#609 Finding hidden compartments in things you already own

My friend Rob welcomes visitors to his swanky apartment by flash-bulbing them in the face with a dusty old Polaroid camera.

After the picture slides out and the  color fades in he staples it to a foam board in his front hallway. Over time he’s created a giant collage presumably titled Anybody Who’s Ever Visited Me and turned a blank white wall into an artsy conversation piece.

When some friends and I crashed with Rob a year ago he promptly flash-bulbed us in the face a couple times. He handed me the extra pic while sticking the first on the wall and I stuffed it in my bags and forgot about it … forgot about it, that is,  until last week when I noticed a tiny white corner sticking out of my suitcase and rediscovered the blurry photo inside a brand new secret pocket!

Yes, finding hidden compartments in things you already own is like striking oil in your own backyard, people.

After all, you’ve known your old pal Backpack forever. You know her left zipper’s gummed up and you’ve watched with teary eyes as her stitching slowly ripped off her left strap. So when you notice a secret built-in pencil case pouch deep down in her inner shadows, it’s a mind-blowing moment. Suddenly she’s got a whole new strut in her step and trot in her walk, like she popped back out of backpack rehab.

Same thing with Bathing Suit. Sure, his zip-string is loose and dangly, he’s covered in lint balls, and his bright red logo has faded to a dull pink, but when you first notice that tiny mesh pocket for holding keys hanging inside his elastic waistband, your brain blasts to outer space. He’s like a hunched over old man suddenly tossing away his cane and then tap-dancing across the sidewalk.

So today let’s give thanks and give cheers to the surprise sunglasses holder in the roof of your car, that second pocket in your navy blue blazer, and the hidden change holder riding like a treasure chest deep down in your car’s arm rest.


(Big news — book cover released today and we upped it to 400 pages!)

Photos from: here, here, and here

39 thoughts on “#609 Finding hidden compartments in things you already own

  1. Well, gosh, I can’t believe how excellent your descriptions are. I can’t tell ya how many times I’ve had gummed up pockets in an old backpack haha. It is truly a unique relationship!

    This kind of makes me want to stash random one dollar bills just so I can forget about them and find them later.

    Your friend’s polaroid idea is fantastic and hilarious. Makes me want one again!

    (Nice end pic, too!)

  2. WOO-HOO!

    I’d actually tweeted this specific thing to you on December 11th! Preemptive AWESOME!

    Granted, you took it into more detail, and that old tap-dancing man thing is so vivid I can practically see it, but, still.

    Also, that book’s just getting longer and longer. Thanks! But I do hope that you’ll be able to have some form of rest when it’s finished.

  3. As always, fantabulous descriptions. Maybe after your book (will be multiple Neil volumes right?) is published you can become a columnist for the NYT, like make it your version of The Slow Lane in the Financial Times, but not financial, strictly awesomeness.

    The Awesome Lane
    NYT contributor.

    Yes! Please.

    and i swear it has so many pockets i can’t even begin to name them all. it’s amazing. very true, secret compartments are great

  5. lol – I was giving away a rather lame bag (an work freebie) to a coworker who “needed it” when I learned of the hidden backpack straps, should straps, and extension pocket. I almost asked for it back but figured that would be tacky (and, really, I didn’t need a backpack any more than I needed the original bag).

  6. Oh this is so true!! Finding hidden compartments not only brings the old backpack or whatnot back to life, it gives it a new life! Suddenly it’s like you have a brand new product that you didn’t have to pay for. Besides, who doesn’t love having a hundred little compartments and pockets!?

  7. that happened to me about a month ago. I have a desk that I thought only had 7 secret drawers in it, but then I found 2 more which were behind 2 drawers and I was so excited I was going crazayyyy and it was amazing.

  8. I have owned this hat for a long time now, just over 3 years. A couple of weeks ago I had an itch that needed some scratchin’ and that’s when the magic happened. I felt something peculiar. Rectangular in shape. I doffed my cap to inspect what it was I had felt through the cap. I thought maybe it was something that fell into it when it was resting on my side table, a reciept of some kind. Eureka, it was a change pocket to stash extra money, I guess for that in case of emergency moment where you are being robbed. I mean really, what criminal is going to steal your hat? And that is….awesome!

  9. I bought a car some time ago. I’ve had it for about half a year. And one day im just playing with the dashboard and pushing knobs and stuff. All of a sudden a hidden compartment comes out…..
    OMG! This car has an MP3 radio player!

  10. When I moved 2 years ago, I bought a souvenir drink coozie from my neighborhood bar and put it in my jacket pocket. Sadly, when I got home the sock-stealing dryer gnomes had found a new target. I searched all the pockets a million times and couldn’t find the coozie. Then last May, I was hiking in Chile and remembered that the jacket had armpit vents. I unzipped them and what did I find in there? My coozie! It was weird that I had to go all the way to Chile to find it.

  11. Rob’s wall, this post and secret compartments, especially in back-packs and swim shorts, all very impressive:)

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