I have two jackets. One is a forty dollar brown blazer that I’ve had for a few years now. The other a worn out mechanic’s jacket, while just now a year old has been torn up from working on trains. I suppose I have three counting the no longer water proof REI jacket which allows me to blend into the northwest in such a way that no one really seems to notice me, which is fine, and perhaps even ideal. However, I have noticed considerable differences in people’s reaction to me in either of the aforementioned outerwear. Like polarizing opposites I am a sheep in wolf’s clothing, and the other way around.
flickr: elisha page
While in the blazer, I get smiles and looks of approval from passerby’s. This is especially true when I am out with my boys. People walking their dogs wave and smile. Maybe its the boys you say. Yet even without them the reaction is equally there, every where I go. The grocery store, target… ok so off the top of my head that seems like the only two places I go. I should also say that I get odd looks from those less fortunate. I know the look well. It is the look of hatred, jealousy, and disapproval of the bourgeoisie.
While in the mechanic’s jacket, those who usually smile and wave suddenly avoid eye contact. Especially if I haven’t shaved in a few days. Maybe I look intimidating. At 6’2″ I could give them the benefit of the doubt. More interestingly though are the people who do engage me while wearing my battered jacket. Suddenly people are more friendly and casual, not afraid to refer to me as man and hey and a variety of other one syllable greetings. While at Target last week I was approached by a meth zombie asking for money. He pleaded that he and his wife were both homeless. “I don’t carry cash” I replied. I saw his wife on the other side of the parking lot on the way out.
I started thinking. I don’t think that I’ve been panhandled while wearing the blazer. Then yesterday as I was stepping out of the police station a guy approached me, once he looked up he walked away. Who knows maybe he figured I was a detective or something.