoking in the car.”
I enjoy catching a glimpse of what life was like for a missionary in 1863—130 years before I went on my mission to Europe. I can learn from ‘Uncle Jesse’ to complain less and work harder.