Picture, if you will, two men. The first is dressed in a brilliant-white button-down oxford, khaki pants and a dark blazer. An elegant, yet not too ostentatious, red tie hangs from a double windsor knot perfectly secured around his neck.
The other dude’s got some ripped ’n faded blue jeans sagging from his hiney, a T-shirt and is kickin’ it in flip-flops.
The initial gentleman is speaking from a podium set directly in front of city hall, yet he speaks so inaudibly that people in the 10th row can’t quite make out what he is saying. He has a number of leaflets and flyers ready for listeners to take home, along with a swag bag filled with goodies from local businesses.
The second guy is running from car to car in the Fred Meyer parking lot, putting scraps of cardboard and old newspaper with hastily scribble notes under the windshield wipers of the parked cars and trying to speak to anyone who will listen.
Who would you listen to?
Who would you pay attention to?
Most of my readers would probably be most drawn to the guy that looks good and seems to have all of his ducks in a row.
Problem is, he’s a quack; trying to sell time shares in Atlantis – and I’m not talking about a resort in the Bahamas – for a million bucks a week.
The other fellow is a genius who has spent the past two months buried in research on how to turn salt water into energy with nothing more than a nine-volt battery and a bucket and wants to spread the word to as many people as possible – for free.
Now, who you gonna listen to?
Of course, for this example, it only makes sense that the shabbily-dressed man is the one with life-altering information and the well-dressed man just wants your cash, but how often do we judge based solely on looks, and is it a bad thing?
Many Brookings sports fans are familiar with the sight of members of the boys soccer and boys basketball teams sporting shirts and ties on game days. They wear them – probably because they are told to – proudly, and I think it sets the tone for what happens on the playing surface. Dressing nicely and showing respect for the game shows class, and while it doesn’t mean the Bruins will win just because they wore a tie, it does indicate an understanding that the game is about more than just winning and losing.
The team is judged, in part, on their looks. They look like they are ready to win.
At the Eagle Point wrestling tournament on Saturday, I was approached by a young wrestler – not from Brookings-Harbor – who asked if the towels in the janitor’s closet were okay to be used in the showers. It took me a second to process the question, because I couldn’t figure out why he was asking me.
I told him that they probably weren’t to be used for his personal shower and that he might want to consider using a shirt or something else.
As he walked away, I wondered aloud why he would ask me. Maybe I looked official or something, and Coach Freeman pointed to the press credentials hanging from my neck and said, “Yeah, you kind of do.”
I’ve become so used to the credentials I don’t even think about them anymore, and didn’t realize a younger person might interpret them the way that wrestler did.
I was dressed properly for the event I was attending and was mistaken for someone in charge.
At Sunday’s bowling tournament, I wore a shirt, tie and sport coat and, because I looked professional, was granted access to places I may not have been granted access before .
I also had one of the Bruin bowlers ask me, “Where are you from? Are you from the paper or something?” I started laughing as I told him I was from Norway and then let him know that I was indeed from the paper and he had met me multiple times over the past few years. His response was that he didn’t recognize me in my tuxedo.
Maybe it’s time that I started wearing a shirt and tie every day. Or maybe I should just wear worn out jeans, a T-shirt and some sandals.