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Say What?

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Appearances

This article is dedicated to the memory of Frances Swanson one of the best dressed women to ever grace Sandpoint or wherever she happened to be. May she always be missed.

Over the years I have observed that, around here, how you are dressed doesn’t seem to mean much until you go to town with either a tie on or wearing a suit coat. You can almost count on someone asking “what is going on?” Since I come from the old school where appearances do count knowing the consequences of not looking too bummy is sort of a laugh.

As all the new graduates start looking for a job I would like to suggest they try to look at least AS GOOD as the prospective employer. If you are content to look like the average customer you start out in a hole. I doubt any of your recent teachers ever heard of “one-upmanship,” especially when most of them appear to have worn out the idea of casual.

One-upmanship is the art (or is it a science?) of having a slight advantage over the other guy. It isn’t like a big weight advantage in rasslin’ or being taller. It is simply improving your stance when it counts. In the old days, when you went into a bank looking for a loan, there was something to be said that looking down and out was a help. The banker would be fittingly attired in a suit and tie so that he looked like he was successful in what he was doing. So the loan applicant should look like he could make the payments, not like he couldn’t even spell payment. Looking a shade better than the banker is what is known as ‘one upmanship’. And it works.

Down in south Texas, Uvalde, is a beautiful bank with Oriental rugs on all the floors and real works of art on the walls. The many women employees wear dresses and are neatly coiffed. The men are all wearing ties and suits (pants and coats match), no jeans. Now this is ranching country. And if you are a rancher down there you are a real rancher who has cowboys working for him. The customers are the only ones wearing boots!

The point of mentioning a bank in the town where a former Vice-President originated is to try to get across the idea that looking good isn’t a sin. By looking good you may create the impression you are not struggling to earn your GED.

On the other hand, if appearances are not everything why is it I get annoyed watching the people who are holding up traffic on the by-pass boon doggle by just standing there? To the big boss, assuming there is one, might I suggest you have a little one-on-one with the folks being paid with my tax dollars to not give the appearance they really don’t have that much to do? Lord knows the place has been surveyed to death.

If there has to be a serious conversation about the next move please do it other than standing on the right-of-way. Also, try to coordinate the flow of materials so that when the traffic is being delayed you at least get the impression that something is happening, not like yesterday. When you have been waiting it is discouraging to know that the project was going nowhere in the meanwhile. How it looks is called appearance.

If you are still with me and have managed to fight off the cry of conformity, let me carry on.

To those who consider themselves private and to those who pride themselves in “I don’t care what anyone else thinks” it is worth pointing out that how you look speaks volumes. I know that I am getting close to the dreaded word profile but no matter what the warped liberals say, we all profile. It is part of nature. Animals do it and so do we. At any rate your appearance is a statement even if you don’t intend it to be. So is your beard, your hair, your jeans, your T-shirt etc.etc. Why do you think they invented lipstick? Tank tops, ugh..

Eons ago someone said that “first impressions are lasting impressions” or something like that. In any event they were right on, or for you late bloomers, “cool.” How you perceive someone is largely determined by that first look. So why not try to look your best? Get over the idea that grunge is in. Looking like something the “cat dragged in” is a statement in itself. If the crotch of your shorts is closer to your ankles than your knees you don’t need an advertising agency. Have you ever heard of self image?.

And what is all this crap about “casual Fridays?” Around here, ‘most everyone is so laid back getting casual is alive and well. Giving a thought to how others see you is apparently not taught either by word or deed. That ship is overdue. Clean and sharp is money in the bank!

I am sure there is a line of reasoning that stresses the inner qualities are what counts. That “clothes make the man” is some sort of old fashioned idea that went out when grandpa expired. Appearances only count when it comes to restoring that old clunker? The antique boat show is all about appearances? So are the Oscars, that “Old House” and on and on. So appearances do count. Ask Michelle. Try it, you will like it.

P.S. Remember, new jeans are only for funerals and weddings (semi-formal). Slightly worn jeans are “country casual” and, when worn out, the default style.

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Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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