Attitude: it isn’t the clothes

I read the George Nethercutt editorial in last week’s “The Inlander.” Seems he bemoans what has become our increasingly laid back world. People are too busy texting, or talking loudly in their phones, to pay any attention to other people. Or for that matter, to even pay any attention to everything that is part of their general environment. He’s of the opinion that if more people wore suits, that might change our culture.

Bob Hope was quite the comedian in his time, and did a number of funny movies, inclusive of “The Ghost Breakers.” But this movie also came from and represented an era that I have no doubt Mr. Nethercutt would like to ignore. There is a segment in this movie where Mr. Hope has his African-American manservant completely dress him. Seems he is completely incapable of putting on and tying his own shoes. Yes, he is wearing a suit and tie. And in the fifty or better years since this movie was first shown in theaters, that is one of the least funny segments in the entire show. But then, our attitudes seem to have changed a bit, perhaps for the better. So, Mr. Nethercutt pines after a time when men wore pin stripe suits and bow ties to ball games? There was also a darker undercurrent that existed in that same time frame that no pin stripe suit could ever hide. A little historical research would very quickly reveal it.

Men would dress professionally to go to the office. But unless they are on a business trip, why would they wear a suit on all occasions? The same thing would be just as true of the women. Besides, a suit denotes that you are a person of class. It would be highly suggestive that you are a person of money. You are a person of great success and seek to impress with the clothing you wear. That would be entirely true of Mr. Nethercutt. So, maybe his real issue isn’t that enough young men are not dressing for success; it is instead that they are so busy texting and talking loudly in their phones, that they aren’t noticing him! I’ll sympathize just a bit. These days, a lot of people are very self-centered. I seem to have “lost” a Facebook “friend” when she took a selfie of a most hideous looking hair style and thought that this is what she wanted in a “do.” More power to her, I gave her a “like” and thought I would have a little fun with it. Like at least one other guy, right? I also mentioned my new book “Are You a Space Alien?” now on That was when the woman turned into a real bitch and engaged in a lot of shrill ranting, screaming and attacking that anyone could take away from her “moment in the sun.” I was only going to share my accomplishment. So the woman can’t seem to recognize the spirit in which it was intended (now I seem to have become “more important than herself” because I am a published author”—as if Facebook is now some kind of competition on questions of self-importance), and decides to “unfriend me.” I won’t miss her.

Oh and by the way, the woman is only a journalist… Onward. I don’t see where dressing professionally would change the kinds of attitudes that people choose. After all, it is an attitude that you do indeed choose. People actually do choose to be caring and compassionate, a business suit or otherwise dressing professionally, doesn’t enter into it. Also, people also choose to interact with other people: smiling, waving, and engaging in greetings. A business suit won’t make it more likely. On the other hand, walk any day of the week through say Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. You are sticking to the sidewalks where possible, you watch for traffic, you turn on the crosswalk signal light, you wait for the signal light to change on your behalf… And you would swear that no matter what their age or gender, it must be a blind person at the wheel. They will run right over the top of you in an utter hurry to get to their destination. No smart phone in sight, these are drivers who pay attention to nothing because they feel they own the road. You have to become a defensive pedestrian as a consequence, of dealing with people who truly have that kind of lack of consideration for others.

The demand that people “wear suits” or otherwise dress professionally, is a superficially cosmetic argument against our so-called “eroding standards and values.” Does Mr. Nethercutt wear a suit when he vacations at his summer home in Idaho? I highly doubt it. But that is not the point. Our eroding culture, values, and standards are from the choices we make, not the clothing we wear.


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