For probably 14 of the last 20 years, it seemed like the only thing I said when coming into or out of a rink was, “Who died and made me a Sherpa?”
In the years before rolling bags, our skates were carried in backpacks. That’s carry item #1. Then there were sweaters, parkas, warm-up pants, hats and gloves for hours of patch (figures, if you are too young to remember..). In those years, you added school bags, binders, books, lunchbox – it was a cornucopia of crud. Of course, NO young skater carried his or her own stuff. There was usually an entourage of parents packing paraphernalia. As a matter of fact, some of my fondest memories are of running back and forth to a car parked seemingly in another county to retrieve some forgotten item, like skate guards, or the ever-disappearing program tape (or, in later years, CD).
Then it happened. I even remember the first time I saw it. We were at a competition in Vail, Colorado, and this lovely little Shirley Temple type – about 6 years old – came floating into Dobson Arena with an empty-handed parent. Could this be? Was she just watching and not skating? No. She was dressed in a lovely little blue skating dress, but what was that she was dragging behind her? Could it be? Yes! It was a suitcase – ON WHEELS! Decorated with little bows and ribbons and festooned with skating patches, the bag followed the little girl into the arena like a well-behaved puppy on a leash. She sat down; opened the bag, and there inside, orderly and polished, were SKATES! In the netted pocket were GLOVES and GUARDS! The side pocket held music, makeup, hairbrush, spray. Even the little princess’ club jacket was neatly folded inside.
I was overwhelmed. There I sat with a pile of skating accoutrements that looked like they had fallen from a trap door high in the rafters of the arena, enveloping me in socks, pants, soakers, cracked tape cases, stinky and holy (not in a good way) gloves, club jackets…you get the picture. I could barely sit on the circular bench for all the things accumulated there.
As we left Dobson Arena, with laden arms, making two trips to the parking garage in order to make sure everything was accounted for, I thought to myself, “This little girl and her parents are on to something. Now, if only someone could make one boys would use AND one people could sit on. That would be an innovation!”
Fast forward: While there are many bags out in the marketplace today – some that roll in all different directions and look like sleek race cars – the one and only bag that makes sense to me is Zuca.. Certainly, Zuca is in control of the skating marketplace these days. Little shiny roller blade wheels, great designs and those all-important seats! What genius! But why are they only really being marketed to skaters?
Two weeks ago, I had occasion to be stranded in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. There were bodies everywhere. If you follow me on Facebook, you saw the photos as I blogged my way through five torturous hours of life in the glass fishbowl that is the United C Concourse in summer. I had a small carry on bag, no where to plug in my dying iPhone except to wedge my considerable and old body between two pillars after I discovered a hidden outlet. But there, across from where I was wedged in like ham in a stale bread sandwich, was a cute little girl who reminded me of that day in Vail. She was playing a game with her mom who was sitting in a seat holding two other children, and – yes – the girl was sitting on a Zuca Bag.