As my close friends and family can tell you, I am at heart a complete slob when it comes to fashion.
In the evenings and on weekends, my preferred apparel is sweat pants or gym shorts, depending on the season, and a T-shirt or sweatshirt, usually one that bears the logo of Mizzou or some gaudy symbol of a favorite motorcycle destination.
If I actually have to leave the house in the evening or on weekends, I will commonly throw on one of my favorite pair of old, ratty blue jeans, or, better yet, a set of bib overalls, which I love, because they are comfortable, functional, and provide plenty of places to stuff the necessities in life – wallet, keys, cell phone (a flip phone, thank you very much), pocketknife, ink pens, handkerchief, comb (which I always carry, but never ever use), breath mints, and my trusty .45 caliber personal protection device. Now that’s living.
My favorite shoes are grubby old black vinyl sneakers, with Velcro straps – very comfortable.
My universally preferred modes of transportation are my Ford F-150 pickup truck or my beloved Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic.
My poor wife has learned to endure. She tries not to roll her eyes at me when I leave the house. Bless her.
Of course, I have an array of nice suits, white dress shirts, and more ties than I can count, so that when I do have to go to court, or attend an important professional meeting, event, or deposition, I can fake having a modicum of dignity and pride in my personal appearance. It’s not something I necessarily relish, but it is part of the job, to which I grudgingly adhere when necessary, or even advisable.
And on weekdays in the office, when I do not have court or some event requiring a full-fledged lawyer uniform, I can adhere to a sort of semi-decent form of business casual attire.
Still, at heart, I’m a slob.
Please don’t tell anybody.
And so once again this year, just like every six years, I was required to renew my Missouri drivers license.
And once again, I adhered to a lesson learned in my relative youth, after I started my first job as a lawyer at the tender age of 25.
In the conservative, respected, old-school, downtown law firm that was kind enough to hire me to go to work for them right out of law school back in 1985, it was, typical of the times, suit and tie, all day every day.
And of course, I complied.
And so when it came time for renewal of my drivers license the first time in my new life, I showed up at the drivers license bureau during a typical work day -- thinking nothing of it -- in a suit, white dress shirt, and some spiffy tie from my vast collection.
They took my picture in my suit and tie, and that was that.
And the lesson I learned after that was, whenever you have to show a photo ID, be it at a security checkpoint, to rent a car, to get on a commercial airliner, to cash a check or use a credit card, to open an account, or even – gasp – during an episode of law enforcement contact, you may look like a complete slob, or biker, or rube, or country bumpkin, or some guy who can’t afford decent clothes, but when you hand them a drivers license that shows you in a suit and tie, their attitude invariably changes.
It’s really amazing.
And so again this year, when it came time for me to renew my drivers license, I did what I have now done for years. I went on a court day, in suit and tie, so as to preserve for the next six years an image as someone who may be a complete slob at heart, but can fake a modicum of decency with the best of them.
It can be so beneficial when Officer Friendly pulls me over for perhaps riding just a tad too fast on my Harley.
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at email@example.com