Why Does My Briefcase Matter?


So. Here’s something regarding the subject of discrimination, prejudice or judgement that you won’t see every day. 

Why do some people regard me differently when I carry a briefcase (aka: my laptop in a laptop case) to work and back? 

You might be wondering why I am bringing this up? Well because there’s been so much in the news about different types of discrimination or prejudice and how one person allegedly views another for various, and sometimes odd, reasons.

I wear blue jeans and tennis shoes to work everyday. I usually just wear a colored pullover shirt…like a t-shirt, and often wear logo t-shirts on Fridays.

For the particular position I have now, I do not dress up. I do not wear slacks. I do not wear dresses or skirts. I do not wear dress shoes. And I very rarely wear makeup – mostly because in the summer my building is too damn hot to cake that shit up on my face.

Despite that I dress this way, people seemingly treat me differently when I carry a laptop. For instance, on the days that I carry a laptop/briefcase, some people waiting for, or in the elevator, wearing dresses and suits who also carry briefcases, or laptop cases, and other such bags used to carry paperwork and files, look at me and smile or make small talk. Especially men! On the days that I don’t carry said case, and might just carry my bag with my lunch in it or other personal items, they ignore me. Now why is that?

I’ll tell you why that is. It’s called class division or separation. And when they ignore me, it’s quiet discrimination. For some reason, humans eye each other trying to glean information about one another. Said info is often incorrect. We view each other in particular ways. We focus on something, something that we believe defines a person and we run with it. On the days I have a briefcase or laptop case, I am important. I’m as important as the lawyers on the upper floors. Or the people who work on that floor where that very important person’s office is located – despite the fact that we all work for that main important guy. Then on the days I don’t carry a case, the same type of people don’t regard me at all, and don’t want to. Why does my laptop, or the carrying case, define me?

It’s some kind of trigger, you see. To see someone carry this type case, such as a laptop case, briefcase, or a document bag says to some people that you are well educated, employed, well paid, and that you are of a higher class than people that don’t carry these types of things. And if you have to carry these things while in a suit, you’re even higher class than the others who don’t wear suits.

I find a problem with this since I know many people that go to work everyday empty handed, wearing blue jeans, holey t-shirts and flip-flops, and they get paid double…even triple…what I do. And I know plenty of people who run off to work everyday with a case, such as a briefcase, and get paid less than I do and they have to buy their suits at places where clothes are so costly that I wouldn’t buy a pair of socks there. Oh, the vanity. We must keep up appearances.

I’m a writer. A self-published author. And I’m broke. My briefcase, or laptop case means nothing when it comes to my class status. Yes, I have a higher education. Yes, I have an okay paying public-service job. But I am really nobody outside of what I author. And my briefcase will never make me somebody.

I know that perhaps this is an odd thing for me to notice. And maybe an even stranger thing for me to blog about. But it’s bothered me for some time, so much that I felt I had to talk about it. 

Briefcase, laptop case, document case: An old-time class divider seen through new eyes.

Thanks for reading.