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to the editor:

i'm "a woman of a certain age" who is hostage to a new brand of new york menace.

here you come, bounding down the subway stairs, your backpack sticking out behind you. there i am once again, sideswiped by the dangerous thing, barely grabbing the rail to save myself from falling. and, there i am getting onto the train, being blocked on all sides by the humps on your back that you so blithely pretend are extensions of your body.

i understand that backpacks are for carrying heavy objects, but since when did they grow so huge? what puzzles me most is whether you are aware that you are being an impediment. when you strap your backpack on in the morning, does it occur to you that you are taking up more space in this tight city than you are allowed? is this something that you know and don't care about?

i'm here, too, the senior citizen, who is trying to pass on the street, or get onto the subway train before it closes on me. i've been behind you when you suddenly turned, swiping me with the protuberance strapped so jauntily onto your shoulders. you probably can't hear me muttering under my breath, but be assured that i am.

navigating our streets is an exercise in agility, caution and awareness, but the enormous extension to your back is a relatively new hazard. that you are young and strong enough to manage the thing easily is admirable, and undoubtedly helpful in your daily tasks, but for me it is just another potential danger that i must cope with in my daily life in our teeming metropolis.

marcia epstein

upper west side

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