An inordinate amount of people wear backpacks in Paris. And I'm not referring to students and tourists. I'm talking about adults riding the metro during rush hour in business attire. While I expect more from the "fashionably chic" Parisiens (the ones that ridicule American for wearing Bermudas and knee-highs), it's not the assault on my eyes that I find irritating. It's the assault on my face.
I have been the victim of backpack burn many a times as an oblivious commuter drags his dirty Eastpak across my cheek because he is too clueless to realize that the canvas mess on his back moves with him. My instinct is to reach up and grab the handle at the top of his shell and pull him to his knees so he can beg for my forgiveness. The very handle that is intended to be used as a carrying device when it’s not practical to wear the backpack! Of course I don’t have the language skills or the balls to do this so instead I just push the backpack out of my face and look the other way when the culprit turns around.
This issue is taken very seriously in San Francisco. Public service posters appear in BART trains reminding commuters to remove their backpacks as a courtesy to fellow travelers (just in case someone forgot to pack their common sense that morning). Perhaps we are a little too nice in California. I’m going to need to toughen up if I’m going to make it in the Big City. A daily dose of sandpaper canvas to the face during my morning commute is a good start.