The Practical Gentleman’s Guide to Urban Insolence, no.3

Posted on April 29th, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

Huge bags. Large purses. Portly rucksacks. Plump portmanteaus.

They’re digging into my ribs, making inappropriate contact with my nether regions, and just generally making their unwieldy presence known.

The male version is usually a backpack filled to capacity with god-only-knows-what. It sticks out behind the wearer like a malignant growth, taking up twice the space that he normally would. It’s kind of like he’s carrying the grossly deformed embodiment of himself on his back. Every turn on a crowded streetcar positions the plump doppelganger in someone else’s way or worse, into their gut.

This can be especially problematic when sharp items stick out of the bag, like the protractor that kept threatening to pierce my stomach on the packed King streetcar.

Pointiness and space consumption: A serious threat.

The female equivalent involves the sidewalk portage of behemoth shoulder bags, often accompanied by small purses whose purpose, presumably, is to make the bearer more fashionable. Small purse: Yes. Huge cousin tagging along for the ride — to use the vernacular of the moment: Fail.

These tend often not to be dangerous so much as painfully annoying. Sitting face to face with a knock-off Ralph Lauren and getting the backhand from it when it’s owner reaches for her mobile (which is, of course, tiny), is not a nice feeling. Look, for a guy to get a mug full of any connotation of the word “bag” is unpleasant. For ladies on the receiving end, well, I’ll leave that one up to you.

So what’s the practical gentleman to do?

In this installment of the Guide, I offer three choices:

1. Tief or spill

This one’s rather simple. Since you’re already pressed into the bag, why not help yourself to some of its contents? If that sounds a bit risqué, perhaps simply leaving the zippers/buttons undone will provide a modicum of enjoyment as the target disembarks at the next stop. The aim here is to produce maximum spillage but only as the streetcar speeds away.

Does this sound a bit harsh? How about the sticky thing in the backpack that’s going to give me an unwelcome nipple piercing at the next set of lights? Tit for tat, say I: Curse at me all you want, you’re on the street!

2. Jerk ‘n laugh

For this one you need to come prepared with a short length of twine or sturdy string. Simply attach the bag (any likely spot will do; have fun with it!), to the nearest pole and prepare to hold your sides in uproarious laughter. I believe that with practice one could learn to judge the center of gravity on a bag well enough to cause consistently hilarious total-body wipeouts.

Be sure to get off at the same intended stop as the target: Curse me all you want, you’re in the streetcar!

3. The Stick of Justice

This requires even more equipment but it’s the thing that’s least likely to get you brutally beat up. Here we simply affix wide adhesive labels to the target’s baggage to warn others of the dangers you’ve experienced. Keep the message simple, to the point, and brief. Old stalwarts like “Wide Load” or “Baby on Board” are always a good first try.

Just ‘till you get the feel of it. Then feel free to improvise; “Ass” with an arrow pointing upward; “Ask me about child molestation” adorned with a stylized question mark; “Yes, it was me who farted”; “Contact to rent this space”; the sky’s the limit. Take that hat off and feel the wind in your hair; inspiration happens in the least likely of moments.

In this scenario the chance of an altercation occurs only when the target notices, or is notified of, your maneuver: Curse me all you want, you’re a rapist! (or whatever’s written on the tag)


Really, the aim is to make our transit less baggy, and more people-y. The bag on the seat really isn’t a solution, either. I don’t see a transfer in that thing’s hand and it’s bigger than the fourteen-year-old sitting behind it. And don’t look me in the eyes and then go right back down to the book like you didn’t see me! God!

I’m sure there are much more creative solutions out there; I’m merely one punctured guy. The important thing is to exact generous retribution for insolence suffered. And also to laugh.

What's on your mind?