Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And for my next target

Yes, I meant it.

Mind you, ever since I read Joan Bakewell on what a boon wheelie suitcases are for the elderly, enabling them to get out and about in ways previously not possible, I would not ban them outright (unlike umbrellas, which surely could be brought under existing legislation covering offensive weapons).

Actually, I'm a liberal; I don't want to ban anything outright. I think some kind of licencing scheme might be the answer. Old people could have a free licence, but it would act as a deterrent to those who don't really need them.

Why has there been such a proliferation in recent years? It must be something to do with the development of miniature wheel technology - or else a blinding brainwave that no one had thought of before, but I suspect the former - that has caused so many to be available, in so many different sizes.

But why have they caught on so successfully, to the extent that even the smallest case now it seems is not complete without wobbly wheels and a flimsy pull-out handle. Have we all suddenly become weeds, unable to lift luggage that we managed perfectly well ten years ago? Were there serried ranks of friendly uniformed porters at every rail and tube station right up until the moment that these things first appeared on the market, at which point they all became redundant? Or is it just that people now take far more stuff with them wherever they go just because, thanks to the advent of little nylon wheels, they can?

Only, of course, as soon as they come to a staircase, they can't. They become as helpless as Daleks. You see them plaintively standing at the bottom, anchored to their case like a ball and chain, pondering the cruel trick that promised them that they could take the entire contents of their wardrobe and six pairs of shoes on that weekend break. Similarly when (as not infrequently happens) the wheels fall off or the handle breaks, and they're stuck with lugging it around in the old fashioned way for the rest of their trip. These days, even abandoning it isn't an option.

More seriously, presumably TfL have given some consideration to what happens to all the cases, large and small, should the tube need to be evacuated - say if there were a fire. Can you imagine how they would impede people's exit as great heaps of them built up at the bottom of the stairs?

No. Take a tip from me - never travel with more than you can comfortably carry. Even if that does include a roll of black and white check vinyl.


James said...

I'm with you on this one. Shaming admission: I'm happy to kick them if anyone gets in my way with one.

Halfie said...

At least the users, or those you meet, Sarah, are using public transport. Or trying to. And call me argumentative, but perhaps the luggage-wheelers hurt their backs in the past while lugging non-wheeled baggage around. Not that that helps when confronted with steps, of course.

Just putting forward a (small-wheeled) case for the other side. As with umbrellas, I don't use them myself.

S said...

Ooh, James, even I don't resort to violence. And yes, Halfie, some people might have very good reasons for using them - they could have an exemption from the licence. I just can't believe that everyone got bad backs just as these things became available. People should just take less stuff!

S said...

Oh yes, and good point about using public transport.

Simon said...

yes - tops and bottoms of stairs. Arg!

Of course, the yunger the users are, the less likely to do their handle faffing to one side, with some consideration for others.

My local supermarket tried to introduce oversized baskets with a similar pair of small wheels and haandle arrangement - they were a nightmare, as they tended to be several feet from the owner and I was always walking into them. Thankfully they didn't last long.