Whether it's this past week's earthquake scare or last winter's infamously slow blizzard response, New York is starting to make a name for itself as one of the least-equipped places on earth to deal with, well, earth. As if we needed a bigger test, a category 1 hurricane with a grandma name is now threatening to hit the city this weekend with a force we haven't seen in a couple decades.
In response, city officials are advising residents in the most hazard-prone zones to prepare supplies in the event of an evacuation. They suggest two methods: (1) assemble an at-home "Emergency Supply Kit," filled with, among other things, "One gallon of drinking water per person per day"; and (2) if things get really hairy and your gently boho South Slope life suddenly whiplashes into a Cormac McCarthy novel, prepare something that the city is calling a "Go Bag."
I have no problem with the idea behind the Go Bag, which officials helpfully define for us: “a sturdy, easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or suitcase on wheels." I have no problem with its suggested contents: granola bars, a flashlight, house keys. But if this turns out to be the bag I'm rolling into a watery hereafter, couldn't we have thought of a better name for it?
First of all, it sounds a lot like "ho bag." Imagine being flooded in your studio walk-up with no supplies, thinking you were done for, but then a rescue helicopter zooms up, and some nice National Guard lady hollers, Are you all right?, and you yell back through your broken window, Toss me a go bag, just toss me a go bag! and her face scrunches up, like, uh, no, he didn't just call me what I think he just called me. Pilot, turn this chopper around, I think I spotted some less vocally misogynistic survivors floundering in Red Hook.
It also sounds a lot like a “to go bag.” One can imagine a group of baggy-eyed functionaries in the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) sitting around a conference table littered with countless balls of scrunched up yellow legal paper with all their discarded ideas, because come on guys, think!, what can we call the items you may need in case of an evacuation, and then their stomachs start growling, and one of them decides to call the Thai place they all like down the street for delivery, but the Thai place everyone likes only does “to go bags” at this late hour, and so he tells the other guys, fellas, sorry, only to go bags at this late hour, and all of a sudden everyone in the room perks up, and their eyes meet, and they all blurt it out simultaneously: "Go Bags!"
It also sounds a lot like a kind of emergency catheter, or a bag in which you should "go." Some nervous person skimming the OEM site might misinterpret the meaning of “go bag”only to be next seen walking the tree-littered, wind-swept streets with a zip-loc of urine jerry-rigged to his belt, another tall kitchen bag trailing behind like a mercy flag.
It also sounds a lot like you're cheering for an unfortunately named minor league baseball team called, for example, the Saratoga Sandbags, as in "Goooooo, 'Bags!"
Could they have thought of a worse name?
Actually, yes. How about...