I’ve been wearing Dickies pants for a long time now. Just admitting the fact reminds me of the country song (by Barbara Mandrel I think), titled, I was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool. Actually I don’t remember Country ever being cool. I do remember seeing Barbra Mandrel (I think), on TV singing the song when, suddenly, George Jones staggered out on stage and started to sing (?), I was stumbling, when stumbling wasn’t cool or something to that effect. It was a touching moment. Anyway, I wore Dickies when Dickies wasn’t (sic) cool
I became a Dickies aficionado many years ago when I worked for a telemarketing firm that required its employees to wear “business attire” while on the job. At first I thought that it was a foolish requirement. We were on the phone for crying out loud – no one could see us. People would hate us for calling during the dinner hour whether our shoes where shined or not. But then I was provided the privilege of viewing a training film which proved the importance of business attire for telemarketers.
NARRATOR: The way you dress tells the world who you are – as surely as wearing a placard around your neck with your life history written out in detail upon it, tells the world who you are.
CUT TO A SCENE WITH A SLOPPY EMPLOYEE WEARING BLUE JEANS, TEE SHIRT AND PLACARD: Dudes! I’m Bob!
NARRATOR: Your manner of dress affects your job performance as well – as surely as drinking, smoking marijuana and leaping from a twenty story building without a parachute will affect your job performance.
CUT TO A SCENE WITH A SLOPPY EMPLOYEE WEARING BLUE JEANS, TEE SHIRT AND PLACARD, SMOKING A JOINT WITH A BEER IN HIS HAND WHILE IN FREE-FALL FROM A TWENTY STORY BUILDING: Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudes!
I didn’t want to be a Bob on the job, so immediately after the training film I rushed out to Spokane Washington’s epicenter of fashion – The General Store – to buy some appropriate business attire. It didn’t make sense to break the bank on a wardrobe that only Bob would see, so after careful deliberation, I decided to buy a full selection of Dickies work pants. Dickies were the obvious choice; they’re made primarily of plastic which means they have that crisp, clean professional look which wears well under even the most rigorous of conditions – like when the person in the calling station next to you arrives at work with a hangover and vomits on your pants before taking the rest of the day off. Plus, they’re really cheap.
Dickies come in a variety of hues and – after considering the full line of fashion options – I decided to buy one of each available color: forest green, navy blue, black, rust brown, tan and olive green. Since time was short, I bought the best fit I could find – and ended up with pants that were a couple sizes too big. Now, fifteen years later I still have those original Dickies. They finally fit – and they never wear out. I mean that literally. Indeed, old Dickies are recycled and used in automobile tire manufacturing. Don’t believe me? Well, the next time you go to a Les Schwab tire center, look at the sticky tag on a new tire. There, in the fine print, you will read, “composed of 78% post consumer Dickies work pants.” In fact you probably remember the law suit Dickies brought against Michelin Tire Company. Their contention was that the fat white doughnut looking guy was wearing Dickies work clothes and the Dickies company had not been consulted nor compensated in any way for the use of their product in Michelin’s national ad campaign. As I recall it took quite some doing, but the attorney for the defendant was able to finally convince the court the fat doughnut guy was a stack of tires not an overweight maintenance man decked out in a full line of Dickies work wear.
Anyway, the first day back to work after my shopping spree I wore forest green Dickies with a white oxford shirt from J. C. Penny’s and a vintage flowered tie I hadn’t worn since 1976. I was a bit concerned I would be mistaken for a janitor dressed for a night on the town (you know, bowling, and dinner at Denny’s). However, as I stepped out of the elevator onto the calling floor, one of my co-workers, Carlo – a nineteen year old former L.A. gangster – stopped in his tracks and stared.
“Dude! Like, were you get those pants?” Which is only half of what Carlo said because everything Carlo said was laced with expletives.
“Uh, at The General Store on Division. Why?”
“Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! They’re, like, excellent!”
I glanced down at my oversized forest green pants with the red Dickies logo above the right rear pocket, straightened my 70’s flowered tie and nodded nonchalantly as I strode toward my cubicle.
The next day Carlo showed up wearing a pair of baggy forest green Dickies hanging down around his knees. The blue boxers he flaunted above his pants sported a pattern of wild-eyed bleeding skulls grinning with gap-toothed glee. His white dress shirt was bunched at the waist and he wore a skinny black tie which was tied so long that it hung down to cover areas that his pants should have. I had to admit his tie pulled the ensemble together in a way my neck wear of the previous day had failed to do.
“Dude! Like, I’m liking these pants!”
“I see that. Very fine trousers” I said as I glanced toward the window. “But don’t you think your telemarketing performance will improve if you hitch them up a bit?”
“Dude! Like I’m like dressed in biz-ness at-tire so what are you like talking about?
Carlo said all of this without a hint of animosity – or irony – so I merely smiled and shrugged as I bid him adieu and made my way to a state of the art telemarketing booth.
I hadn’t washed my new Dickies yet (I was wearing the rust brown pants, paired with a royal blue shirt from J. C. Penny’s, complimented by a paisley patterned tie), so they made a peculiar whistling noise as I stepped across the floor. The sound attracted the attention of the shift manager. He looked up as I passed and murmured something about business attire when – out of the corner of my eye – I saw his face take on a shocked expression. I turned and saw that Carlo had stopped directly in front of the boss.
“Dude! Like I’m dressed for the job!”
Everything Carlo said was delivered at maximum volume.
“Like, maybe him (here Carlo pointed my direction), and me should, like, show the rest of the guys what biz-ness at-tire looks like.”
The floor manager was a timid man and his voice shook as he spoke. “Sure, why not.” Clearly he was afraid of Carlo.
Anyway, in the end, Carlo and I were presented to the crew that afternoon as examples of how everyone at the firm should dress. Notwithstanding, I don’t recall anyone – except Carlo and I – ever wore Dickies to work. I do remember Carlo was consistently one of the top performers on the job (the only time I heard him clean up his language and turn down the volume was when the computer kicked another call his way). Unfortunately he was arrested for marijuana possession and underage drinking after only a few weeks of work. I heard the cops nabbed him as he gazed dreamily out the window of a twenty story office building downtown.