The Urban Everyday Bag
By Gypsy Trailblazer
Hello my friends, welcome back! Have you considered that the places we live, the way we commute, the daily decisions we make without much consideration, are all fundamental survival decisions we take for granted?
I grew up in a Big City. Everyone around me carried a bag everywhere they went, every day. This Everyday Bag was not gender specific; everyone carried a bag. By the time I left the Big City, dogs were carrying their own little packs!
The Everyday Bag is usually a backpack, messenger bag, or zippered tote. I say zippered tote because if it was not zippered you gave our friend The Pickpocket an invitation to test their skills. This bag was the key to your daily success. It contained an umbrella, a bandanna or scarf, a seasonal hat, sunglasses, spare pair of vision glasses (if needed), cash, water, snacks, a simple first aid kit with analgesics, a thermal blanket for the right season, a compact flashlight, scissors, window punch, and a face mask. You may lower your eyebrows, I will explain why urban folks carry some of these items.
In the urban environment, people often rely on mass transit to arrive at their destinations. In Big Cities, there is almost a daily disruption to the mass transit system that places someone in the elements as they wait for the next bus, train/subway, or cab, or if they will decide to walk to their destination. This is where the umbrella, bandanna/scarf, seasonal hat, and sunglasses are handy. The people that travel to far reaches of city limits on mass transit may be stranded for periods of time until alternate transportation arrives, making a thermal blanket key to staying warm in colder temperatures.
Buses and rail cars are built with an emergency latch for the windows. In theory, if you were not able to exit through the door, certain windows are designed to be pushed out creating an exit point. Depending on what event occurred, or your position within the bus or rail car, you may not be able to push a window to exit. A window punch is a thoughtful tool in our world of preparedness.
Post 911, two items were added to the Everyday Bag; the antiviral, disposable facemask and scissors. Following 911, the threat of an event that places hazardous particles in the air is very real, especially in Big Cities where building materials are old and toxic once airborne. As I write this, we are observing the effects of the Coronavirus; carrying a mask is not so uncommon these days.
Many Big Cities have issues with gangs attacking people on the streets with pocketknives, placing pocketknives on an illegal weapons list. After 911 pocket knives arrived on the TSA list of banned weapons. The legal, practical alternative? Scissors. Scissors can be legally carried as a tool and they double as a self-defense weapon.
There is one more item an Urbanite always has with them, what I like to call our Bag of Tricks; a mental assortment of skills, calculations, facts, geography, and dexterity. This data is almost ingrained into our DNA, so seamless we do not even realize we recalculated, shifted, and moved on because most of the time the unexpected is as easy as a side-step over a pothole to us.
Surprisingly, I still use my urban skills on a regular basis. Many of these items still reside in my purse, handy for any occasion. When I return to my old Big City to visit, or I go to a new Big City for vacation, my Bag of Tricks is ready for me to dip in to. Bus did not arrive as scheduled? I can read a transit map or app and walk to the next stop… Cash for an unexpected fare, a hat to keep the morning rain or afternoon sun off my head, snacks and water in case I have to sit and wait… just a regular day from my old urban life.
Oh, by the way, the TV shows and movie stereotypes are correct. Women do walk in comfortable shoes or running shoes in the Big City and change shoes at their destination. See you next time!
Thanks for reading...….Gypsy Trailblazer
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