Backbreaking work for modern men and women

November 20, 2005|By SUSAN REIMER

There is much hue and cry over the heavy backpacks schoolchildren are required to carry, but frankly I am worried about my husband.

The poor man leaves the house each day loaded down like a Sherpa guide leaving for Mount Everest.

He tells me that when he arrives at work, he stands beside his trunk and hoists his bags onto his shoulders in a way meant to balance their weight on each side of him.

He then makes the long walk to his desk in Frankenstein fashion, sliding first one foot and then the other.

I tell him he should carry a single, extra-large backpack in order to save his spine. But I think a backpack would end up being one more bag he carries.

He has a bag for his laptop computer, a bag holding the notes for whatever story he is working on right now, another bag holding the notes for stories he has worked on in the past or may work on in the future. And a bag holding his gym clothes.

He carries all of these bags on spec.

In case there is a snowstorm or some other calamity and he has to work at home, he has what he needs to write his sports stories.

In case he is overwhelmed by a sudden urge to go to the gym, he has what he needs for that, too.

I am not making fun of him because I have just as much baggage. (More, my children would say.)

The difference is, I also carry my lunch in a cute monogrammed canvas tote that my daughter gave me for my birthday, and he goes to the company cafeteria with his guy friends.

And, of course, I carry a purse and he does not. Not technically, anyway.

Everywhere you look these days, you will find people carrying much more than that slim attache case that was supposed to distinguish the professional man from the blue-collar working man and his lunch pail.

Everyone is carrying a collection of those microfiber totes slung over their shoulders, ready to leave for Paris at a moment's notice, I guess.

The less stylish and graceful among them look like Jerry Lewis playing the role of the hapless bellhop in a movie with Dean Martin.

Speaking of luggage, the cross-pollination of work and travel has produced the briefcase on wheels with the retractable handle. Talk about synergy.

In the age of laptops and paperless paperwork, I wonder what is in all those bags.

Non-negotiable government bonds? A curling iron? Burglary tools? Leftovers in Tupperware?

They already make a tote bag for the top of your van - a microfiber carry-all to replace those hard-sided portable sheds that everyone used to strap to the roof.

I fear that one day they will make a microfiber tote the size of my van, and my husband will be filling it up with his life and carrying it with him from work to home and back again.

Our tote bags carry our secrets, too, I think.

I bet the gym clothes don't come out at work any more often than the work comes out at home.

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