Adulting?

“I have a personal question.” This is Crystal, my coworker—actually, she works for me. Her voice is barely above a whisper. She’s treading on dangerous ground. This is the first conversation we’ve had. “Why is there a bird on your truck?”

A couple of years ago, I drilled a pair of holes into my truck-bed side-rail and bolted on a metal crow. It’s substantial, about eight inches tall. Probably the size of an actual crow.

“Um, I don’t know. It’s a goof. I’m just having fun.”

But this isn’t true. The crow has a purpose. The same purpose as the forty-some stickers covering the tailgate, the bumper, the back window, my rear fenders. The same purpose as the bicycle cog hanging from my rear-view mirror. And the two lapel buttons pinned to my sun-visor—one says “PUNK” the other says “ROCK.” And, of course, the metal praying mantis crimped onto the end of the radio antenna.

There *is* a purpose. There’s a reason for all of this. But I’m not entirely sure what it is.

I’ve just started a new job. It’s an important job, an “executive” position. I’m the Director of Operations of a successful Charter School in Gettysburg. I’m a role model for the children. My presence is supposed to put the parents at ease. Garner respect from the teachers. I’m an adult. I think I’m expected to act like one.

When I switched jobs, I changed my wardrobe, as well. You could argue that my last job, the Finance Director of a YWCA was also an executive position, but the place was a fitness center and a childcare. Everything was always a little gross, sort of dirty. It made me want to dress casually. I wore shorts and a button-up short sleeve shirt. I dressed exactly the way I would dress to go to a barbecue. It’s what I wear when I hang out at the farmers market on Saturday morning. My work attire displayed all of my tattoos.

For my interview, I went shopping at Kohl’s. I bought a dress shirt and a tie. I even bought a blazer. I own ties and jackets, but they’re all thirty years old. I bought them the last time I dressed like an adult. I’m guessing they’re out of style. The ties certainly are. Things are skewing skinny again.

My truck, my shorts, my tattoos. They’re my way of putting a stake in the ground. A line in the sand. They’re my shallow, immature symbols that I haven’t sold out. My way of showing I still have spirit, maybe integrity. But now I’m wearing trousers. I’m wearing a dress shirt and a tie. As the weather cools off, I’ll even add a jacket.

With my tattoos covered. I look exactly like everyone else. Now, what do I do about my truck?

A version of this post was previously published on jefftcann.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Photo credit: Jeff Cann