I'd seen it a few times during recent travels.
I'm lugging my 37-pound, black leather, businessman computer bag through the airport terminal, one shoulder hanging a good four inches closer to the ground than the other, when I'm overtaken by some idiot in a business suit and long coat with a college book bag strapped to his back.
Sure, I might be struggling with curvature of the spine while he skips along at a jaunty pace, but I look more professional. People will see me and say to themselves: "What a professional businessman." They'll see him and say: "Class was over twenty years ago, Skippy. Sell the book bag and get a briefcase."
Secretly, however, I envied Skippy.
He made it to his connecting flight free of pain. He carried his evenly distributed load on his back, freeing his hands for more important tasks like carrying a vanilla latte or a pretzel. And if he needed to relieve himself, he didn't have to worry about finding a urine-free spot on the men's room floor to place his bag. All he'd have to do is unzip and let it fly!
Meanwhile, the retractable strap from my bag cut into my shoulder. The bag bounced awkwardly around my waist and nearly decapitated a small child who got too close. In the plane, the puffed up monster barely fit into the overhead compartment.
During my last trip to Ohio, as more and more backpacks passed me by, I reached for my computer bag and felt an uncomfortable tugging sensation in my left forearm. It hurt for the remainder of the trip and several weeks afterward. During a routine physical, my doctor suggested I likely pulled something lifting the computer bag. That was all the excuse I needed.
Just a week or so later we were in Target and I purchased a Swiss Army travel backpack with a laptop pocket, and a media pocket, and a pocket for my pens, and a pocket for notebooks, and a pocket for miscellanous items, and two side mesh pockets for drinks.
All pocketed out, I transferred my business travel items from the computer bag to the backpack. Walking this morning through RDU Airport, then Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and then Columbus International Airport, I felt liberated. I breezed by stodgy old travelers with their antiquated brief cases and computer bags like a dart.
At RDU, I carried a bagel in one hand and an orange juice in the other. At Charlotte, I carried my notebook in one hand and a pen in the other. And at Columbus, I entered the men's room and relieved myself without having to put my bag down in a puddle of pee.
Change can be good.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler