In the comedy performing business, “working blue” means working dirty. In the staying alive business “working blue” means working dirty as well; not obscene, not unhygenic, but dirty just the same. Since starting to ”work” for what I call “Rock City,” (not his real name) as web master, advertising consultant, special projects coordinator and showroom administrative assoostant, I’ve attired myself (which is not to suggest that I have donned Goodyears and Firestones) in dress slacks and dress shirts sans ties and sport coats. I feel this is the appropriate attire for this line of “work.” Frankly, I’ve missed the ties; never considered them to pain in the neck as former associates have. I’ve missed the sport and suit coats. But I’ve never mssed the shined shoes. My Florsheims get the Kiwi and brush every few weeks. So I was a mite concerned when Erin — (not his real name) — advised me Saturday to come to work Monday in blue jeans and a sport shirt. There would be some outside work to be done all day, and there was no reason to soil textiles that would have to be dry cleaned.
He even gave me three pair of used blue jeans. It’s been years since I’ve owned a any, and it’s been at least 45 years since I’ve owned three pair. To Erin goes the credit.
I like working outside when I’m dressed for it, so while I hated to leave the showroom unattended Monday morning while an associate from the fabrication shop and I moved display racks around the back lot and rearranged sample tables and contents, all went well. The sky seemed to leak light precipitation, and a cool breeze in low 70s Fahrenheit was nice. Every five minutes or so I stuck my head into the show room to see if we had visitors, and we almost never did. My labors outside were totally over after an hour and a half.
I didn’t bother changing back to showroom clothes because there was always a chance I’d be asked back. Didn’t happen. And the jeans grew on me, so to speak.
Today when I arrived at “Rock City,” I wore them again. Monday afternoon I had discovered how wearing blue jeans with granite dust on them bothered me less than wearing dress slacks with granite dust on them had bothered me most of the past year. The long sleeve dress shirt was not compromised; I’m wearing it now and will continue this much formality as long as I’m here.
As long as I’m working here, people who don’t know me will never confuse me for white. Even when I grab a showroom copy of the latest lllinois Times to show a customer my book review of the new book about the Illinois Statehouse or point to my books of poetry and the Arcadia Publishing book about Springfield aviation, all displayed and FOR $ALE in a corner of the counter, I will never work white, anymore . . . . I fear . . . . . to mon profound chagrin.
If would be easier to swallow, so to speak if the pay came in predictable time increments which sometimes span six weeks and always account for approximately 1/3 of what I have earned. Call it Erin’s unique way of keeping me coming back. And the pickup truck loaned to me for no charge because my Ford Escort is now what I call a rubber-tired lawn jockey in my back yard is a factor in keeping me here. Mostly it’s the hope for pay at all, in any increment of time or substance that keeps me coming back. Concern over the color of my collar seems close to silly. But “silly” has never prevented my thoughts from being run up the Honey & Quinine flag pole. Songs have been written over lesser circumstances. And after all. . . . .
. . . . . . I am a lucky mother’s son.
Live long . . . . . . . and proper.