Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pride and The Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit

My Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit from Amazon
I've been in upper management now for three months. I look back with a smile on the decades of wearing comfortable scrubs and tennis shoes. Attire was an afterthought since just about everyone I worked with was in hospital scrubs. Being the overnight employee also added to the blase attitude because I simply didn't see many people on my small town hospital shift.

Enter the world of management. Sport coats, vibrant ties, slacks and shiny shoes are the norm now. The weekend before I started my new job I visited the local Men's Wearhouse hoping to attain a management wardrobe. Having spent all my money moving back and forth between Arizona and Oklahoma, I was pleased to get approved for a store credit line.

As luck would have it, there was a Buy One, Get One sale on the day of my shopping spree. It had been years (high school?) since I attempted to dress in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt or scrubs. Aside from the routine church outfit, I was lucky to have two pair of slacks and a dress shirt. I walked out of the store that day with enough clothes to get me through my first week on the new job.

Nice and shiny
Fast forward six weeks and you'll reach the day my house burned down. Not only did I lose all the work clothes that I had purchased on credit but also the consecutive purchases I had made since that day. Yes sir, I was proud of that new wardrobe and felt that my attire was one less thing I had to worry about as I navigated through this awkward world of management. I choose the word awkward only because after working a graveyard shift for a decade, you tend to lose a bit of your social skills. Now, being thrust into the daytime, palm squeezing, Howdy Bob with a smile corporate world...I had to learn to be sociable again.

Oddly enough meetings interest me. Although my Bachelor degree in Psychology never meant much in terms of earning potential, I thoroughly enjoyed that field of study. People are VERY interesting...or can be.  Meetings provide an opportunity to "people watch" which can easily make the time fly in an otherwise dreadful meeting.

One thing I began to notice the other day were peoples' shoes. Specifically how some were nice and shiny while others were so dull you couldn't see a reflection if you were an inch away. I began to question the sense of pride folks take in themselves and how they appear. Often I noticed that if the shoes were dull then either the tie would be wrinkled, crooked or both. Other signs might be present  as well such as an improper shave, messy hair or (gasp) food stains on their shirt.

Digressing to the house fire, one of the few comforting things I realized after the fire was that over the years I had learned a lot about what I liked and didn't like. Having lost nearly everything I owned released me of the burden of keeping up with lots of things I didn't really care about. Clothes that I had outgrown but couldn't bare to part with or things that I thought would be made of good quality that simply were not high craftsmanship. Starting over meant I could now buy things that were tried and tested...

Enter the Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit. So simple yet so effective. I'd be a hipocrit if I besmurched a coworkers lackluster shoes if mine were of the same. As I looked down in the last meeting, my shoes had become just that...dull. In the month that has passed since the fire, I had neglected to polish my newly acquired shoes. In my defense, shoes take a much worse beating up here in the north country (snow, mud, dust) than they did in the city. But this is about pride.

So I woke at 4am this morning, broke out my newly acquired Kiwi kit and sat at the kitchen counter.  I propped open my laptop and began to peruse my YouTube subscriptions for something to watch while I worked on my dull, black dress shoes. It just so happens that Wranglerstar's latest video was covering a topic I was addressing at this very moment.

In his video, he digs his truck out of the snow where it had been stuck since the prior day. As he is digging it out with a shovel, he mentions that he COULD call a tow truck or a neighbor to help him with his troubles. But he eloquently demonstrates that a man should attempt to take care of himself first not just to spare his neighbors from the trouble but to (more importantly) teach his children to be self sufficient by example.

I spent a little over an hour shining up my work shoes this morning and they look ten times better. My girls didn't get to participate in this early morning endeavor like they did in helping me restore my Doc Martens (again, pride.) Today is a "late start" day as the recent snowfall has slowed up traffic.  They get to sleep in an extra two hours! Not fair! LoL.

I'll make sure to stick my prideful shoes out just a little further in my meetings today to let them basque in all their glory. The old, corny saying "Life is in the details" would probably fit nicely here but I won't use it. No sir, I'm practicing the new, hip office "rearranging deck chairs on the titanic," "let's throw it against the wall and see what sticks," and  "we'll take that offline and circle back later."

Ugh, I just want to get home and work on the important my workshop, chicken coop, greenhouse, rain barrel collection system and someday...Wifey's new craft room. Hey, priorities...right?



  1. My work environment, even though it is office based, the culture is very anti-suit. You will only see sport jackets and button up shirts at the highest levels. Even then, you rarely see a tie. The culture at the lower levels, however, allows and even encourages dressing like a slob, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't subscribe to this more than I should.

    But I also find that when you dress nice and clean, as in clean shaved, hair cut and clean, clothes fresh and fit right... really just dressing one notch above those around you and showing a bit of pride, you become more approachable. People pay attention to you more, are more likely to not only talk shop, but talk about things outside of work. You are more likely to have conversations with those above you as well as those below in the chain of command. Even if this is slight, it becomes a factor in things like promotions, reviews, and raises. You won't be remembered as the guy who had a food stain on his shirt every day. You will be remembered as someone who has a bit of pride in himself and the job he does.

    Sounds silly and unfair, but it is also a business reality.

  2. Back when I was in "upper management", I refused to wear a suit. I also wear cowboy boots and have done so for over 50 years. Even when I lived up north in PA. I had a boss ask me if I had horses. I told him, no, that I just feel better with the higher heels on cowboy boots. I will not wear a tie, either. I fit in better after I moved to Texas.

  3. I'm still trying to figure out what is acceptable. I saw someone wearing boots the other day and would definitely rather wear those but I have yet to find a pair that doesn't leave my dogs barking by the end of the day.

  4. A friend of ours told us that he dresses up when he goes shopping. He said he is always waited on faster and treated better because of it. We tried it and it is true. Funny how we perceive things and how we react to it.

  5. Have to LOL, OJD, because when I was still working in the hospital, I worked night shift because I was not one to keep my mouth shut and found that not dealing with management was the best way to go! I am your best worker, but I am not afraid to confront you if you are that far removed from what I do every plz keep that in mind now that you are a manager. The managers I respected most were the few that could and would step in and do the same job and work side by side with me, or could cover me so I could grab lunch because everyone else was so busy they couldn't do so. So plz don't disconnect from that part of your job! Jump in when you have the opportunity, it will help you have credibility with your employees. Never ask someone to do something you can't or wouldn't do yourself.

    As for the shoes, I couldn't agree more. You only have a couple of seconds to make a first impression. And taking pride in how you look reflects your respect for yourself and your position. I work at home, but when I have to go into the office I make sure I am well groomed, and well dressed. I want to not only represent myself well, but also represent my team well.

  6. @Lee How funny! I jumped in on an ultrasound guided renal biopsy this morning when a nurse came to me complaining that he couldn't find any US Techs. I figured, "I'll just do it myself. They're obviously busy." Then I offered to do an OB US later in the day so a tech could go to lunch (she declined.).

    I enjoyed the same aspects of night shift work. Especially being able to do homework, pay bills, etc.


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