In high school I was a bagger at the local grocery store. The dress code for the position required that I wear a necktie. As a young man just getting started in the world of “work” I had only one or two ties. Over the years I progressed from bagger to cashier, and acquired – mostly through birthdays – several more neckties. One of my favorite birthday presents was a motorized tie rack. It was quickly filled, and then overloaded with neckties.
In college, I was a sales associate at an office supply store, working specifically in the electronics department. Neckties were a compulsory part of the dress code. I continued to collect them, and genuinely enjoyed wearing them. I had several dozen by this point, covering the gamut from “professional” to “novelty”. My collection of neckties was something of a family joke, and increasingly my birthday ties would be more and more outlandish.
I have the obligatory Fish Tie. I have ties with cows, pigs, and flamigos. I have a tie that depicts Dali’s Persistence of Memory, and one that depicts American Gothic. I have a tie covered with images of Humphrey Bogart, another with images of Elvis Presely, and several ties with Looney Toons characters. I have a South Park tie, a Dilbert tie, a Pillsbury Dough Boy tie, and a tie showing a bottle of Tobasco sauce (it’s the one I’m wearing today!).
As I entered the “professional” workforce after college, I was well stocked with neckties to wear to the office. Every job I’ve had since college has seen me wearing a necktie most of the time. The occasional “casual Friday” would be the exception.
When I started working at OSU, I wore a necktie for the first couple of weeks. But as I grew increasingly comfortable with the position, I started wearing ties less frequently. I don’t think I’ve worn a tie since before my six month employment anniversary. I’ve been here almost three years now, wearing trousers and a polo shirt, or more frequently, jeans and a tee shirt.
Last week, for no particular reason, I decided to wear a shirt and tie to work again. Several of my coworkers made the obvious “Do you have an interview?” joke. I responded demurely that I wanted to look pretty, was that so wrong? In truth, I’ve been feeling somewhat unmotivated at work – no doubt in part suffering from the Winter Blues – and felt that if I dressed more professionally that I might act more professionally. Surprisingly, this has worked.
I wore a shirt and tie every day last week (save for Casual Friday!), and have continued the trend this morning. People have observed that I have not worn the same tie twice yet, which surprises me: do some people only have two or three ties? I quipped to one coworker that I could likely go the whole year without wearing the same tie twice. This got me wondering about the exact quantity of neckties that I own. So this morning I counted.
I have 84 neckties and one bowtie. That represents 21 work weeks (assuming I continue to honor Casual Friday, and not counting any holidays), which is a far cry from the 52 weeks in a year. So my boast that I could go a whole year without wearing the same tie was false.
Clearly the only solution to this is to acquire more neckties.