Role playing is a great thing for young kids. It helps in our development and is usually pretty harmless. One of my favorites was when we neighborhood boys used to play “Soldier at War”. The really fun part, other than building forts and strategizing our attack plans, was getting our father’s old army stuff out of the attic and using it to make the role playing more realistic.

You may wonder where I’m going with this, but it’s probably not where you think. My first experience with a backpack was during these childhood games. Wasn’t that where the backpack originated; from our military? Actually, the first backpacks were used by Native Americans and copied by pioneers during the late 1800’s. In any event, once I grew out of the role playing games, the backpack was never used again. But that has all changed!

Back in the early 1970’s the backpack started showing-up again. The reemergence began with college students. A few years later children started wearing them to school. Some marketer was savvy enough to push the backpack as the perfect way for students to transport their books to the classroom. The purveyors of the backpack began offering several sizes for boys & girls, every imaginable color, and added groupie icons on them; and sales soared. It really was a very clever idea, but when these students graduated and went to work in the real world, most abandoned their backpacks for a briefcase.

But then came the notebook computer age of the 1990’s. I understand backpacks are convenient for school kids, computer geeks and hikers, but why is the latest generation still using backpacks? OK, I agreed it’s convenient, but only for the user. For us other folks, people wearing backpacks are a royal pain in the ass.

The new backpack generation (supposedly adults now) are completely oblivious to the annoyance they cause when walking down a crowded sidewalk, into a bar or restaurant, bumping into others, spilling our drinks, knocking the hot ash off of our cigarettes, and taking up extra space. How can these people be so insensitive? OK, forget the cigarette ash; they deserve the burns in their backpacks.

The worst offenders often seem to be of the female gender. They appear to have abandoned the purse for a backpack. But I guess that should be predictable. Every woman I’ve known seems to have the need to carry more stuff with them as each year passes. By the time they’re 40 they really should start carrying a duffel bag, but that’s not fashionable… yet. Maybe that’s how I make my millions… designer duffel bags.

Only time may change this new venerable and inconsiderate fad. I suspect a study will come out some day that says, “Backpackers have a 73% greater risk of back, neck and shoulder problems when they reach 40 years of age than those who left all their stuff at home”.