Youngster in the Suit on a Bike

There is a young man who works where I work who rides a small motorcycle to work. I see him from time to time because we both park our motorcycles in the same place, though he arrives later than I do and leaves later than I leave. But over time, we have occasionally seen each other at our motorcycles when I leave late or he leaves early.

I see this young man around the building. He works in an entry-level position, and has been here for about two years. What I notice is that he always wears a suit. I asked him once about that, and his response was the typical brainwashed phrase from the Dress for Success bloggers — that is, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.”

Okay, all well and good. We may differ on the suit stuff. He will realize as he matures that a suit isn’t the only thing on which a rising professional is judged.

But what has bothered me about the suit (and dress shoes), is that he wears it while…

…riding his motorcycle! Yep, dress shoes, thin little sockies, suit jacket and tie flapping in the wind… with a full-face helmet.

We smile and say “hey” to each other, but I always frown at his footwear — dress shoes. Besides being generally yucky, leather-soled dress shoes are dangerous to wear when operating a motorcycle. And a suit on a bike? No protection at all if involved in a crash. Also, I have seen this guy in the bathroom brushing dirt off his suit. Why wear something that you are fearful of getting dirty?

Now to top it off, this youngster goes to the gym every day. He brings a gym bag with a change of clothes, including sneakers. So I have often wondered that if he brings a change of clothes to use for the gym, then why couldn’t he wear decent motorcycle-suitable clothes and boots to ride to work, then change to dress clothes when he gets here?

I finally had nerve enough to ask him that question yesterday. His response made sense: “I don’t have anywhere to store my suit on my bike without causing it to wrinkle.”

I asked about road dirt, and he said that he only “touched up” his pants from time to time and didn’t find it a problem. He did admit, however, that he keeps a spare pair of dress pants at his desk in case he gets sprayed from a car riding through a puddle.

So while I was speaking with him, I asked about the dress shoes. His response: “I couldn’t imagine wearing boots … not with a suit!” His visceral reaction was evident. I tried to explain the dangers of leather-soled shoes, but he wasn’t having any of it. “No way would I wear boots to work!”

To that remark, I said, “well, there’s no way I would wear those things…,” pointing to his wingtips. We just have to agree to disagree on that.

But I did have one small win. I asked him why he wore a tie while riding, especially in hot weather. He agreed and said that he usually carries his tie (in a tie case, no less) on his bike and puts it on in the bathroom when he is cleaning off his suit pants.

Well, this was interesting. I think as this young man matures, he will get over the enthusiasm for the suit shit. He doesn’t need to wear one. I don’t, and I was selected as employee of the year. Figure that?

Life is short: wear boots when riding a motorcycle; always.

2 thoughts on “Youngster in the Suit on a Bike

  1. I’m reminded of a situation that happened a couple of years ago for a co-worker who is a biker. He was riding his Harley on a particularly winding road in the country. A deer ran right in front of him. It happened so quickly that he was unable to avoid hitting it. He was thrown from the bike and it was damaged beyond repair. He emerged with only a few scratches. He credits this by the fact that he was wearing his helmet, boots, proper pants for riding, and a sturdy jacket. All these absorbed the impact he would have experienced. The deer ran away unscathed.

    Whenever I see a young person riding without the proper gear, I think back to this experience and the safety lessons you’ve taught us over the years.

    Keep up the good work!

    –Kevin

  2. That young man may not get the message now but at some point, he will. And as you are always telling us, “Wear your boots” and hopefully someday, that young man will be wearing his boots on his motorcycle, even with a suit.

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