It’s been intriguing watching people who work at the campus where I am working now.
They’re a different brand of people than we have in my old building–a lot of shirt-and-tie types, hustling off to meetings talking about who-knows-what; engineers talking to each other about trying to figure out how to sandwich something into a certain space while walking to the cafeteria; admins complaining about their managers as they go to the Caribou for their third tall dark roast and a scone.
But a lot of people have an accessory you’d almost never see at my old building: a wheeled computer bag.
I understand that the five pounds of laptop can get heavy to haul from one end of the complex to the other, but this almost borders on the ridiculous; these bags are huge, and they’re stuffed to overflowing with papers, the laptop, a wireless mouse, power supply, the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and that shipment of lead they’d been expecting last week.
It boggles my mind walking behind these people on the way into work and on the way out of work, rolling these overstuffed bags from car to office and back again. And I really wonder if they’re using all of that paper or power supply or lead when they get home to do more work than they could finish in the eight hours they spent in the office.
Besides, aren’t we all supposed to be paperless by now?
These bags are amazing in themselves, too, with retractable handles, different sized and types of wheels–it strikes me that the rubberized wheels allow the user to travel in a constant state of “business stealth mode,” thus enabling them to sneak up on the meetings they have to attend that day. But then there are the loud wheels that clatter rhythmically across the tiled floor of the walkway, warning all in the oncoming path that this business leader is arriving to do great deals of business and slay all bureaucratic obstacles that stand in their way. I wonder if the size, type, and over-capacity of the bags is, in and of itself, a status symbol, meant to stake out the higher ground when seeking that next pay grade. If so, then I frequently match my one-over manager: I’ve arrived and left at the same time as her on a couple of occasions, and she carries no bag beyond her purse and a small laptop bag. But the network administrator in the next cube over from mine carries enough supplies to apparently survive being stranded on a deserted island until help arrives. And to this day, I have no idea what it is she actually does, because she spent all of last week negotiating to purchase a car to replace the one her daughter totalled.
It makes you wonder what future civilizations will think of us: whether they’ll find our small laptop bags quaint and antiquated compared to their enormous trunks of gear they have carried around by slave Sherpas; or whether they’ll wonder what the hell we carried in there since their computers are now implanted in their left ear lobes and feed a display directly into their brains.
Ah, to wonder about the future by watching the present.
See you tomorrow.