Pulling a rolling backpack is not a crime

Sometimes I get on the elevator and someone will look at me and smile (Rose Richard’s article “Get off the elevator if you don’t need it”, January 24, 2003). Occasionally I run into people that are exceptionally kind; they hold the door open, ask me what floor I would like and they may even ask me about my day. Then we have Rose Richards. Ms. Richards is very annoyed with many of the students at PSU. Ms. Richards gets very angry when people who do not look “disabled” ride in the elevator. Furthermore, her blood boils when someone with a rolling backpack dares to get on her elevator!

According to her article, unless someone is “in [a] wheelchair or on crutches,” they should be healthy enough to take the stairs. By her standards, someone with a herniated disc in their spine, unable to carry heavy objects or walk up stairs due to pain is not disabled. Someone with a neurological disorder who looks healthy on the outside but is physically unable to walk up the stairs is not disabled. Unless you fall under Rose Richards’s stereotypical notion of what it means to be “disabled,” you need to get off the elevator immediately.

Ms. Richards goes on to tell us that rolling backpacks are annoying and the people that pull them are “lazy” and “rude.” Besides, Ms. Richards says us lazy rolling backpackers need to toughen up! I guess we had better start carrying our heavy backpacks filled with notebooks, water, lunch, books and personal hygiene. But wait, what’s this? Occupational therapists warn that heavy backpacks can be a health hazard? It can’t be true. Rose Richards says rolling backpacks are the cause of all problems. Yet numerous authorities are reporting a new and disturbing trend that is emerging due to backpack use. Young children are suffering from back pain much earlier than previous generations. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the use of overweight backpacks is a contributing factor.

Would you like to know what annoys me, Ms. Richards? If you were to see me on the elevator, you would probably label me as being “rude” and “lazy” without ever knowing anything about me. You judge based on looks alone. I also know of other people that use rolling backpacks, and you know what, they are wonderful people. They are not rude, nor lazy. They chose to pull a rolling backpack out of need, or desire, and both reasons are ok.

Furthermore, I pay taxes and I pay tuition. If I want to ride an elevator on PSU, it’s my right. If I want to roll a bag around campus, and God forbid, take it on the elevator, I’m going to because I can. You can form whatever stereotypes you want about me, I can’t change a closed mind. However, I do take strong offense when I’m judged and criticized by someone who knows nothing about my personal health. From what I have learned about the afflictions caused by wearing back packs, even if I didn’t need my roller bag, I would still choose to pull one around campus.

Stefani Schober

psychology major