I can tell when the warm weather is here to stay because those long tables set up by the NYPD to search our bags in the subway stations are gone and so are the gaggles of women holding religious tracts at the 207th Street stop of the A train. It’s just too darn hot to proselytize and stop and inspect the perspiring masses when temperatures on subway platforms and stations reach triple digits. But I have discovered a theory as to why women’s bags aren’t searched as often as the ones belonging to their male counterparts.
My theory is that men are selected because they travel lighter. Let’s face it. A wallet and a small bag get you in and out and off to your destination quickly. My handbag/suitcase weights 27 pounds. I know. I weighed it myself. A heavy bag, by the way, also serves as a deterrent to a purse-snatcher. He just might trip over it, and it requires some measure of dexterity to remove the bag from my shoulder; this involves a shoulder roll followed by a twist and drop.
Sometimes I find things that I can’t recall even placing in my handbag, including a desiccated banana, a flat but still edible Devil Dog and a crumpled bag of dark chocolate Raisinets, pennies picked up from the street, and many pens lurking at the bottom. I once emptied my bag of a typewriter, a pair of shoes, two bottles of Yoo-Hoo and three Kit-Kats, plus a toothbrush, wallet, telephone, makeup kit, keys, tissues, a book about cemeteries in the city, and someone else’s umbrella. It would take a good 40 minutes to empty my bag. And then everything has to get pushed and shoved back in and organized. What police officer has the time for that? And if there’s a quota system, I’ve just disrupted the numbers.
And, I’m one of those compelled to explain my belongings and purchases and everything else. You know the type.
“I’ve had this keychain since the sixth grade, Officer.”
“Remember Starsky and Hutch?”
“No, you don’t look like either one, but I was just wondering.”
“ I don’t have a dog but let me explain why I have a squeaky dog toy in my bag… “
“Do you shop at Lord & Taylor? What do you think of this blouse?”
“The wallet? That was a gift for my last birthday. I like all of the compartments.”
“No, that’s not for bullets, that’s a toothbrush holder.”
“My driver’s license photo makes me look like one of the Muppets. Do you think I should have it redone?”
“Pardon me, but those are Tic-Tacs.”
“Oh, look. Here are photographs from my vacation. Check this out.”
“Do you think $249 is too much to spend on a sweater?.”
“And What do you think of these blue shoes? They match my eyes.”
“No, you can’t borrow them.”
“Very funny. This doesn’t belong to Alex Rodriguez. These are my knitting needles.”
“That’s just my phone barking."
Now just imagine the same man shedding his civil service role and crossing over to the other side, returning home after seven hours of examining the miscellaneous contents of bags belonging to my fellow travelers and me as we trek below ground, and dropping wearily onto a recliner, eyes closed, and then his wife bursts through the door.
“Guess what I found on sale!?”