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  • Writer's pictureMary

Why I love being a Bag Lady and a commuter

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

Your commute is not lost time.

If you take public transportation to work like I do, you are intimately familiar with these common frustrations: delays, lack of personal space, no cell service, and the feeling that you're at the mercy of some mighty old system that's constantly being patched up but never fixed.

Whether it's 20 minutes or an hour, your commute is a committed block of time, twice a day five times a week, that you can't do too much about. And that can make you feel helpless and resigned. Here's the thing though - you still have within your power to make decisions about how to use it.

Vintage NYC subway map

I’ll be the first to say that sometimes my commutes are hellish. Just this week I sat for 50 minutes on a crowded train with no AC, sweltering in my high neck dress and cardigan. The train was crawling, and everyone had a sheen of sweat on them. But at least I had a seat, so I dug in and pulled out the knitting project that I’d been working on.

Here’s where my being a bag lady fits in. Any given day can include the following things besides work: a workout class, a trip to the ceramics studio, something to mail out, dinner with a friend. I need to carry everything I’ll need from morning to night because I don’t get to go home in between. When packing my bag, I also think about what I might want to do on my commute. I usually bring a thermos of coffee with me, and some mornings it's as simple as sipping my coffee while listening to a podcast. Some mornings I don't even get that far, and nap the whole ride to work. Other days, I have the New Yorker with me and try to get through one of the long form articles on a one-way ride.

Now and for the next few months, I'm working on a holiday project of knitting about 150 baby hats for a baby clothing brand I started partnering with last year. Knitting is an awesome commuter activity because it's contained and keeps your mind off of how slowly the train sometimes moves, how close that random person is to you, etc. I managed to finish a hat on that very hot commute, so even though it was a very uncomfortable ride, I can still say it was productive.

Being able to switch between activities on my commute means I need to have them packed and ready to go. I'm currently using the Madewell Transport Tote, its sheer size is well suited to my needs, though I wish there was a little more structure to it. I often see these bags on others; they're the solution for many commuters, it seems. Other days, I pair a smaller purse with a tall Baggu canvas tote or one of the many canvas totes I've accumulated for no good reason. I like the Baggu one because it has a flat bottom that allows me to stack my packed lunch upright.

Madewell Leather Transport Tote

Baggu Duck Tote

Here are a few other good options for living your best #bagladylife.

Pebbled handbag with keyring in beige from H&M

H&M Pebbled Handbag in Beige, $49.90

Zara Studded Bucket Bag in black

Zara Studded Bucket Bag, $49.90

Baggu Box Purse in Palm

Baggu Box Purse in Palm, on sale for $198 (originally $220)

Anthropologie Ring Handle Tote Bag in black

Anthropologie Ring Handled Tote Bag, $68

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