The passage below comes from a book, What The F. The author says this when announcers make speech errors.

Come on, step up your game! This is public radio! You don’t think I donated just for the tote bag, do you?

In this I cannot figure out what the tote bag means in this context. I know its literal meaning but that meaning doesn't make any sense in this sentence.

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    Many charities send people who contribute over X dollars a gift. Public Radio often sends a tote bag with their logo on it. The recipient is supposed to carry this tote bag around, to give notice that she is among the cultural elite, who have given to public radio. Saying one didn't donate for the tote bag is another form of giving notice; one is a serious person with a serious agenda, above petty materialistic considerations. (IMO, such gifts are an illustration of "no good deed goes unpunished". Donate and you will receive a piece of c**p.)
    – ab2
    Mar 17, 2017 at 12:48
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    In the context of bags, "tote" is the name of a type of bag. Google image results for "tote bag" will show you the typical style.
    – MDHunter
    Mar 17, 2017 at 12:48
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    The implication is the author habitually makes donations to radio stations (though he admits that in this specific case he hasn't made a donation). And we must suppose that the radio stations he does donate to sometimes send out marketing materials (coffee mugs, tote bags, etc. emblazoned with their corporate logo) to such patrons, but that the author makes his donations purely out of an altruistic desire to help fund the good work of the station, not in order to collect such trinkets. Mar 17, 2017 at 12:52
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    @FumbleFingers I think the author is an NPR donor: he's not denying the donation, he's denying the imputed motivation. Mar 17, 2017 at 12:56
  • @StoneyB: Dunno why you say that. I went to the trouble of adding a link to the question text, from which you'll see that it continues with And then I remember that I didn’t donate this year, and I feel remorseful, but then I rationalize not donating with the thought that if the broadcasters didn’t bungle their delivery all the time, maybe they’d deserve my money. By implication, he habitually makes such donations, but didn't in this case. Mar 17, 2017 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


I'm guessing it has something to do with the donors of said radio show receiving little trinkets or gifts, like a tote bag. The speaker is essentially saying "Look, do you really think I donated money just for a tote bag?", since he could very well go out and buy one if that's what he really wanted. As a donor (though not really--as he later clarifies, he forgot to donate), the author holds the hosts of the radio show to a higher standard and expects them to not make such errors during a public show, even though he acknowledges "that speech errors are an inevitable part of speech production".

  • I think it's a trivial question, but I have to upvote simply because you came up with the same word as me - trinkets. Mar 17, 2017 at 12:53
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    Here is an example of the sort of tote bags given to pubic radio station supporters. Mar 17, 2017 at 12:55
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    It looks pretty clear from the description that the comment is about the announcer's slip-of-the-tongue, not the content of the program. In fact, the full text at the link confirms this, but you probably composed your answer before that was added.
    – 1006a
    Mar 17, 2017 at 12:55
  • @1006a Yep, didn't see the full version before. Just read it, and I'll revise my response accordingly :) Mar 17, 2017 at 12:57
  • Edit looks good. +1
    – 1006a
    Mar 17, 2017 at 14:13

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