Yeti made a short run of candy pink hard coolers for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My very first cooler shopping experience had pushed me away from hard coolers because the interior dimensions could not accommodate two vessels. Also, the cooler was ten pounds heavier. I ignored all of this earlier learning. I imagined that having a pink cooler would help do a lot of explaining for me. Instead of getting the question: “Wow, this bag is so heavy. What on earth are you carrying?!” Pink made space for a new set of assumptions. I thought TSA agents would delight in a pink cooler full of breastmilk and treat it with tender care. I thought of Instagram images of the pink cooler traveling the world as an icon for Milk-in-Tow. On the first and only trip, I took with it my co-worker inadvertently validated this expectation of visual branding by exclaiming, “this must be your milk.”
Not only was the pink cooler pricey, but it also required supporting equipment. I spent too many hours finding an impressively compact travel dolly and a perfectly sized canvas bag that could hold the dolly and the cooler together. The $11 bag felt like a steal compared to paying a per-piece baggage fee. I hadn’t stopped to think about how overly optimistic it was to zip two heavy and sharp items into a cute canvas sack and send it through baggage claim. This oversight became apparent as it wound around the carousel showing visible signs of destruction, holes, torn handles, a splitting zipper.
I wish I’d tested this out before jetting out. The confident strut of a woman gliding through the airport with a dolly toting a classy pink cooler never came to be. Instead, I haggled for days trying to balance a glossy cooler on a metal dolly. Bungie cords were no match for the weight and slip of the cooler. Every twenty-five feet, I found myself gathering up the mess of parts from the floor, trying to reassemble my vision of how this should be going. Within a day, I gave up totally. I limped along with fifty plus pounds of equipment in my arms. I was slugging the lot onto counters and into taxis. Looking up exacerbated as people looked back at me as if to say ‘what is this crap?’ I started to plan a second life that I could give to the pink cooler. One thing was for sure; this maiden voyage was also the retirement voyage for the hard cooler carrying breastmilk.