I am at the Tumi store politely listening to a salesman list features of various messenger bags and briefcases.
Several bags are too bulky for my tastes. Others look like “old man briefcases.” Some look like purses.
One of the messenger bags has most of the features that I want. The salesman tells me it’s $500. I quickly leave the store.
My search for a professional laptop bag is in its fourth hour and I feel ridiculous. My previous bags from Tumi and Kenneth Cole are worn and ratty from years of abuse, but everything nice is out of my price range. I finally turn to Amazon.
I troll the Amazon app for messenger bags and find many options for suspiciously cheap prices. After too many comparisons and much handwringing, I finally choose a bag from a respectable-sounding brand that I have never heard of. My journey through this rabbit hole is finally over.
Or so I think.
Out of boredom, I research the bag brand after my purchase and quickly realize that the company doesn’t exist outside of Amazon. A Google search reveals that the company name is copyrighted by a Chinese woman, but there is virtually no other information about the ‘brand.’
Most of the “American” designer brands are made in Asia anyway, so my bag’s origins don’t matter, right?
The bag arrives from Amazon a few days later and it looks great. I pack my laptop in the new messenger bag, relieved that I can now ditch my well-worn laptop bags and briefcases.
I leave the apartment to take my new bag on its first coffeeshop trip, but notice a huge brown patch on my white shorts as I exit the building — apparently the leather isn’t sealed, allowing the bag dye to rub off on my clothes.
I then spend a few hours searching Arlington County for leather sealant and eventually find myself at another mall. After looking for a yet another new bag at several stores, I feel defeated. Why is this so difficult? Am I being cheap? Do all of the other guys at school spend $500 on their laptop bags? Who cares about a laptop bag anyway? I am surely overthinking this.
I decide to return to my cheap pleather bag and start to leave the suburban mall. Macy’s is on the way out, so I wander to the luggage section for one futile (half-assed) last attempt to find something suitable.
I enter the luggage section and immediately see a huge display case — all Kenneth Cole leather laptop bags 50% off.
The nice cashier gives me her store discount as well. The final cost of a new Kenneth Cole bag is the same as the crappy bag that I found on Amazon.
The no-name bag is now on its way back to the manufacturer.
P.S. — of course the bag that I ended up buying turned out to be on Amazon afterall. It’s not expensive as far as messenger bags go, but a little rich for a student budget.