Bag pernicketiness

by Suw on October 6, 2005

So I gave up on the delusion that I would ever be one of those women who need carry no more than a tiny little handbag, the sort that fit a purse and lipstick and perhaps a single, dainty housekey.
My keys alone wouldn't fit in one of those things. Where the hell would I put my laptop?
I've recently got somewhat fed up of the compromise too – having one slimish laptop bag that's not quite big enough to fit everything in, thus forcing me to also carry a handbag of the non-dainty sort for the overflow. Not good for the shoulders or sanity, that combination. Patricularly when said set of keys, recently grown to jailer's proportions, manages to get lost in both bags. Possibly at once. Hmm. Enanglement in a luggage-housekey array could be a fascinating new branch of quantum physics.
I am quite particular about my bags. Not that you'd believe it if you saw them, mind. I like to have lots of pockets so that I can segregate everything: there's the pocket for my keys, there's the pocket for my pens, there's the pocket the useless bit of paper I've been carrying round for three months without fully understanding why. Bags with no pockets, where purse sits upon phone upon notepad upon power supply just fill me with the night horrors. But bags with sufficient pockets are hard to come by.
So I started my search up again. The search that never truly ceases, and the unsuccessful results of which lie buried at the back of the wardrobe or hidden inside each other in a suitcase in the loft like particularly floppy Russian dolls.
I remember seeing what looked like a nice bag in an Apple shop in Holborn, so went to take a look. Nice bag. Pockets. Not too big. Designed to keep your laptop safe or, more importantly, my laptop safe. Decided after much tooing and froing and discussion with the sales assistant (who showed patience of saintlike magnitude) to buy it. Because it wasn't as big as the bigger one, or as enormous as the rucksack version, and it looked quite, dare I say it, dainty compared to some of the monstrosities I've seen over the years.
So I bought it. Took it proudly back to the office. Disembagulated all my posessions and then set about reembagulating them. (Note invention of two new words there. Three if you count the root 'embagulation' – the act of putting something into a bag with pockets.)
Realised that if it ain't gonna all fit, it simply ain't gonna all fit, no matter how cunningly you try to pack it. See, that's the problem with nice padded bags. They are full of padding, thus making them an anti-TARDIS – smaller on the inside than they look. (Also not able to move through space and time except for in the usual manner.)
One slightly embarassed trip back to the shop later and I am now the proud owner of a large, well padded, moderately pocketed laptop backpack. The kind of bag that tells you that a girl means business. And that her laptop is worth more to her than mere dainty aesthetics.
I like to think that it gives me an air of mystery, as if I might be going away somewhere exciting and exotic and preferably tropical. I always seem to end up in Marble Arch instead, though.
Must work on that.

Anonymous October 6, 2005 at 11:50 pm

A friend of mine in Melbourne bought a rather nifty-in-a-geeky-way backpack a year or so ago. It had dozens of pockets and compartments (enough for a 12″ PowerBook, a decent camera, and an assortment of PDAs and smartphones), and also had ports going through walls to run cables through (he used them for headphones). I forgot the make, but I think it was a 3-letter acronym, and cost the equivalent of about ?65.
I should probably ask him what it was and buy one; currently I've got a small backpack (of the sort that zips onto the front of a large backpack; they're issued with Australian passports, I believe) and a larger school-style backpack that cost about ?5 and has hand-added padding inside (it holds a MIDI keyboard and laptop (I used to use it when cafe-sitting in Melbourne) and has the added advantage of looking pretty unlikely to have anything valuable inside).

Anonymous October 7, 2005 at 5:06 am

Thanks Suw,
for making me start the day with a smile because of reading this posting.

Anonymous October 7, 2005 at 6:56 am

I have a theory that the interior of any container shrinks on contact with light, due to quantum interference. Over the years I've noticed that once I unpack something, I can never get the contents back in, EVEN if I pack it EXACTLY the same way it was originally packed.
This quantum interference is also responsible for the phenomenon that if you leave an empty, half-opened suitcase anywhere in your flat, you will eventually find a cat hiding in it.

Anonymous October 7, 2005 at 8:24 am

This quantum interference is also responsible for the phenomenon that if you leave an empty, half-opened suitcase anywhere in your flat, you will eventually find a cat hiding in it.

Doesn't seem to work for me.

Anonymous October 7, 2005 at 12:20 pm

As long as the air of Mystery doesn't make you the target of the subway police.

Anonymous October 8, 2005 at 12:51 pm
Anonymous October 9, 2005 at 4:38 pm

This particular quandary applies equally to people of the male persuasion too, at least in my case anyway. With cellphone, Palm, keys, bulky wallet, sunglasses, pens, ever-present notebook, etc. – even the most accomodating jacket and trousers are going to look shapeless and lumpy without some kind of embagulation event. Chuck in a laptop, a novel, a couple of daily newspapers, a bottle of water, iPod, swiss army knife, and sundry other essential “never-know-when-you-might-need-them” gadgets, and the choice of a decent bag becomes a critical decision.
I can't bring myself to do the full-on European male handbag thing, to keep all the small essentials (keys, pens, wallet) tidy and handy. So inevitably these bits and pieces have to find their home in my briefcase somewhere. The problem then is that most fancy, stylish, big enough briefcases simply don't protect the laptop properly. Or don't have enough pockets to subdivide all the necessary gadgets and gewgaws and make them easy to retrieve when needed. Or if they do have all of those things, they're so darn heavy that even unstuffed they're uncomfortable to schlep around.
I'm currently risking severe laptop crunch by compromising with an ancient but wonderfully functional Land's End bag (a freebie from one of the old Showcase conferences). Tons of useful pockets; plenty roomy enough to hold everything; light and comfortable to carry.
I'm lusting after one of these, though:
Maybe when I've got money again…

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