On Board #13

Get your On Board submission in, if you haven’t already.

August 10, 7:25 p.m.
D/R Trains – Herald Square to Union St.

Bags. Bags of all shapes and sizes and degrees of reusability are on display, fittingly, in the Fashion District’s hub. There’s a Hollister bag on the smallish end of the spectrum, but it is the most ornately decorated: brownish paper with a green and blue tropical scene. One man wraps a Timbuktu messenger bag around his legs as if it’s the handlebar on a rather tame roller coaster. He’s talking about health care reform with a woman resting a lime green three-gallon purse on her lap. They’re sitting next to the Asian woman with the Hollister bag, which sits on the floor holding a white plastic bag of its own and a Poland Spring water bottle – no clothes to be seen. She has two more bags in her lap, both purses, both different shades of brown. Outsizing them all is a white plastic bag resting at the feet of a Chinese man. It’s reinforced twice, and holds at least three identical bags stuffed inside.

There are others. A woman boards at Broadway-Lafayette with a white, plastic bag from Filene’s Basement. Two people with backpacks sit across from the Hollister bag. One is a skinny black man, the other a skinnier Asian woman, and both rest the bags in their laps. His is bigger, but she has a second bag. There are bags from Dolce, Louis Vuitton, and Coach (all brown), three small plastic bags, all orange, all held by different people, and one petite purse printed with an oversized Playboy bunny (the logo, not a person).

Indeed, as far as the eye can see, there are only three people without a bag. One 25 year old in a t-shirt and gym shorts (his girlfriend has a purse), an elderly Asian man holding a Chinese language newspaper, and one Hasidic Jew who holds just a hat (his friend has a yellow and blue plastic bag with the words “Appetizing Food” written on it).

The man with the large white bag gets off and bends his knees to lift it, suggesting something else inside. A North Face backpack takes his place. There’s a black Puma bag, striped white. A brown leather briefcase. A turquoise flowered purse. There’s another Hollister bag, this one white and cloth. A large purse in tan and brown, with birds in yellow and night sky blue and aqua and crimson. One woman holds four plastic bags, three green, one white with a smilie face. There’s a black and red and white gym bag.

On the platform waiting for the R train there are more. A man in bright blue scrubs has an oversize Duane Reade bag in his right hand and a black backpack over his left shoulder. Another holds a flimsy bag big enough for a needlepoint kit. A white cloth bag holds a 12x12x12 glass box holding something.

Your narrator has, deceptively, been hiding the biggest bag of all as he boards the R train. It’s black, or reusable grocery-store material, with sparse white text, and could fit five of the item he just bought (an 8×10 Meanderings print to the first correct guess of the bag’s origin in the comments). But even on this train, the bag is not alone: a leopard skin purse, a lime green gym bag, an orange and gold and brown backpack. Messenger bags from Brooklyn Industries and Manhattan Portage and a 23-year old light skinned black man – Yankees cap, tan button down, short sleeve, diamond on his right ear – holding a bright pink bag nearly as bulky as his black back pack. It reads, iconically, “Victoria’s Secret.”

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