So, for my day job I book, maintain and curate a vintage theater. This means lots of meetings, with business people, civic leaders, event organizers, potential clients, etc. It also means crawling around in the basement(s), crawlspaces, attic(s), loading/unloading stage equipment, hiring/firing employees, (I’m up to two!), purchasing, planning…. pant, pant, pant.
Yesterday I had to install a sound system in the ballroom of the theater. This involved several hours of locating points in the structure that would be safe to hang speakers from, and then drilling holes down through the ceiling so that we could drop chains down, and then installing the hanging hardware. In other words, I was crawling around in an attic for half a day, digging around in blown-in insulation.
All of this to say, I wore my construction clothes to work. The same clothes I wore to work for nearly a decade. Work boots, jeans, a t-shirt, and old Carhart jacket, and a hat. From the reaction I got, you would have though I was wearing a spacesuit. A really, really filthy spacesuit.
I walked into the coffee shop. “Wow, you look… really dirty. Kinda… you know, NASCAR, redneck-y. I mean, I know you’re not…” her voice trailed off.
I walked into the hardware store to purchase some of the previously mentioned hardware. “Well, you are looking kinda dirty today!”
I bump into a civic leader in one of the aisles – and again the look of surprise and a comment about the un… cleanliness of my appearance.
I go in to the theater, and I am greeted by my assistant with much the same greeting.
So, here’s what I am wondering. Did everyone think I was dirty for the last decade, and just keep it to themselves? Why? Why does wearing clothes that you can get dirty in seem to equal that you are in fact, dirty? Why is this a bad thing? Are you all a bunch of self-important, better-than, first world snobs, or is that just me?
Am I taking this way too personally? Why do I find my identity and pride in a socio-economic skill-set and appearance that I too have sneered at and shown disregard for?