Embracing the "Murse" - a Lesson in Functionality (and Humility...)
Updated: Jan 1
Okay, so it’s time to address some social media comments / mocking… Yes, Chipp has embraced the “murse” (a.k.a. man purse, man bag, satchel, etc).
Despite prior comments arguing against it, Chipp has finally come around to the functional merits of the murse (i.e. travel money pouch), and he’s willing to use this post to take a solid dose of humility.
The Initial Anti-Murse Stand
Based on nothing stronger than his own irrational rationale (oxymoron for emphasis), Chipp planted a flag early on in his travelling days, stating that he would never embrace the murse. While it’s impossible to recreate the exact conversations, they likely went something like this:
Why would I need a murse? That’s what pockets are for.
If I carry a murse, it’ll just be an excuse to throw a bunch of unnecessary stuff into it.
Do I look like a European soccer player?
All perfectly compelling arguments, that is, until you actually think about them.
An Accidental “Skinny Jean” Purchase
Throwing in the towel on the anti-murse stance can actually be traced back to a pre-travel purchase. Not exactly what anyone would call stylish, Chipp concedes to Jenna’s (or his mom’s) demands to go get some new clothes once every couple years or so.
But, in his own level of guerrilla resistance to these demands, his buying tactic is, fine, I’ll get some new clothes, but I’m not going to try them on. Makes a ton of sense, right?
Well, two cycles of new jeans ago, this approach to buying new clothes led to Chipp coming home with some 90s-skateborder-esque baggy jeans (they looked like they fit).
With a full-blown pendulum swing the other direction, the most recent bi-annual jeans purchase resulted in a (between raucous laughter) joke: Where’d you leave the brush? Because you definitely painted on those jeans! These ones also looked like they fit.
Eventually (maybe) Chipp will stop being such a petulant child when it comes to clothes shopping, but in the meantime, he’s stuck travelling with jeans that make fitting a phone, cash, compass (nerd), and other travel-related accoutrement into the provided pockets a monumental task.
The Tremendous Functionality of the Murse
Here it is: the murse is absolutely awesome!
Back in the pre-smartphone days, the first stop in any new town overseas always needed to be a hotel to pick up a local map. Then, if you were lucky enough to find one, you could swing by an internet cafe for a little more research and background on an area.
Now, with an unlocked iPhone and a Google Fi sim card, you get the infinite knowledge of the internet at your fingertips anywhere you go (sim card just picks up the local networks). More specifically, having access to a map app and an interactive overview of the local area public transit system makes having a smartphone nearly indispensable in a foreign country (okay, not indispensable, but definitely tough to forego once you’ve started using it).
Having said that, it’s nearly impossible to conveniently fit a massive smartphone (with case) into skinny jean pockets. But, you know where it fits perfectly? A murse! And, it’s super convenient to take out and use to double check a route or, more frequently, just figure out where you are after a long, aimless stroll through a new town.
Importance of Swallowing Your Pride While Travelling
The big takeaway from all of this (in addition to Chipp still knowing nothing about style, despite embracing a European trend) is the importance of swallowing your pride while travelling abroad - a theme we’ll come back to again and again.
Even in the most banal of situations (e.g. ordering a coffee, using an automated metro ticket system, etc), trying to figure something out in a foreign language can be hard. But, you know what makes it even harder? Having too much pride to admit you need help.
While situations like this have already happened countless times during our first few weeks on the road, here’s a good one:
We were trying to catch a ferry from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side to spend an afternoon in a new neighborhood. Feeling pretty savvy, Chipp had even gone so far as to take a picture of the ferry schedule at the port the day prior. So what happened when we showed up? We bought tickets, and they quite clearly didn’t work when we scanned them at the turnstile heading out to the ferry.
Apparently, Chipp had found a ferry going to the Asian side, but it just happened to be the slow, expensive one used for carrying cargo, not people. Our tickets didn’t work, because we needed to put significantly more money onto them for this type of freight trip.
Excessively stubborn and proud Chipp wanted - for a split second - to throw more money onto the tickets and take this ferry, freight be damned.
Excessively rational Jenna fortunately took the day. We found an extremely kind and helpful ticket agent who, despite not knowing English, was able to charade / point enough for us to grasp that the passenger ferry (the one we wanted to take) was a half mile up the coast, an easy stroll.
Lesson learned? Finding a hill to die on can be satisfying, but crossing the Bosphorus faster and for less money is more satisfying.
So yeah, now Chipp wears skinny jeans and carries a murse, but he still has the nerve to argue he’s not a hipster…