Backpack Rant!!!


Back you soul sucking animal!

Back – no, no, don’t – not another fall.  

Splat – ouch damn it.

Why can’t you leave me alone?  What the heck have I done to you?


Backpacks –  brrrrrr.  The word gives me chills.  Backpacks hate me.  Collectively they have decided to bite me, push me, smack me, trip me and generally aggravate the hell out of me.  I live in Italy 6 months a year and the backpack gang has made life hell.  Unadulterated HELL!

The first time one the X%#&%@%$% attacked me was about ten years ago.  The sun was shining, my husband Jack and I were exploring Lago Como and decided to have a cappuccino.

What?  Of  course it was before 10:00 AM.  What do you think we are ugly Americans?

Speaking of ugly —– A group of obviously New York region tourists – I’m from the New York Region so I can talk nasty but watch it if you’re not from the USA – you can’t.  Anyway, these folks  were sitting around a table in front of a small  bar on a smaller piazza.  Clad in shorts, sneakers and baseball caps —  Yoo hoo – except for a nine year old have you ever seen an Italian dressed that way?  Mai!  Never!

Anyway, back to the backpacks.   Their backpacks – unbeknownst to me – were casually sitting behind their chairs, leering out of their little grommet eyes and gurrrrring.

While concentrating on carrying a cappuccino from inside the bar to a table, a backpack lunged at me.  I swear the thing lashed out and bit my ankle – well maybe it was the carabiner pin thingy  that nabbed me.  Rats that hurt – do I see blood.  No, but I do see the arrogant nasal sounding cretins who own the backpacks pulling bottled water and snacks out of the vile things to eat at the bar’s table.  PEOPLE YOU WOULDN’T EVEN THINK OF BRINGING YOUR OWN FOOD TO DISGUSTING MC DONALD’S!  Bars in Italy – as we did in Asbury Park, NJ – pay a fee to the town to be able to put tables outside.  Buy Something!

That did it – it wasn’t my fault. It was them  – really – I just had to say “Gee, I’m so sorry the market treated you guys so badly and now you’re homeless – living out of your backpacks. So sad.”

Then I smiled, sat at a table and sipped my paid for cappuccino. The backpacks growled.  Jack put his head on the table and sighed.  They weren’t kids they were folks like me – well over 50.

It was after my smart ass comment that the backpacks of the world started tormenting me.  They haunted me, followed me, tripped me and – have I mentioned –  freakin’ annoyed me.

There I was, riding the Metropolitana in Milan minding my own business when bang, smash ouch – what the X%$# – hit me in the back. I quickly turned to see a well dressed white haired woman porting a giant back back chatting with a pal – also bent over under the weight of a snarling tapestry covered evil beast.  Forgetting she had a hump on her back the idiot had swung around to chat knocking the wind out of me. “Excuse me – do you know you’re carrying a back cracking weapon on your back?”  She gave me one of those southern drawls and ignored me.

It was a lovely day in Siena – a few days before the Palio.  Jack and I were eating lunch at a lovely restaurant when a large family appeared – each and everyone had a backpack.  Maybe they were gypsies?  Nah! Starting with – DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? – and ending with sending their kids to another restaurant to buy gelato to eat at this restaurant’s table – I realized they were as inconsiderate as one could be.  Oh the backpacks – tossed on the ground so that every waiter had to leap over them to carry food to other tables.  Jack stared at me and then put his nails in my leg – he knew I was about to explode.  What could I say that would have an impact.  Nothing.  When you are an ugly traveller you are an ugly traveller.

Instead, I called over the headwaiter and apologized on behalf of my country, explaining that we were not all “Cafone, maleducato, volgare” – mannerless creeps.   Oh, yeah even though in Italy one rarely tips – I did mention to this family that they should tip heavily because that was de riguer during Palio season in Siena.  Ooops a wee and I hope cost ’em big fib.

Backpack Montage

Bellagio photos shot within a 5 minute period.

Bella Bellagio is besieged by tourists of all nationalities but it seems only the ones that speak English and maybe German carry backpacks.  Gaggles of them.  The charming village has narrow streets that wind up hill – both sides with shops designed to tempt the tourist.  That means the tourists are quickly stopping, turning to face the windows  and smacking me in the face.  Their backpacks that is smacked me in the face, head, shoulder etc.  I’m thinking you came to town on a tourist bus – are you carrying the crown jewels? Leave your stuff on the bus.

I asked a very civilized and loving pal of mine who carries a backpack one question – Why?  For my water in case I get thirsty – every little village in Italy has a bar and a fountain –  water is accessible.  For my binoculars when I’m birding – I’m talking in Manhattan – not the woods.  Oh, well they stay in my backpack.  Then there is a sweater if I get cold, books if I get bored and the list went on.

I thought about the list and had only one comment –

When you are in Europe do you want to explore a new culture, resonate with the customs or wear a sign that says I’m An American – Bite Me?

Beware.  I am from New Jersey and I might bite you before your backpack bites me!

8 thoughts on “Backpack Rant!!!

  1. I can’t imagine lugging a heavy backpack while trying to see the sights. I blame Rick Steves and his day bag!


  2. I have a collection of various sized and types of bags that I use depending on where I am going. Perhaps these folks spent all their money on plane tickets and could only afford one back pack sized bag? Have you considered offering them a small amount toward building an appropriate bag collection?
    In Cape May NJ you still see fanny packs.


  3. One of your funniest yet Midge. I am rarely outside without my backpack, even on my bike. It does take consciousness which takes awhile to develop. Most everyone here in Holland carries one. It’s like a purse. When I first arrived and began my exploratory backpack lifestyle I backed into a shelf of wine bottles forgetting I went back that far. It wasn’t pretty. The management was used to it.
    I do have to say I bet backpacks are really daunting to someone your height since your face must be standard backpack-smack level. I’ve learned that the moment I enter the tram, or a cafe, or anywhere crowded that I take it off and carry it. It’s just polite.


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