Remembering Briefcases

Love to own one, but difficult to find.

I recently had to buy a new briefcase.  My old one served me well for over twenty years, but the locks finally broke off, and I was forced to replace it.  This made me feel truly bad as it had become an extension of me by carrying all of my business belongings in it, such as my business papers, legal documents, photos of the family, stamps, computer accessories, and other pertinent items.  Having to throw the briefcase out was a lot like putting down a horse, and I was reluctant to pull the trigger, but it was time.  It was a classic brown Samsonite “box” with twin latches which was basically the style of such bags for many years.  It was like the one used by James Bond in “From Russia with Love,” except without the hidden dagger, gold sovereigns, and tear gas booby trap.  When I went to purchase a replacement though, I was surprised with what I found.

I went to one of the office mega stores to look for a replacement.  For years, I used to love visiting small luggage shops to look over briefcases, which I think is a guy thing.  Most were covered in leather which offered a pleasant smell.  You could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black, brown, or gray.  At the time, Samsonite and American Tourister were the big guns in the business.  Come to think of it, I think they were the only guns in the business.  When I went to the mega store, I was startled by the variety of carrying cases now available.  I discovered things had radically changed over the last twenty years.

Thanks to the laptop and the grunge look of the business world these days, I saw nothing that looked like my old “box.”  First, I discovered they aren’t even called “briefcases” anymore, preferring the term “murse” to represent a hip new man’s purse.  Most, if not all, were soft bags made of either canvas, leather, or some sort of artificial composite material (I really don’t know).  There were also a couple of hard plastic offerings, but these were on wheels and had a retractable handle so you can drag it behind you in airports.  Most had long straps so the bag would hang over your shoulder, but there were also backpacks for those who still see themselves as students or plan on hiking in the great outdoors.  I’ve got to admit, there were many imaginative designs and in a wide variety of colors.  They either looked like a PC carrying case, a shopping bag, a tote for wine, or something to carry on-board the S.S. Enterprise, none of which I could visualize myself sporting around town.

Not seeing what I wanted, I asked the store clerk, “Don’t you have a basic briefcase anymore?” He looked at me oddly, I can only suppose he had never met anyone from the 20th century before.  After thinking about it for awhile, he rustled through his inventory and lo and behold produced a black leather Samsonite box with twin latches (the last one of its kind in the store).  “Aha!” I exclaimed, “There is a God!” and I snatched it away from him.  I opened it to find all of the organized compartments I was familiar with.  I honestly think my mouth was watering by this time, and I bought it on the spot.  Frankly, I think the sales clerk was puzzled why I wanted the fossil, but I didn’t care.

When I got it home I cleaned out my old briefcase and transferred the contents to the new one.  Finally, I closed the lid on my old briefcase for the last time and bid it adieu.  It was all rather sad.

I am very pleased with my new briefcase, but I think this will be my last one as they have become an endangered species.  Consequently, I think I’ll take better care of this one.  To safeguard it, I have added a special security feature to it, a hidden dagger.  James Bond would certainly understand.

Keep the Faith!