Some people collect coins, stamps or travel souvenirs, I collect boxes and containers. I delight in the process of selecting what to put in a container, then choosing where to place it.
The same organizational drive extends to my portable belongings, things I carry in my purse and tote bag.
I’m happy with my everyday purse. It’s a Le Sac I bought in Phoenix three years ago. A carrier-style bag, it has a convertible strap that can be worn long, over the shoulder and across the chest, or pulled through two loops to convert to a backpack. It has several sections and zippered pockets so I can organize my girly purse stuff.
On workdays, I also carry a tote bag. This hard-working bag holds my reading glasses, sun glasses, book, water bottle, lunch and snacks, a reusable shopping bag, tissue packets, hand sanitizer, lotion, lip balm, pens and assorted papers. Sometimes it holds gloves, earmuffs, or an umbrella. A couple of times a week, it carries a bag or two of frozen organic waste. I’m not kidding. We don’t have organic waste disposal in my condo yet and we do have a very comprehensive environmental program in the office.
Two years ago, I bought this bag.
It’s a Roots bag, an impulse buy at Winner’s (a discount store like Marshalls) for a bargain price! It fit most of my tote-bag criteria and it was stylish, but it had two drawbacks. (1) It was too long (18”) but made of soft quilted nylon so I could smush it on my lap when riding the bus or subway – and (2) it had only two exterior pockets that closed in middle with a Velcro strip, leaving the sides accessible to slip things in and pull them out.
After a number of washings and a lot of wear, the quilting in the bottom became twisted and the Velcro snagged at the nylon. I patched it and carried on, but I knew I had to choose a successor.
These are the features I require in a tote bag:
- a zipper closing
- outside and inside pockets or sections
- handles securely attached to the body, long enough to fit comfortably over my shoulder, but not so long that the bag touches the ground (a shoulder strap is nice too)
- in a dark colour – preferably black – and water repellant, and
- it must be washable.
On my way home from work one evening, I decided to pop into Winner’s. Bizarrely, the store was closed due to a power outage. I really needed to go to the bathroom so I crossed the street to an underground shopping arcade connected to the subway. Adjacent to the facilities was a luggage store, so I went in to take a look.
I spotted a likely tote bag candidate and picked it up for inspection. Immediately, a diminutive saleslady came along and began praising its virtues. She opened the main compartment and removed the paper stuffing, pointed out the pockets and sections and organizational features. It had two neat zippered outer pockets with subdivided sections, and two end pockets with an elasticized edge that could ‘hold a litre bottle of water’. The price was $79 with 20% off “today only”.
I hesitated, and picked up another bag, priced at $99. Same routine with the saleslady. She was very diplomatic, showing no preference but pointing out one or two differences between the bags.
A $100 prepaid MasterCard – a Christmas gift from the boss – was burning a hole in my purse so I thought, Why not? I chose the less expensive bag because I liked its pockets better. Still, I worried I’d have buyer’s remorse, so I didn’t use it right away.
As soon as I got home, I couldn’t resist. I pulled everything out of my old bag and arranging it in my new bag. It was a challenge, finding just the right spot for each item. I picked up the fully-loaded bag – and – I was in love!
How can this be, I marveled? I held the bag, hefted it, turned it, opened and closed compartments, unzipped and zipped pockets. It had all my stuff in it but there was still plenty of space left. Plus, the bag felt lighter in weight than my old bag when it held all the same stuff!
The next morning, I loaded up the bag and headed out the door. I felt 10 pounds lighter myself. The bag didn’t drag my arm down, or wrap around my knees as I hurried down the hall. It was compact, neatly organized and arranged, smartly fitted and light weight.
The. Perfect. Bag.