Every morning at work, I attend and speak briefly at a morning briefing of the Big Cheese and his direct reports, all leaders of the organization for which I work. And every morning, without fail, I catch sight of one of the regular attendees checking out my boots.
Has he said anything?
… never, for two years. Until yesterday morning.
Yesterday as the briefing ended, the Big Cheese and his seconds scurried off to prepare for another all-day meeting. I did not have to join them, and neither did Mr. Boot-Checker-Outter (I will refer to him in this post as “BCO” from now on).
As BCO and I were walking out of the conference room, BCO said, “I can tell every day what vehicle you used to drive to work,” then smiled.
I asked, “how?”
BCO: By your boots. If you wear cowboy boots and it is cold out but not wet, you drove your car. If you wear boots with rubber soles, it is raining or snowing and you drove your truck. If you wear motorcycle boots, you drove your Harley.
Hmmm… close. I don’t own or drive a car, but he’s got me on the other points.
Me: Well, you caught me. Yep, you can tell whether I drove my truck or Harley to work by my boots. Thanks for noticing.
BCO: You have mentioned in some of your briefings that you ride a Harley, and last week when we had a little snow, you mentioned something about your truck. But you don’t own a Lexus? I thought I saw you getting out of one in the parking lot.
Me: Nope, I don’t own a Lexus. I don’t need a status-symbol car. My old truck is fine for days that I don’t ride my Harley.
BCO: Okay, must have been someone else. The guy getting out of that Lexus was about your height and had the same hair color, but he was wearing a suit and I know you don’t wear suits… a truck then. Is that why you wear cowboy boots?
Me: Not really. I wore boots well before I could drive or own any vehicle. I drive a truck because I like the utility and facility with snow. Actually, my truck is an SUV, not a pickup.
BCO: I have an SUV also, a Lexus. I’m one of those status-symbol guys you referred to.
Me: I’m sorry if I offended. I just don’t want to have a vehicle that costs substantially more at purchase and to insure. My 13-year-old SUV meets my needs. Sometimes I haul loads of building supplies, and some other times I haul loads of old ladies with mountains of groceries. As I said, I like the utility.
BCO: I like the technology of my Lexus. For example, I can place and receive calls without taking my hands off the wheel.
Me: Lots of new vehicles can do that now. For me, I will not use a mobile device while driving, period. I don’t care if it’s hands-free. I lost a friend who was killed by some using a cell phone behind the wheel, and I vowed on his grave never to introduce such a distraction while I am driving. People are nutty enough on the road. My commute is rather short anyway, so they can live without speaking with me for the half-hour it takes me to get home.
BCO: Well, anyway, I just thought I’d mention that I like your style and, um, courage … wearing boots every day.
Me: It’s not a courageous thing as much as it is who I am. I wear boots… with dress clothes and even suits sometimes. But also with jeans, leathers, whatever. It’s just what I do.
BCO: Sounds good. As I said, I admire your style.
Me: Thanks. Are you interested in a pair of boots? They make really nice boots that go well with the suits you wear every day.
BCO: Who, me?
Me: Yes, you. I betcha you’d like boots if you tried.
BCO: I’d have to talk with the wife about that. I might be interested, but she has a vote.
Me: Why does your wife have a vote on what you wear on your feet?
BCO: I dunno… she just does. She buys my clothes, takes them to the cleaners, and makes sure that my wardrobe is up-to-date and in style. You know how it is with us guys… doesn’t your wife do the same thing?
Me: [I am beyond disguising my relationship] I have a husband, not a wife. While he handles the clothes cleaning, he doesn’t tell me what to wear. I’m my own man.
BCO: [without batting an eye] I guess that’s an advantage of your being married to a man, eh?
… we laughed…
Then we went about our respective days. Who knows, perhaps some day I’ll get BCO into a pair of boots.
Life is short: wear boots!