“Mankind isn’t so smart. It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on luggage”. This could be the single most long awaited innovation in history, at least during my lifetime. Family vacations used to be an absolute nightmare to pack up and move a family of five from one location to another. Suitcases had no wheels and had to be carried from point A to point B. No thought was put into making the suitcase lighter and many still had wood construction. In the late 50’s and 60’s plastic took the place of wood in suitcases which made them lighter but still no wheels. You could place a number of suitcases at an airport on a cart with wheels, which makes me wonder why no one at that time thought to put the wheels on the suitcases itself. Traveling was a hassle, pick up your loaded suitcase today by hand and see how far you can carry it. Now imagine one suitcase in each hand and a cosmetic case under one arm. It looked like todays TV show ” World’s Strongest Man” as contestants are challenged to carry heavy weights a designated distance. The father was the lead mule and expected to carry as many as humanly possible. This made for one cranky dad which just makes the situation worse as that in turn made everyone afraid of what might come out of his mouth. At least you didn’t have to worry about being backhanded while he was still carrying. Mom’s luggage was inevitably the heaviest and always included a second bag. Each kid tried to handle their own, not a good time to complain about it either. On the count of 10 everyone would pick up their assigned suitcase and go as far as possible until your arms felt like fire. Time to put it down, let your arms find relief, then on the count of 10 try to get more distance. Finally the youngest would drop and dad had to carry his own three suitcases to the next point, then return to carry the youngest one’s suitcase to catch up with the group. This is how progress was made and everyone was in a bad mood, you could swear one of the suitcases was full of shot puts.
The first wheeled suitcase was introduced in the early ’70’s but took a while to be used by the general public. They originally used a leash to pull wheeled suitcases, but more times than not the luggage would tip over due to poor balance. They eventually got it right and now traveling with luggage is remarkably easier. Of course 9/11 came along and security became a new factor, but that’s another story. The wheeled suitcase is a modern day marvel. In the running now for the silver medal in useful inventions is the GPS systems that make it very difficult to use the excuse, ” I got lost”. Remarkable how it guides you to your destination…then you can get out and wheel your suitcase into the hotel.