Why I’m 50 and Carrying a Backpack

My shoulder hurts. Not from doing something dramatic like playing sports or lifting heavy objects. My shoulder has frozen up from lack of use.

While it’s been eight months since the injury, the hauling of paraphernalia like laptops through airports has caused some new pain. So I bought a backpack. The backpack would rest on my back, avoiding the downward tug on my shoulder. Plus, I would look cool.

I packed everything in my new, modern briefcase. Laptop, files, make-up, wallet, sunglasses, and vitamins. Each item had its own little zippered compartment. Nice.

On my first day of travel since the big purchase, I arrived at the check-in counter, and the peppy US Airways employee (sarcasm) asked for my identification. “Sure,” I said, smiling confidently. I opened the front zipper, where I was sure I had put my driver’s license. Nope. I unzipped the next compartment. No luck. I went for the bigger zippered compartment that held my make-up and wallet. Nothing. My hair began to blow from the sighs of the large woman behind me.

After frantically checking three more compartments, I finally found my driver’s license. The US Airways employee shoved a boarding pass at me, and I, in turn, shoved it inside a compartment of the backpack and ran for the security gate.

I walked hurriedly through the Disneyland-like maze, smiled at the energetic security guy, and proceeded to try and locate my boarding pass. Somehow, I had forgotten which compartment I had put it in two minutes earlier. The repetitive, buzzing sound of the zippers attracted the attention of one man who must have been remembering the sounds of his previous evening with the bleached blond who flanked him.

M boarding pass finally recovered, I grabbed two gray security trays and proceeded to unload my laptop with no further incident. Packed up and ready to get to my gate, I put my right arm through the backpack. I swung it to my left side with great force so my frozen shoulder could reach it. That’s when I smacked the man behind me. He was not amused.

Later that day, I stood on the tarmac awaiting my luggage. As the cart rolled in front of me with its treasures, a man beside me tried to knock me aside to get his bag first. I swung to right, making sure my backpack hit his arm. He stumbled 3 inches to the left, and I grabbed my suitcase first.

The backpack was redeemed.