An Ode To The Wheeled Briefcase


I remember the day vividly, as if it were yesterday. The year was 1997 and it was a particularly warm day in southern Connecticut for the first day of school. Although it was probably due to the shift from a September to an August start date, I still firmly believe it was karma for spending so much of my summer vacation indoors. Moments after stepping off bus 107 in front of my elementary school, I saw it. As a brown pigtailed classmate was leaving a grey Chrysler mini van, I saw the most confusing yet oddly intriguing device: a wheelie backpack. I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was looking at. I stood there staring for what felt like a lifetime, until a lady I would come to regard as my teacher asked what was wrong with me.

Fast forward to December the 5th, 2013. As I make my way down the hall to the men’s room for my daily 8:15, I see a similar oddity rolling off the company elevator and down the hall toward me. Could it be? Had this man accidentally grabbed his daughter’s wheelie backpack? What if her lunch was still in there? How would she eat? Then it hit me. This was no child’s backpack. Nay, it was a briefcase. With wheels! Like that warm August day in 1997, I stood there, flabbergasted. Truly at a loss for words. Had someone actually bought this? Can it be possible that this, THIS, was a million dollar idea? Well, here’s to you, wheelie briefcase rollers of the world. I propose four unanswered questions that have stood the test of time. Questions us handle briefcase carriers have long wanted to ask and long to know the answers to.

1. Are you a frequent flier?

You look as though you’re boarding a 747 to a foreign land. But this is an office, not a Delta terminal. I understand there are size restrictions for carry on bags, but this is a workplace. You need not fit your baggage in the overheard compartment. Not even under the seat-back in front of you! It’s a simple yet under-appreciated luxury of the cubicle life. But frequenting air travel would justify your wheels. I, as a lazy man myself, certainty understand the inconvenience of packing one wheelie travel briefcase, then repacking its contents into a wheelless brother and then back again into the wheeled chest. Is this your root dilemma? If so, I could call your rationale justified. A necessary evil, even.

2. Are those custom rims?

Since the invention of wheeled luggage in 1989, actually since my birth in 1990, I have seen many wheeled carrying objects: strollers, grocery store carts, airport luggage, backpacks, and briefcases. I have notice a trend that started in the 2000s and continues today: rim game. Each year’s models come with flashier and more eye-catching rims. Your chrome rims could blind the sun; yet, your bag looks a little worse for the wear. Did you upgrade your rims? Do you just shine them regularly? Are there people that steal briefcase rims and hoist your bag on a cement block? I have so many questions. Too many.

3. What the heck is in there?

I admit I found myself wondering, “What’s in there?” Odds are probably your basic white papers and manila folders. But I started thinking maybe it’s an oxygen tank? Maybe it’s an ant farm. Maybe it’s something really cool that I don’t even know about. Come on, guys. What the heck is in there? It’s got to be something heavy. Or living. You tread so lightly and your wheels move with such grace, it has to be something fragile. What if it’s empty? What if this is just a trick? What if that’s just what they want you to think?

4. Why?

Who do you think you are? What gives you the right?

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