Anyone who’s ever met me in person could probably understand why I sympathize with old bags.
Recently, I was strongly urged to upgrade the lunch bag I had used for years to a newer model. I’ve packed and brought my own lunch to work for decades, beginning long before the recessionista fashionistas made it trendy. Somewhere during that time, I acquired a simple yellow cloth sack with the then-innovative feature of a Velcro strip. The shapeless design allowed me to cram it full of sandwiches, cookies, fruit and cereal bars, then stuff that into my equally decrepit “briefcase”.
The sack looks like this …
… and the briefcase looks like this …
I would’ve been perfectly happy using neither of these accessories if I could’ve figured a better way to carry around my stuff. A good friend from my college days was famous for toting many of his worldly possessions around in a crisp, brown grocery bag. He and I were reporters together on the student newspaper. He would hike off across the Quad for an interview with the executive vice president carrying his notebook, pens, pocket dictionary and who knows what else in a fully packed sack, hoisted high on his chest. It looked like he’d stopped off on his way home from Albertson’s to grill the dean about unfair treatment of certain campus organizations, then offer him a stalk of celery to show there were no hard feelings.
I’ve considered simply using my pockets. Crushing a peanut butter sandwich in your pants for half the day actually changes the texture in a favorable way, infusing the bread with jelly and rendering the otherwise pedestrian meal panini-like. You just have to be prepared to explain to your coworkers the occasional presence of what looked like a blood stain in your right buttock.
But I opted for the above-pictured yellow and black ensemble, and they served me well for many years. Then, about a month ago, my wife noticed an irresistible offer at the local organic food store. With any $5 purchase, you could get a free Eco-Guardian Enviro-Sak. It had three strips of Velcro, two of which attached to each other and the third one running along the base in case you cared to collect burrs.
“Look, it’s really nice,” my wife said, and she was right. As you can see in the picture below, it has enough structure to allow it to stand unsupported, and a bright blue design with a splash of yellow and the word “Yum!” scrawled across that.
She was even kind enough to write my name on the top flap, just in case it or I got lost. All I had to do now was fill it full of lunch-style goodies, and I’d be ready for my first day of second grade.
Reluctantly, I tossed my trusty Old Yeller into the garbage and joined the 21st century. That first morning, I tried to cram the new bag into the briefcase, as I had done with the old one, but it just wouldn’t fit. I folded and twisted and shoved to the best of my ability, and yet the recyclable plastic frame was not flexible enough. I had to dangle it along side my briefcase as I walked into the office.
“Cool sack,” commented the production coordinator. “Hey, I’ll trade you my baloney sandwich if your mom gave you Lunchables today.”
I suffered through the derision and mockery for several more mornings until I realized it was curbside garbage pickup day and I was about to say goodbye to my old yellow bag forever. Early that morning, while it was still dark, I rummaged through the rollout bin and rescued the old bag. I haven’t begun to use it again; it’s just nice to know it’s stashed safely in my underwear drawer should I ever decide to return to a simpler time.
Then, just about a week ago, the office park where I work had its annual tenant appreciation day. In addition to plying us with hamburgers and potato salad, they offered a souvenir giveaway. It looked like this …
I think it’s supposed to be the 5G of lunch bags, though it could just as easily serve as luggage for a five-week business trip to The Hague. It has zippers, it has mesh netting, it has an insulated interior and it has what looks like shoelaces strapped across the top, where I guess you can cram anything that couldn’t fit on the inside. It even has our company logo emblazoned on a nylon strip across the front.
A lot of my coworkers are crazy about the thing, but I just can’t stand the thought of yet another giant leap forward in technology so soon after I’m barely comfortable with my Enviro-Sak. I feel like I’m living in one of those rapidly emerging cultures of Asia, where half a generation ago nobody even had a landline phone, and now everyone’s walking the streets with the latest in wireless.
I’m keeping the insulated super bag handy, since Thanksgiving is just around the corner and — who knows? — maybe I’ll want to prepare turkey and all the fixin’s at my desk if I have to work that day. I could even bring a few family members along, secured safely in the side pockets.
I’ll catch a glimpse of my old yellow bag in the dresser as I’m getting ready for work each morning, and think of the good times we shared together. I don’t want to be so old-fashioned as to revert to those fond memories for everyday use. Still, it’s nice just knowing it’s there if I ever want to relive the glory days.
Maybe I can fashion them into a pair of “memory” socks, like some people do with quilts, if I can figure a way to keep the Velcro off my heel.