Explain your dangly bits!

OK, question.

What on earth is this?

dsc02012 The answer I’m looking for here is not “Erm, it’s a middle-aged Estonian bloke drinking a cup of coffee”. I’m actually referring to the yellow diamond-shaped thing hanging from his coat.

Could someone please tell me what this is all about?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing them everywhere. Some are attached to handbags; some hang from coat/trouser pockets; some seem to be clipped to jackets; some dangle from collars.

They are not all the same shape or colour, either. The one in this picture is like a reflector, which is a common one, but the choice seems to be varied. Variations I’ve spotted to date include: round smiley faces, warning triangles, plain coloured squares, sparkly circles, white with some scribbled writing, and a Christmassy snowflake.

What’s going on?

The first few times I saw them, I thought that the wearers had had the misfortune of forgetting to take the label off their new coat. Then, when I got lightly smacked in the face by one as I was innocently getting on to a tram, I realised that that was about the fourth time I’d seen one that day. Surely it would be quite unusual for large numbers of Tallinners to have bought new coats on the same day, each of them forgetting to remove very similar tags? And indeed, since then, I see more and more of the things every time I go out. Dozens of them, all around me… and not a clue what they are. It’s maddening, and I’m a little worried that I’m going to lose my perspective quite soon and grab an unsuspecting stranger by the collar, screaming “What are these things?!” before being hauled off by the politsei.

So please help me. Is it a fashion thing? You know I don’t do fashion. It could become trendy to wear black bags and I wouldn’t know a thing about it until suddenly one day I noticed that I was surrounded by people in black bags. If this is some kind of fashion craze, I’d just like to know. What are they? What are they for? What do they do? I’ve considered the possibility that they are helpful tags to attach to one’s phone or purse or something (like a keyring), but quickly dismissed that idea on the grounds that such an invention could only have come from a pickpocket, and only an eejit would consider having a brightly coloured tag fluttering around on a cord that leads to their valuable possessions.

Which leaves me with the fashion option, but I’m not at all convinced. It’s not like these are worn exclusively by teenagers, like the chains that goth kids wear. I’ve seen them on small children, teens, sophisticated young professionals, little old ladies, ordinary-looking housewives, and workmen. There’s no “typical” person wearing these things. And this has the unsettling effect of making me think that I’m missing out on something important.

What are they? Is it a worldwide fashion craze, or a uniquely Estonian advent custom? Please… someone… enlighten me.

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6 thoughts on “Explain your dangly bits!

  1. oliver says:

    Simply answering your question would be to easy ;)

    “Don’t forget your reflector, it’s hard to forget you”

    Commercials on local MTV:

    “You don’t forget your pants, do you? Then why forget reflector?”

  2. Yay, thanks Oliver! This really has been driving me insane. I presume it’s because it’s dark all the time now, and these are much less ugly on the eye than huge hi-vis jackets.

    I want one now! :)

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