Public Interest Courtesy Rule #19

Shopping BagsMuch as we all like to travel lightly through the world, sometimes it is necessary for us to carry a lot of stuff. This stuff may consist of gym gear, a change of clothes for a night out after work, lunch and daytime snacks, a pair of comfortable walking shoes, groceries, or general shopping purchases. Especially as we approach the Christmas end of the year with its tradition of exchanging gifts, we can often be burdened with more items than usual. A useful tool which helps us carry all of our extra bits and pieces is a backpack.

As the name would suggest a backpack is normally worn on the back. They can be structured from any number of materials, are available in many colours, and come in a range of sizes. Rather than be limited to what can be carried in our hands, backpacks allow us to redistribute our items more conveniently on our backs, thus freeing up our hands for all manner of other things.

Sometimes our backpacks are not filled completely at one location, and we may find ourselves moving from store to store or place to place to complete different purchases or collect a number of items. Understandably the stores we visit have introduced measures to deter shoplifters and limit loss of stock. Some of these measures include alarmed security sensors, undercover security guards and mandatory bag checks.

Given that backpacks are not often transparent, their contents can be difficult to determine simply from an external perspective. In addition, the size and compartmentalised nature of backpacks tend to make shopkeepers suspicious that we are filling our backpacks with unpaid goods. Surprising as it may be for some, in actual fact not all those people wearing backpacks are guilty of stealing.

Please remember that backpack wearers are people too and would prefer not to be stalked by your plain clothes detectives, have their bags peered into, or generally treated like they are convicted criminals just because they opt for the convenience of a hands-free shopping experience.


  1. Crafty Green Poet

    excellent post, I hate the way that if you don’t opt for a plastic bag, you are treated as though you are either a criminal or an alien. Though it is getting better. I don’t use a backpack very often though as at one point getting my arm into the shoulder strap had strained my shoulder. I have a large shoulder bag that i wear across my body and it has two fabric carrier bags in it for all those purchases.

  2. jan

    Every child between the age of kindergarten through graduate school in our town totes a backpack. I eventually agreed with this means of transportation and joined them.

  3. Nico

    As you said in another of these posts…if a store has good surveillance and security sensors, no bag searches should be necessary!

    Luckily I work, shop etc in the Sydney CBD (I live just outside it) so there are so many tourists around, and comparitively few schoolkids, that shops are used to backpacks and tend not to hassle you so much. Except of course at JB Hifi. If they weren’t so cheap…

  4. John

    I always get bleeped by the security thingies in shops, too – not because I have items hidden on my person, but because they can sense my unease at passing through the belly of something that might potentially want to bleep me.

    I take backpacks all over the place, and it does elicit quite a few more nervous, suspicious glances than it used to. We live in backpack-unfriendly times.

  5. The Artist

    Calling over to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

  6. Ivan

    Honestly, where is the love for ‘backpack’ wearers?

  7. Tracey

    Crafty Green Poet – I agree with you that things are improving for backpack wearers in some stores…it even seems to be accepted by some as an acceptable form of personal storage. Funny that you mention your shoulder strain, I recently hurt my neck and shoulder, I think because I was carrying a too-heavy bag…maybe my body is telling me to get a smaller bag!

  8. Tracey

    Hi Jan – Glad to know that you’re a fellow backpack user. They are just so exceedingly useful to carry all manner of things. Those students are definitely on to a good thing.

  9. Tracey

    Hi Nico – I know! It makes no sense why stores can’t just implement their security practices and then leave us to shop in peace!! I find that in Brisbane it really depends on the store as to whether you’ll be looked at with suspicion. What is really annoying is when stores don’t properly remove the security tags / codes and then I’m setting off all the store alarms for the rest of the day. I’m with you on the JB experience – those prices keep me coming back, but the constant bag searches on leaving often make me want to stay away.

  10. Tracey

    Hi John – I hate setting off those alarms!! It makes me feel guilty even when I haven’t taken anything. Maybe I suffer from the same fate as yourself – it is my thinking about not wanting to set off the beeps that causes them to go off! I’m a big backpack user, especially when I’m taking stuff between the gym and back…but for some reason they always feel too big and never feel like they fit enough in.

  11. Tracey

    Hi The Artist – As always lovely to see you here. merry Christmas to you as well! 8)

  12. Tracey

    Hi Ivan – I know what you mean. Why can’t all bags be accepted equally? I don’t want to be judged for my bag’s sake.

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