City Desk

Wanted: Small Bags

One of the resounding themes of Inauguration Day will be broken dreams and dashed hopes. People are going to be flooding the federal core, ready to celebrate an inspirational new president, only to be bummed out by the intense security surrounding the event. Hunger could be a problem as well.

If you are one of those 2 million-plus ordinary citizens alighting on the scene, you'll need to plan at least two meals ahead. That's because the chances that you're going to, like, get a spot for the parade or hang on the Mall, then go back to your apartment or hotel room for lunch, and then later re-assume your place in history are nil. Just not going to happen.

So you gotta pack lunch and water and snacks.

Yet according to the Washington Post Web site, you can't carry any large bags or backpacks, at least for the parade route.

Here's what is acceptable: "Bags smaller than 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches..."

Great work, officialdom. All my friends, all my acquaintances and relatives and colleagues—they all know automatically what kind of bag is 8-by-6-by-4. In fact, I have a good friend who, when he needs a bag, doesn't ask for a grocery bag or a "baggie" or a paper bag, but rather uses dimensions to state the request. Hey Erik, he'll say, you got a ten-by-19-by-3-inch bag kicking around in your kitchen?

Look at the top of this item. The Giant bag is 13-by-16 inches; the Washington Post delivery bag is 21-by-7.5 inches. Which means that the most common bags around are going to be useless to all you parade seekers.

We here at City Desk will keep following this bag story. We want to know who came up with these bag dimensions and why. Also dying to find out on what sort of bag the rule is modeled. Could it be some kind of Ziploc bag that's on every grocer's shelf? And what's with the whole 3-d standard? Sure, bags commonly expand and become three dimensional, but not uniformly so. And whatever you do, don't you dare try to get in with a bag that's exactly 8-by-6-by-4. Read the regulation carefully: It has to be smaller than those dimensions.

This is the story of the inauguration.

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Only fanny packs will make it into Fanny Packistan!

  • Darrow Montgomery

    Photo credit ?

  • Bobby

    i guess this rules out my hemp canvas tote

  • http://dcdl.org KCinDC

    Is there any official word on the security restrictions for the Mall outside the area for ticket holders and the parade route?

  • Erik Wemple

    Good question, KCinDC. Not sure about that. It would seem that the restrictions for that part of the event would be less stringent, considering that the hordes on the mass-section of the Mall won't be getting too close to dignitaries. But I am not sure.

  • Sarah Godfrey

    So, a 1-by-1 glassine baggie, just as a completely random example, should be totally cool, right?

  • Johnny

    A commonly found 8x6x4 bag would be the insulated lunch bags. That may be what they are basing this off of.

  • http://dcdl.org KCinDC

    Damn, my belt pack is 9 inches (though far smaller than 6x4 in the other dimensions). This is ridiculous.

  • greenie

    Just strap your belongings directly to your chest. You think they're going to make every person take off their 18 layers of outerwear to get on to the Mall?

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