Back-Pack Attack

, , , | Friendly | July 15, 2019

I’m about 12, on a field trip with my summer camp to an amusement park a few hours away from home. Like many kids in the early 2000s, I have a backpack monogrammed with my first name on it, which I am currently using to haul my lunch and swim gear. My first name is not unusual, but fairly uncommon in my area.

While waiting in line for a ride with my group, I hear someone shout my name. I don’t recognize the voice, but it’s instinctual to turn when you hear your name and mine is uncommon where I live, so I do. I don’t see anyone I know, so I assume the shout wasn’t meant for me and turn back around. I don’t leave the group, I don’t spend more than five seconds looking for the source, nor do I even respond verbally.

In a split second, a middle-aged, matronly figure full of self-righteous indignation comes barreling towards us. She begins to berate my camp counselors, lecturing them on how it’s unsafe for children to have their names on their backpacks, that they could easily be kidnapped because a stranger knows their name, and my turning around just proves her point. My counselors basically ignore her until she runs out of steam, at which she flounces back to whence she came. What she expected my 20-something camp counselors — all wearing bright yellow t-shirts with our camp logo on them and clearly herding a group of about 15 pre-teens — to do about a backpack my family had purchased for me in the middle of an amusement park is anyone’s guess. Or why she felt the need to prove her point with a 12-year-old who clearly knew not to walk off with strangers because they knew my first name. 

Almost 20 years later, I still have that backpack and use it regularly. Despite that women’s worst fears, I managed to avoid being kidnapped because of my backpack. And the number of people who even notice it has my name on it are far fewer than the people who don’t notice unless I point it out.

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