Here, from the packhorses' own mouths, is a sample of what people cart to work every day, and why.
RONALD WOODS, 27
STATE WELFARE CASE WORKER
What he carries: a yellow-and-white canvas Giorgio duffel bag, a zip-up tan nylon briefcase and a brown paper sandwich bag.
What's inside: "This" - raising the Giorgio bag - "is my workout clothes. This right here is my briefcase for work. This" - he nods to indicate the brown bag - "is my snack: apple juice and a danish."
What it's for: The gym bag is for the obvious purpose of keeping in shape, and the contents are pretty much what you'd expect: sneakers, weight belt, socks, jump rope and other body-building gear.
But the briefcase contains, alongside the usual paperwork, an inspirational book called "The Measure of a Man" and a Jerry Falwell videocassette. "It
balances out," Woods said.
JACQUELINE MILES, 29
What she carries: In one hand, a no-spill coffee mug. ("But it's tea. I don't drink coffee.") In the other hand, two bulging plastic bags.
What's inside: Merchandise to be returned to department stores near work, including a set of hand towels that didn't quite match her bathroom and a play set that didn't fit a friend's baby at all. "I don't have kids," Miles said, ''so I don't know what size is what."
What it's for: For the art of smart shopping, a real passion for Miles. On this day, two of the other items she's packed for work, both peripherally related, are a faded Cool Whip Lite container and a pile of party invitations.
The tub holds lunch ("It's a salad. I'm constantly on a diet.") for a quick bite at work.
"It saves time," Miles explained. "If you eat at your desk, you have your whole hour to go out there and shop."
As for the party invitations, "There's a post office at Wanamaker's," she said. "I'll mail them from there."
TONY BARNES, 26
What he carries: a brown paper sack by DKNY, with the designer's initials in big black type. "A friend of mine at work, he laughs when he sees it," said Barnes. "I say, 'This is my little pocketbook.' "
What's inside: A Pennsylvania Driver's Manual is prominent. Other contents include a jumble of keys, a Walkman and lunch.
What it's for: The book is for memorizing, as the commonwealth has suspended Barnes's license following an accident and wants him to prove he knows the law. The other items go into the bag to help the young man cut a smooth fashion profile. "I don't like putting things in my pockets," he said. "They sag."
BERNETTA HENRI, 36
What she carries: An oversize, see-through plastic bag from Franklin Mills, filled to bursting, plus a canvas tote.
What's inside: On this day, a neon-green squeeze bottle for her regular quart of iced-tea ("I fill it up once, then I have it all day."), another vessel that appears to be a copper coffee urn but is actually a watering pot for office plants, a nubby white "work sweater" for braving central air, a box of computer disks and a selection of dog-earred paperbacks. ("I joined the library at work," Henri explained. "They told me you have to bring in if you want to take out.")
"Of course," she added, "in my other bag I have my basics: shoes, pocketbook, Walkman."
What it's for: With the exception of the computer disks, it's for adding a human touch to the high-tech surroundings at her new place of work. "When I
went to pack up my old job, I didn't realize how much I had," Henri said. ''Now I have to carry everything with me."
Still to come after two weeks of daily lugging are the office plants themselves. "One day at a time," she said, sighing.
MICHELLE GEIGER, 24
What she carries: In addition an overstuffed brief case, a glossy black- and-white striped tote bag.
What's inside: In the brief case, a road atlas, among other business papers. "With our job," Geiger said, "we travel a lot." In the more festive tote, two bottles of tequila.
What it's for: Not, as the nasty cynics among you might guess, to help ease Geiger and her fellow auditors over the crisis in American banking. "I normally don't carry around alcohol," she said. "Trust me."
The bottles, she swore, were innocent souvenirs for friends at work. "I was on vacation in Mexico last week."
JERVIS THORNTON, 36
What he carries: a rectangular blue nylon tote and a cylindrical black one, both hanging jauntily off his wrist.
What's inside: Inside the blue tote, a laptop computer. In the black one, batteries and cables to keep it humming, plus pencils and pens as a backup.
What it's for: Keeping his life on-line. "I use the computer to keep my lists, my appointments, my calendar," Thornton says. "I wouldn't know what day it is without it."
PATTI HOGGE, 48
What she carries: two loaded Pathmark handle sacks, one weighing down either hand.
What's inside: a box of cookies, wrapped in white tissue paper and decorated with a pink bow; a Bible, similarly wrapped; another, unwrapped Bible; a good-size makeup case.
What it's for: "One Bible is mine; one is a gift," said Hogge. "I'm a born-again Christian."
The intended recipient of both the gift Bible and the cookies was a man she was meeting for a lunch date, their first.
As for the makeup, spiritual radiance doesn't necessarily preclude foundation and blush, Hogge said. "I want to stop at a hotel, run into the ladies room and put on some finishing touches."
OFELIA TAYLOR, 64
What she carries: On this day, a plastic draw-string bag from Payless Shoes. "Sometimes I carry this, sometimes a bag full of medicine," Taylor said. "But I felt pretty good today."
What's inside: Two varieties of tomatoes from her front-yard garden.
What they're for: "I'm taking them to a lady I work with," Taylor said. ''She doesn't have a green thumb."
Taylor, who lives on a fixed income, said she also raises and preserves green peppers, okra and spinach. "Then, during the winter, I have something to eat."