Why I Will Not Take Off My Backpack

Backpacks on the subwayThe New York subway system has been attempting to teach riders to be more courteous. Great, as we have an often undeserved reputation for being rude riders. But the most ill-conceived idea involves backpacks.

Backpacks are a practical way to carry books, work supplies and lunch. They’re kinder to the spine than a heavy tote or messenger bag that causes an uneven distribution of weight. Here’s why I won’t take mine off on the train:

  1. Floors are dirty. That filth will transfer to your clothes when you put the pack back on. And since it’s behind you, you’ll have no idea just how bad it is until you take off your coat.
  2. It’s the same size whether it’s on the floor or above it.
  3. People will trip on the straps that are resting on the floor.
  4. The backpack makes it harder for purse snatchers to grab a pocketbook’s shoulder strap. (That’s my theory and I stand behind it.)
  5. A backpack on the floor is easier to steal than one that is on your body.
  6. In the Seventies we had a problem with men who would rub up against women on crowded trains. You don’t hear much about that any more but I’ll bet that someone with a backpack would make it harder for a “leaner” to make physical contact.

Generally, the system is safe. A bajillion people use it every workday and sometimes bring their children. Courtesy and kindness happen.

But clearly, the people who run the “largest transportation agency in North America” don’t use the system that they run.  They’re the same people who responded to the recent spate of slashings by reminding commuters not to fall asleep on the subway.

Granted, sleeping is public isn’t safe but  tired workers sometimes can’t help it. Many years ago, when I was working my way through school, I fell into such a deep sleep on the train that a woman woke me up at the last stop – my stop – as gently as she would wake her own daughter. So no, let’s not judge the exhausted.

But the clueless folks running the system? Fair game.

5 thoughts on “Why I Will Not Take Off My Backpack

  1. Ah..you’ve never been whacked by a backpack on the El or Bus? It’s usually done to me by a young twenty something who has no idea where his back pack ends and the rest of the world begins. I’ve been almost knocked over before. Perhaps this is what they were addressing? Backpack people turning quickly and almost knocking you over? It is almost always a young man that does this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hear hear! I had to pin this to my Pinterest travel tips board because it is full of good sense. I love the quote ‘ let’s not judge the exhausted’. I have often had a doze on the London Underground when heading home after a late night show. Obviously you check to see if this is a safe call first. A backpack is the only solution to city life and the floors of trains are not always the cleanest place to put them! I wonder if the London transport company will try offering us these tips – if they do I will be forewarned! ps I hear you on reason number 6!! Awesome post Linda!


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