Feb 05 2007

Requiem for a Bag

Posted by J. Craig Canada in Homeless

It was a good bag, but the wheel had fallen off, and the concrete had worn through the frame and my hand was going numb from dragging it. Probably the kind of numbness that means it’s damaging the nerve.

I meant to replace it earlier, like Friday. But events conspired against that. And when I did resolve to get a new one, I was at the edge of The Mall, and would have had to drag it from one end of the mall to the other (we’re talking about a mile), and then another mile across concrete and pavement to the little strip mall where Ross’s is, where I’d resolved would be the best place to get a replacement.

As it was, I saw something for $60 on the way in a place called Urban Outfitter’s, and while it wasn’t what I wanted, resolved it would do, and whatever I would save by dragging the old bag another mile would more than be offset by the aggrivation. And possible damage to whatever was inside and would soon be rubbing against the pavement.

When I got inside, they had another bag, cheaper than the one that drew me in. It is essentialy an over-night bag with wheels and a handle. Tagged at $40, I was shocked when I got to the register and it said $98. So it was marked down from $98.

That old bag would have cost at least $300 in a similar store. It has obviously better design and construction, about twice the capacity, and (best I can tell) no corners were cut in design or construction.

I expect the new bag might last a month. The old one must have lasted six months or more, and with some vigorous and punishing daily, continuous, usage. Not bad really, not bad at all.

I guess I never probably thanked whoever shopped for that bag, and paid for it. Perhaps this will serve to better express my appreciation, for I could tell, from the moment I saw it, that they’d spent some time to find and select something that would work for me. And it very well could have cost a month’s rent.

Something I suspected from the moment I saw it, and thought about continually as I used it, 24 hours a day, every day, day after day, for months.

I won’t be able to sleep on the new bag, and use it for a pillow, like I did the old one. At least not as easily and comfortably. And that is a safety (theft) issue as well as a convenience. And I wasn’t able to get my camping pillow in the new bag, I had to leave it behind. Nor is there room to stuff my jacket in the new bag, when the sun comes out and the weather gets warm.

But I figured I could use my jacket as a pillow, which I normally do (along with the pillow). And that the new bag would suffice. And that old bag was getting so heavy as more and more of the frame came in contact with the sidewalk and the plastic wore away to the metal, which jarred my carpal tunnel wrist.

Nor is there any room or place to attach a tent and haul it, like there was on the old bag. But the tent slipped out of the cord yesterday and slid off without my noticing, until it was so far behind that I couldn’t see it when I gazed back. So I figured even if it was still back there somewhere where I couldn’t see it, someone would pick it up before I could get to it. And I couldn’t drag that bag all that way, and back. And then to the back of Harvey West. And then back to town.

I left the old bag, on the sidewalk. Along with a can of sealant, which I never used. Maybe someone can use it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you just never know what someone else might find useful. But the old bag is gonna do me one last service, and receive one final use, for leaving it there was also an act of defiance.

I could take it to the corner and put it in the garbage. But besides the fact that I owe these people nothing, and will probably have a bench warrent issued for not appearing on a camping ticket soon, if one hasn’t been issued already – besides that, or maybe in addition to that, these people have done a whole heck of a lot (so far as I can see) to warrant me really NOT giving a damn about them, or what they think.

Not as a community.

Individuals have helped and some have gone to more than a little trouble and expense to help, and I am grateful. But the community treats me like a problem best dealt with by driving me out of town. And, the best I can tell, that is the institutional position as well.

Well, they’ve ground me down to where I will probably never get out of here, and just be grateful when it’s all over.

But it was a good old bag. And it was a comfort to know that somebody, somewhere, cared enough to give the very best.

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