Finally, at long last, I’ve taken the final step toward being a middle-aged female academic: I’ve bought a wheeled laptop case.
For years, I’ve carried my office in a bag: specifically, a cavernous shoulder tote I used to schlep my laptop, power cord, file folders, textbook, umbrella, spare pens, index cards, chalk, dry-erase markers, tissues, cough drops, chocolate, and a water bottle. I lugged this bag in addition to my regular purse and a Sachi lunch tote: walking to and from my car, I looked like a pack mule slung on all sides with bags. I’ve done this for years as I’ve commuted between two campuses, teaching out of my bag instead of an on-campus office. If something was worth having, you could find it in my bulging bag.
In the past, I’ve seen some of my colleagues gliding around campus with wheeled laptop cases as if they’d just arrived from the airport, but I’ve previously bridled against such practicality. Wheeled bags seemed so middle-aged. When I was a grad student, I carried everything in a shoulder bag, and even though it’s been a decade since I finished my PhD, I’ve fervently clung to this last sartorial vestige of my grad school days. Undergrads carry backpacks, grad students carry shoulder bags that could theoretically pass for enormous purses, and middle-aged academics trail wheeled luggage behind them. Although I was willing to leave behind my backpack days, I still clung to my enormous, purse-like tote.
But this year, my attitude shifted. At Curry College, I don’t have an office where I can stash (and lock up) my things, so if I want to take a stroll around campus between my classes and office hour, I have to lug everything with me. Yes, I could lock my bag in my car…but since the lot where I park isn’t exactly near the building where I teach, that still involves a lot of lugging, and who wants to limit their midday walks to schlepping your stuff to your car and back?
The solution? A McKlein rolling leather briefcase. My Sachi lunch tote piggybacks on top, and I can glide around campus with only my purse slung over my shoulder. Now that I’ve swallowed my pride and crossed the Rubicon toward middle-age, I’m wondering why I didn’t do so earlier. Inventing the wheel was a momentous moment in the evolution of human civilization, and embracing the wheeled laptop case is a similar improvement. Now that I’ve mapped the curb-cuts and accessible entrances on both of the campuses where I teach, carrying my things to and from my car, classes, and office is easy. Where once I was heavily burdened, now I roll.