Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Knapsack

So, there I was on the city bus, sitting in an aisle seat which is not my preference.  At the next stop, several people boarded, all with knapsacks on their backs.  The knapsacks varied in size, and I supposed, in weight.  One possessed zippered pockets, another had a mesh pocket for a water bottle.  Their bulk surpassed a laptop bag or a briefcase or even a woman’s handbag.  As each person passed me, each knapsack bumped my head.  But one person sat opposite me on the aisle, slinging off his knapsack while seated and hitting the woman in the head next to him in the window seat.

Knapsacks are everywhere.  Young kids carry them for their lunches, school books, homework, and whatever else their parents want to send with them out into the world.  Teens carry them – both boys and girls – to school.  It’s rare to see a teen girl with a handbag.  Even adults carry them now, usually for computers, work, and other things they need from the office to do their work at home.  Knapsacks have turned us into nomads.  We must carry more and more things with us and therefore need the knapsacks in which to put those things.

Their bulk makes knapsacks obnoxious to those in close proximity and unwieldy for the carrier.  I don’t enjoy being hit in the head with them on the bus, or pushed against the wall when someone doesn’t take it off.  I swear, some knapsack wearers forget they are on their backs and their own size has nearly doubled so they cannot occupy bus seats or slip through the doors.  I think if you want to use a knapsack, you need to take a one-evening class in knapsack courtesy.  People need to take them off before they board buses. 

I have decided that I will not become a knapsack owner and wearer.  For years, I’ve used tote bags to carry what I need – shoes in winter, lunch, files and notebooks, something to read on the bus – and I continue to carry a handbag for more personal items and my wallet.  The handbag I currently carry is worn brown leather with a shoulder strap so it hangs just to my waist, the perfect length.  It has two zippered main interior sections, two zippered smaller exterior pockets, and a skinny pocket on one end.  I love this leather shoulder bag.  I bought it over 12 years ago at T J Maxx for $50.  I’ve been looking all over for the last two years for one as close to it as I can find to replace it.  I refuse to succumb to becoming a nomad with a knapsack.

Why is it so difficult to find the kind of handbag that I’m looking for?  This has flummoxed me.  When I began my search, I thought it’d be easy to find a similar handbag large enough for me, made of leather, simple in design but stylish, and for a reasonable price.  But those who design and manufacture handbags seem to believe that women want something different each year, and the styles have changed dramatically.  Even the company that made my beloved shoulder bag no longer makes that design.  They’re idiots! 

But this reflects a general trend in consumer goods.  Old is bad, new is good.  Different is better.  What’s worked in the past is out even though consumers would probably buy it again because it worked. 

The trend in handbags this year seems to be satchel-like bags with two handle straps, one big compartment inside but several exterior pockets, especially one for a cell phone.  Do men design these bags?  Are they trying to perpetuate the stereotype of women being disorganized and carrying around handbags full of a jumble of make-up and junk?  Or is it that more and more women are carrying knapsacks and don’t need handbags to organize their stuff?

I suspect that if I knew the answers to those questions, I might be able to make a lot of money with a new handbag design that combined the organization and roominess of a knapsack with the style of a handbag.  Oh, wait!  I’m already carrying one of those wonderful handbags that I bought over 12 years ago….

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