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  • Janyne McConnaughey, PhD

“Excuse me. I am Velcroed to your backpack.”

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Sometimes life is just so awkward. We had just been in Morro Bay where I bought this awesome dress when a guy in the luggage hold on the boat to Catalina, backed into me with his backpack. I was stuck—completely Velcroed. How do you tell someone that you are Velcroed to him? “Excuse me. I am Velcroed to your backpack.” Awkward. In my mind, I am remembering all the clothes I ruined by putting them in the dryer with something with Velcro on it. NO! “Don’t move please!” Slowly but surely I managed to free myself without damage. Yes, it was very awkward.

Velcro and I have a history. The first year I taught kindergarten was also the first year they put Velcro on children’s shoes. (It is really hard to remember a world without Velcro isn’t it?) Shoes that did not need to be tied fascinated every parent and therefore every child arrived with these amazing shoes. RIP, RIP. What to do?

I went and bought myself a pair of shoes with Velcro and the next morning I said, “This is Velcro ripping time. We will all RIP our Velcro ten times and then we will stop. No one RIPS Velcro until after class is over, OK?” We all agreed.

George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, got the idea for Velcro when cockleburs stuck to him on a walk. This was in 1941. I am not sure why it wasn’t put on children’s shoes until the 1970’s. Did you know the military had to stop using Velcro because the dust in Afghanistan clogged it? Velcro is not perfect, but it amazing. Also, did you know, Velcro is actually a brand name for “hook-and-loop fasteners? It is like Kleenex and Band-Aids. Being Velcroed is like Googling. We love to make verbs out of nouns and nouns out of brands.

I ran across some interesting information as I wrote this. “In 1968, Puma became the first major shoe company to offer a sneaker with Velcro fasteners. Other companies caught on (most notably Adidas and Reebok) and by the 1980s, every child in America seemed to own at least one pair of those three-strap Velcro wonders.” (Time: A Brief History of Velcro.) So you see, my first year of teaching was perfectly timed to catch the Velcro wave—just like my amazing loopy dress was perfectly suited to be Velcroed to that man’s backpack.

So much in life is all about timing. Perfect timing can turn an ordinary event into a memorable moment. I could have lived my whole life without being Velcroed to a man’s backpack. What a loss.

Sometimes timing is created intentionally, but often it is serendipitous. It just happens. It is that moment when two people meet and a friendship is born. It is that moment when someone is in just the right place at the right time. Some say fate, some say God. All say blessings. Funny, happy, wonderful life moments—we treasure them all.

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