Buying a backpack for school: it's not as simple as it sounds. Amigo is 17, a senior in high school, and he reads Braille. Braille books are big, much bigger than their print counterparts. His backpack needs to be large.
He reads Braille and he walks with a white cane. To ease his passing time from one class to another, he uses a backpack on wheels. One hand holds the cane out front, the other pulls the pack behind him.
He reads Braille, he walks with a white cane, and he uses the elevator. His backpack is always heavy, and it is always full. We spend more money than some families on the backpack because of the size factor and (drumroll) quality. He is hard on his backpacks, so a lifetime warranty is essential.
Two years ago, we sent his JanSport in for repair. He had worn through the straps. They fixed it, sent it back, and even sent us tips to prevent that problem from happening again. The backpack lasted a full year - and broke its zipper the last week of school. I had a plan: buy a new one, send this one in for repair and keep as back-up. Here is the actual list of events in the second episode of the Backpacks Show.
1. New backpack, allegedly same size as old, turns out to be slightly smaller, but still workable.
2. Workable - for a while. Within a month, Amigo pulls the main zipper off track, too many Braille books in the main compartment.
3. Mom puts zipper back on track - no permanent damage, he had simply overloaded it.
4. Mom expresses frustration: "Maybe you should just go to school with a suitcase!"
5. Amigo (thoughtfully): "That's not such a bad idea." And yes, he carries a carry-on size suitcase on wheels to school for the rest of the year, while his mother sets the two good backpacks aside and goes on with her life.
Then it was August, time for students in the U.S. to begin their new school year. Here's the script for the next episode.
1. Bring packs up from basement. Smaller one is in good shape, but probably won't hold his Big Braille Books.
2. Zipperless pack is musty from sitting in basement. Daisy washes it, leaves it on deck to dry in sun.
3. Murphy's law comes into play and it rains. Pours. Build-an-ark quantities of rainwater rinse the backpack thoroughly.
4. La Petite calls, "Mom, why is there a backpack in the bathtub?" Daisy answers, "Don't ask."
5. Daisy searches online for a replacement pack, finds one with a capacity slightly larger than original, orders it (on sale! with free shipping!) and treats herself to a cup of hazelnut coffee in celebration.
6. Daisy packs up the zipperless pack with repair instructions and addresses and other useful information, and mails it off to Everett, WA, coincidentally one of the main stops on her train trip in July.
7. The new backpack arrives, wheels and all, on the front porch of the O.K. Chorale (Daisy's house). The old one will be a back-up; the smaller one will simply be spare luggage.
8. Everyone is happy! At least until the next episode in...the Back to School Backpacks Show.