I wear a suit most days, and a tie some. Its not really a preference, more of a tool. In the course of a normal day I may have 5 or 6 meetings, sometimes with my boss, sometimes with my boss's boss, sometimes with vendors or ad execs, and sometimes with my staff. All of the big shots tend to wear suits, so I play that game. All of the little shots wear whatever they effing want, but when I have to be a boss (which sometimes means being a dick), I respect them enough to dress like one (a boss, not a dick).
Also, when you boil it all down, I am a commodity, like a racehorse or a car or a watch. I'm a commodity that somebody spent a decent amount of money on, and when somebody spends a decent amount of money on something, and they have to look at it every day, they usually want to feel good about their investment. Sure, my car runs well, and the blinkers work, but I also want it to look good when I toss the keys to the valet. So for all of these reasons, I wear a suit.
Now on an average commute, I'd say about a quarter of the people on the train are wearing suits. If you're on an early peaker, the ratio goes up to maybe half. So I see alot of effing suits. Old, new, cheap, expensive, too tight, too long, ill-fitted, bad-ass, pin-striped, peak lapeled, glen plaid, three button, two button, unbuttoned, missing buttons, out of style, overstyled, had it since college, should only be worn to a funeral, brown, blue, black, searsucker, cotton, wool, chino, Prada (for the younguns), Polo (for the grownups), Brooks Brothers (for the lemmings). You name it, I've seen it. But there is one suit that I rarely see. A suit so unique that I sometimes go months or even years without a sighting, and then, when I've almost completely forgotten about its existence, I catch a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye as I ascend up the stairs and out of the station. There it is, in all it's denim magnificence. The Jean Suit.
A dude in a Jean Suit is a dude who is saying eff you to the suits of the world. I will not be a slave to your fashion laws, your shackles of style. I will go my own way. The way of the Levi. The way of the Wrangler. A dude in a Jean Suit lives life as a free man. He wakes up and says "today, I will wear my jeans, because they are comfortable and I enjoy them", and then, without even the slightest hesitation, he says "and I will also wear my denim jacket, because, it too, is comfortable". And then finally, just because he knows he can, he throws a metrosexual leather satchel over his shoulder and strides confidently out the door. Point, set and match.
An homage to Tim O'Brien (the writer, not the illustrator, although I am a fan of both). Sidebar: I once met Tim O'Brien (the writer) at a book party and he was quite drunk and hit on my wife. I like to call that a twofer, two great things happening at once, meeting a well known person who happens to be falling down drunk, and, having him flirt with your wife. Anyway, that's a story for a later time...
All hard core commuters carry some sort of bag that doubles as a briefcase / first aid kit / bookbag / life support system. Mine happens to be a 10 year old black Tumi computer bag with a non matching gym bag strap that I added a few months ago when the original strap couldn't take it anymore. It's a nondescript, shabby yet functional bag. If a thousand commuters all went to lunch together, and we all checked our bags before we sat down, I would have a very hard time telling the coat check person which one was mine, and then I'd have to tip more because of how long he would look. What a man or woman carries every day in their bag is the product of a well worked equation, balancing necessity and comfort, need and speed. And of course weight. It almost always comes down to weight. How much of a burden are you willing to bear everyday as you stare into the abyss? Here's mine...
• 15" MacBook Pro Laptop. By far the heaviest thing in the bag, but also the most essential, for without this, there would be no blog. Your welcome. • ATT Wireless USB card. Costs me about $60 a month. I am presently trying to pressure my employer to give me a company laptop card, so that I may negate my contract on this device. I'll keep you posted. •Keys. Pared down to the bare minimum to help keep weight and clutter down. The ring has a house key, a car key, and an office key. It also has a pink plastic laniard ribbon made by my daughter in camp two years ago. Worth the extra weight. The keys are hooked onto a plastic key clamp sewn into the Tumi. Whenever I look in the bag and the keys aren't on the hook, I panic. Lost keys means having to call the wife from the station and get her to bring me the spare set at 7:45pm on a weeknight. Never lose the keys my friend. • Iphone USB power chord with detachable wall plug. • Mophie battery skin for the iPhone. Because my iPhone battery lasts about two hours if I don't play the skeeball app (which I do enjoy). I also need the extra battery power so I can listen to a whole baseball game on my MLB app, which sucks up iPhone juice faster than a toddler on a teat. • V-Moda Earbuds (with extra pads). You get about 6 sets of extra silicone ear bud pads with the V-Moda's, and for some reason I carry them all. They come in different sizes, so you can match your particular earhole with a particular bud size. Whatever, they dont weigh much, so I bring em. SHAMELESS PROMOTIONAL MOMENT: I had an old pair of V-Moda's that broke. Out of warranty, no receipt. I sent them to V-Moda and they fixed them and mailed them back at no cost. I am a customer for life. •Glasses. I wear a pair of glasses every day, and I bring a spare pair in case something happens to my first pair, and then I have my fancy new Maui Jim prescription sunglasses, so yes, I carry three pairs of glasses. This might be an area where I could trim down. Maybe contacts... • Maps and Schedules. I carry those plastic laminated streetwise manhattan and transitwise manhattan maps, as well as a train schedule. All of these things have been replaced by apps on my phone, but I carry them anyway, I guess in case there's some sort of of nuclear attack and all the technology goes down and I really need to catch a subway. •Phones. Yep, plural. I have an iPhone 3G and a new company blackberry. I think this is mostly psychological, but I try not to mix any business technology with personal tech. Trust no one. In a month or so, I will also have a company laptop, which means I have to carry two laptops or chose one to leave at home. Or hire a sherpa. • Pens. 3 pilot G-2 o5's and a sharpie, always black, cuz im a newyahker. •Medical Supplies. I have a Provental inhaler for asthma, and 3 Zyrtec's for allergies. I carried bandaids for about 10 years, but everytime I cut myself, I was always in a place where they already had bandaids, so... • Yellow AMPAD Gold Fiber Quadrille letter sized pad. The best note pad ever. I think they use them on the space shuttle. •Business Cards. A set for my new job and a set for my personal business (just in case). •Personal Hygene. A small box of toothpicks, cuz I have some annoying gaps in my teeth that I need to clean out now and then, a packet of those listerine breath strips, a pack of trident bubblegum flavored gum, and seven individual Tucks Take-Along "Medicated Wipes". I highly recommend that last item for anyone who lives an "on-the-go" lifestyle and also happens to hold personal cleanliness in high regard. Without going into too much detail, it wouldn't be overstating it to say that the Tucks Take-Along has saved my ass more than once, literally and figuratively (badump bump).
Thats it. There are many things I've stopped carrying over the years. Books, newspapers, umbrellas, aspirin, food, drinks. All mostly because I don't like the extra weight. I like to think of myself as a lean mean commuting machine. Ready to sprint across town without being weighed down by thoughtful or inspiring reading material. The whole shooting match weighs about 8 pounds, which is why my right shoulder is so much stronger than my left. As far as I can tell, the contents of my bag suggest that I worry about being late, having fresh breath, being disconnected, and having a super clean caboose. All good qualities in any soldier. I offer my apologies to Tim O'Brien for stealing his concept, but since he once tried to bugger my wife, I guess we're even.