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Strapped Out

Along with my fobbie, my nylon briefcase gave up the ghost, the nylon parting and shredding where seams had formed, to the point where we simply had to get another.

And mostly I like it. It’s not perfect, but nothing would be; many things I want from a briefcase, like compactness and capacity, are contradictory. I’m still getting used to the squeeze through the opening slot when half-open, and the front pocket doesn’t hold an apple very well, but the grip is comfortable, the profile slim, and the case props upright easily. Mostly I got what I expected. Except.

The strap doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Adjustable straps are old technology. Everyone knows how to make one. Take the strap, add to one end a clip that can grip anywhere along the length of the strap, fold that end back and attach the clip to the strap, forming a sort of figure-9: the point where the clip grabs the strap is the point on the figure-9 where the loop meets the tail. Now fix the tail of the nine to one end of the bag and attach the loop to the other end of the bag, using a ring through which the strap can slide. If you want to adjust the strap, all you need to do is select where to fix the clip—closer to the tail, short strap; farther from the tail, long strap. Simple, right? Impossible to screw up.

Thinking the basic design of the adjustable strap to be idiot-proof, I didn’t examine my new bag’s strap closely. Only after a few uses did I go to use the strap rather than the handle, and had an unpleasant surprise: the point of intersection on the figure-9 is simply sewn in place. It isn’t adjustable. I was fooled because there is indeed a clip such as I’ve seen on other adjustable straps, but it isn’t attached to one end; it simply slides freely along the length of the strap.

Even this would be all right, had the permanently fixed length been permanently fixed to a reasonable spot. But it isn’t. Using the strap hitches my briefcase right up under one armpit. If I have a coat on, it cinches up so close that my arm can’t move freely. Slinging the strap over my head to distribute the weight across my torso is simply impossible.

I guess a buyer can’t take anything for granted, even when purchasing idiot-proof technology.

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