Briefcases, My Personal Journey

I was never one to bother with briefcases; I just did not see the need. Maybe it was all those years at school using a backpack; I don't know. When I got a job at an engineering testing firm, I learned that I was going to be out in the field a lot. That is, I had visit construction sites and run tests on concrete, soil compression, and other stuff. To do that, I needed paperwork, forms to fill out. My first thought was to get a box to put everything in, but my boss pulled out some cheap, old leather briefcases he had in a closet. He said I could just use one of them. So, for the next few months, I and my co-workers used a bunch of used briefcases to carry our vital materials around in. I had to admit, they were quite the economical means of supplying the staff with what they needed.

When I left the company, and went to work at a real engineering firm, I was again without any sort of briefcases. Back then, I was just a lowly technician; so I did not see the need in investing in briefcases for my daily use. Several of the guys in the office joked about the new guy - fresh out of college, the epitome of the stereotype Yuppie. He wore a suit to the office, and had clearly looked over a bunch of fancy briefcases. The one he carried was a beauty, but he had nothing in it! It was strictly for show. So, I decided: no briefcases for me until I had something to actually put in it.

A couple years later, I was married, and well on my way to becoming a full-fledged engineer. You see, engineers are kind of like doctors; you have to intern for a while (four years), and then pass a state exam. Once I was ready for the exam, I looked over some old briefcases that my mother had in her closet; they were my dad's old briefcases. I figured, what with going to take this test, I'd need something to carry all my paperwork. So, she let me pick out any of the briefcases I wanted, and have it. They were all pretty old, and a couple briefcases were actually moldy, but I found a decent one.

Once I had selected from among the briefcases available, we got all my stuff together, and drove up to Orlando, Florida for the exam. I was very nervous about it; it was common knowledge that few people passed the test on their first try! Still, I was determined to do my best. I felt a little ashamed of my poor case; it was pretty pitiful alongside all those fancy briefcases of the other attendees.

The test lasted eight hours - four in the morning, a lunch break, and then four in the afternoon. How many questions? Eight, four in the morning, and four in the afternoon. Yeah, an hour for each - and I needed every second! Each question was all essay, so I did a lot of writing that day, must have worn out three #2 pencils. Afterwards, we all picked up our briefcases and headed out the door. I saw a lot of sad faces that day.

Several months later, on my birthday in fact, I got the test results. I'd passed; I was now an engineer. To celebrate, my wife took me out to a store that had a bunch of briefcases. I was to pick one of those briefcases, and she was going to buy it for me. It was a present to celebrate my getting that professional engineering certification. Since then, I've had quite a few briefcases; some of those briefcases have been quite fancy. Yet, I still have that first one tucked away in a closet. Of all my briefcases, I have to say that it's my favorite.