Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Death of a Laptop Bag

I had a rude surprise this morning on the walk to the train -- my laptop bag sliding off my shoulder. Miraculously (especially for first thing in the morning) I was quick enough to snag it before it dumped my machine on the pavement. One of the metal rings connecting the shoulder strap to the bag had sheared off.

I will miss that bag. It was a freebie -- a token from my visit last June to ASCO, the truly enormous oncology meeting held that time in Atlanta. A seam for a fabric divider had blown a month or so ago, but otherwise the leatherette messenger bag was in good shape. It had just enough pockets to be useful, not so many as to invite me to lose things. It also became my interview bag & my networking bag while I was making the transition away from the old shop, so there are multiple sentimental attachments to it.

My previous bag was also a freebie, that time from the ASBMB meeting (the really huge biochemistry meeting, held in Boston that time) a few years back. It had sat in a closet for a while, extending its lifetime, but it eventually was too attractive. It was a great backpack style bag, with a water bottle pouch on the side (very useful!) and two main compartments. When I could start seeing the contents through the bottom, I realized the gig was up.

The bag before that actually survived its tour of duty, but only because it was suited for the task -- it was a nice L.L. Bean bag (!) my wife had given me, but the zipper went too far around -- fail to zip it completely and the zipper could work itself open, dumping contents all over. A few too many near-escapes of my laptop convinced me to find another bag.

The bag before that also was flawed, initially. It may have also been a freebie, but I think it was MLNM-provided. It's problem was again a weak snap clip that tried to loose the bag from my shoulder strap.

The bags before that have been lost to memory, but I think it ran about 1 per year, most worn to shreds.

I am hard on laptop bags. First, there is the laptop. Then, too many journals to be read on the train -- plus the periodic library book or paperback. Plus an assortment of bills & correspondence to deal with, some random printouts, etc. Often the cell phone and Palm Pilot are riding along, as well as the beloved Nano. A few key pharmaceuticals don't add much weight, but are critical -- there are those days you just need to stifle your histamine H2 receptors and COXs.

Somehow, I've been pretty lucky with the laptops themselves. There was one unfortunate case of the treacherous shoulder strap clip dumping the machine onto the sidewalk, triggering a crash of the hard drive -- with an unsaved PowerPoint, and a big chip in a corner of my last Millennium machine. The personal machine is missing the bezel from the DVD drive -- but it appears to have relied on Van Der Waals forces to begin with. I think I did once take out another hard drive, but in 9 years of laptop commuting it really wasn't a bad record.

So, for a few days I must carry my bag by the handles -- until they break. Maybe I'll actually get to a store. Given my track record, maybe I should skip Staples and go straight to the Army-Navy store.


Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be the first laptop ruined by a freebie laptop bag. I don't trust them at all, buying a real one is necessary.

such.ire said...

Yeah, I don't really trust freebie bags either. I bought a bag from STM, and I'm quite happy with it, as the fragile parts (like the shoulder strap attachments) are all stitched very well and made of metal.