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It started with a search for a new shoulder bag.

I was looking for something unique, something small enough that would take up half the external space of a backpack or messenger bag, but the inner storage of a forager’s dream carryall. No need for a full-force rucksack, capable of carrying 5 days worth of survival gear. I sought out something compact enough to fit an iPad, one or two books, a water bottle pouch, some outside pockets and that’s about it. Seems like an easy search, right?

I love the slung-over-the-shoulder-look, the cross-body bravado of a dude on a mission.

Far beyond the senior in high school, one-shoulder backpack image. Time to graduate to my own form of hipster, but without the man-bun or some pretentious drink with a lot of made-up words in the title.

The world of EDC bags (Every Day Carry) runs the gamut of women’s purses, to day-trippers taking the shuttle up and down the east coast between Boston, D.C., New York, Philly, etc. A bag created all in the name of efficiency.

Lo and behold, the same kinds of bags are also desired by the gun-loving crowd.

The NRA crowd.

The right wing crowd.

The conceal-and-carry crowd.

Not my kind of crowd.

(If you identify with any of the above groups, good for you. That’s the nicest way I can identify our differences without living fearful of some form of armed retribution… you psychopaths patriots.)

Turns out the internet can’t tell the difference between an artist seeking efficient portable storage and the next headline-making, three-named serial-killing renegade so now my social media advertising matrix makes me look like an insurrectionist with a penchant for ergonomic shoulder straps.

All I wanted was a backpack.

From that moment forward, I was bombarded with advertisements from PatriotWear, USAGear, GunFetish, Chicks on the Right, and other sites, sales points, “news” networks, and America-loving claptrap whatnot favoring the 45th President. Regardless of how many progressive, left-leaning anythings I followed or signed up for that provided hourly newsletters—BernieWatch, LeftieLovers, Greenpeace, California Pizza Kitchen—the right-leaning advertisements kept following me everywhere. I had to shift the focus somehow.

I donated to NPR, and got Dennis Prager ads.

I gave to Planned Parenthood and churches invited me to pray with them the following Sunday.

I contributed to NARAL, NRDC, and numerous LGTBQ+ organizations. I saw ads for adoption services, chainsaws and biblical daily planners.

I knew the only thing to do was to delete my entire Facebook account and start fresh. Before I made the difficult choice, there was a knock at the door. I donned my “Don’t Tread Your ‘Rona Virus On Me” yellow mask and peered through the peephole to find two cherubic, smiley-faced representatives from the Church of the Latter Day Saints on my doorstep. “Good afternoon Mr… Hetz… Is it ‘Hetzler’? Heltzer? Okay, Mr. Heltzer…”

All I wanted was a backpack.

Someone send a message to Elon Zuckerjobs and tell all the social media platforms to get their conservative adverts off my liberal ass. The thinky parts of the internet are too big, too powerful, too overbearing to allow me the shopping freedom I desire without bombarding my social feeds with a picture of some lumberjack-looking, ‘Murican hero with the stars and stripes on his chiseled ‘Murican chest, making The Punisher look like Ed Begley, Jr. shopping for gluten-free kale.

Screw it. I’m carrying my crap in a used shopping bag till the internet apocalypse wipes my record clean. Someday I’ll live in a world where purchasing a cordura satchel with a zipper doesn’t suddenly paint me as a firearm-carrying freak. I simply wanted something to carry some books and my iPad…

…so I could write things like this.

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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