Designed for you

Sometimes, all it takes is a one-word prompt to get us writing.

Today’s Daily Post writing prompt: DESIGNED FOR YOU

Have you ever loved something so much, or experienced something so perfect, that you’ve felt it was designed just for you? Consider the design of everyday things that are meant to make an aspect of your life easier or better. Think of items you use and interact with regularly…

That’s the assignment for today’s The Daily Post. They call it ‘designed for you’. It is one of those topics that has so many possibilities you don’t know where to start. “Think of items you use and interact with regularly”, they say. Hmmm… what? We interact with so many things regularly, don’t we? Where do I start? How do I choose a single object to write about?

Not the daypack hanging from the hook, I think. Why not the Domke camera bag, then…

I was stumped. Then I look up from my screen to the door. On the back of that door are two hooks. From them dangle several caps, a black canvas camera bag, a day pack, a half dozen carabiners… and a small canvas shoulder bag. A bag, I thought, that’s something I interact with regularly, as the writing instructions say. Why not write about a bag?

Not the daypack hanging from the hook, I think. Why not the Domke camera bag, then? It has given me good service over the years and, the padded lining removed, it has served well as a general purpose shoulder bag. I’ve carried cameras, grocery shopping, clothing and more in it. But… no. Well, how about that modest little olive green shoulder bag? What’s interesting or inspiring about it? Nothing, I think.

Because it is nothing special

That is why I chose it to write about. Because it is nothing special. It’s just a smallish canvas shoulder bag of olive green colour with a flat pocket on the front and a lid closed by a couple plastic clips, one partly broken but still functional. Yet, it is the pack I automatically pick up when I’m going somewhere. And into it I carry bits and pieces I will make use of during the day.

Take the other morning. I was about to walk with my partner down to the community centre where she works. Ok, I did have an ulterior motive for doing this, not just seeing her safely to work. An ulterior motive or two. One was the exercise that walking there and back would give me. The other was the break in that exercise on my return journey when I would stop off at Cafe Japone for an extra hot cuppuccino.

So, getting ready to go, my camera was first thing that went into that plain green shoulder bag. I long ago learned the necessity of carrying a camera even when I have no plans to photograph something. Into it, too, goes a small notebook — one of those overpriced Moleskine brand — and a biro. Yes, I still occasionally make notes on paper.

My iPad fits snugly and it is something I use when I decide to do some work over a coffee and croissant in a cafe. My iPhone goes into the pocket on the front as does a little multi-purpose Swiss Army knife, one of the tiny ones with a small blade, file and scissors that I have found unexpected use for now and again. I find a small packet of tissues in the pocket and leave them there although I have never had to make use of them. There’s a little bag with a couple pain killers and a couple bandaids that lives in the pocket too, and like the tissues I have never had to use any of them. But they’re there, just in case. A tiny light dangles from the pocket’s zipper pull and there’s my door key. That’s all. It’s enough.

Space to spare

All this is carried in that green canvas shoulder bag with space to spare. I’ve carried other stuff in it from time to time — a carton of milk from the shop, a block of chocolate that was on sale, a 20m roll of 5mm cord from the climbing equipment rack at the bushwalking shop, a water bottle, a couple small gas cartridges for my Jetboil bushwalking stove.

I look across the room again to where that little green shoulder bag hangs from its hook and I realise the reason it is a suitable topic for today’s The Daily Post article is because it is utilitarian. It is plain, unadorned, simple, well made. It was cheap. I bought it from an army surplus store some years ago. It is unpretentious. It is incognito. It looks downmarket and people don’t notice it, which is one of the reasons I use it to carry a camera — it looks nothing like a camera bag. Deception like that has its benefits.

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