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Tie Guy

When I was a young man I had a cassette recording of a motivational speech by Zig Ziglar. I cannot remember when or where or how I acquired it, but I listened to it several times -- enough times that I have remembered one of the aphorisms he presented on it ever since: "If you want to go up, dress up." Or, at least that's how I remember it. When I search for it online now the closest match I can find is this line from a song he recorded:

"When you dress up and make up you're going to go up." -- Zig Ziglar song "Dress up to Improve Your Self Image"

That brief encounter with Zig Ziglar's teaching reinforced the image I was building of myself: when I grow up I want to be the kind of guy who works in an office and who directs the work of others. I wanted to be a leader, perhaps someday I'll even become a dignified gentleman. And so it came to be -- I spent most of my life working in low-level management positions. That also means that I spent most of my life wearing a necktie to work.

One of the quirks of my personality is that I really don't like to change clothes; getting dressed once each day is quite enough, thank you. My children were convinced that I slept with a necktie on because I was wearing one when I emerged from my bedroom in the morning and was usually still wearing it when I returned there to sleep that night. Even my grandchildren, years later, mostly only saw me with a tie on. This was the cake they made to celebrate with our Father's day dinner in 2001:

 Photo: A cake decorated to resemble a shirt with a necktie and with pens in the pocket.
Photo: A cake decorated to resemble a shirt with a necktie and with pens in the pocket.

We had a friend who worked as a materials handling specialist on the loading dock at a large food manufacturing plant. He and his workmates had a term they used to refer to the office staff at that plant who could not be bothered to get their hands a bit dirty by helping out on the dock when things got really busy. Those guys were "tie guys". He and I were both wearing ties when he told me about that, because we usually saw each other at church on Sunday.

So I had become a tie guy. When I retired I mostly quit wearing neckties. But when we moved to our retirement home a few years later I took all those neckties with us and they looked lovely in my closet here. Last year I finally decided to get rid of some of them. About two-thirds of the collection was donated to the thrift store, leaving only about 30 still adorning my closet. Until... until a couple of months ago when I decided that those ties would look better on me than on their hangers in the closet. They're not worn out yet, and neither am I. What's the point in keeping them if I don't use them?

Every day since then -- yes, even Saturday and Sunday -- I've worn a tie. Not to impress anyone. Just because I want to, it has been and still is a part of who I am. Ziglar was right, it makes me feel better, and that's all the reason I need.

 Photo: Shirt with tie and with pen in pocket.
Photo: Shirt with tie and with pen in pocket.

My family noticed right away, of course, and they're likely thinking that it's one more clue that I'm gradually slipping into senility. But they are polite enough to say that it's good to see me looking like my old self again.

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