The year was 1997. Bill Clinton was in the White House. The Spice Girls were topping the pop-charts. People were still watching TV shows on NBC. And I was entering the corporate world.
There I was, selling radio ads at a local Detroit radio station wearing a suit everyday …the same suit …every day. Hey, don’t laugh. I wasn’t going to charge suits on a credit card.
Because I only had one suit, I was trying to mix things up with different shirts and ties everyday, so maybe people wouldn’t notice. People noticed and I know they noticed because one day, in walks one of the hot-shot old dudes at the station who might’ve watched Glengarry Glen Ross a few too many times and he says to me, “that’s an ugly tie. Are all your ties that ugly? Hey, I have an idea …I have some ties I don’t wear, I’ll bring ’em in and you can have ’em, and that way you won’t go around town embarrassing yourself.”
So, here’s one of those ties that’s still in my collection 15 years later. Is it a great tie? Is it a brand I recognize? No. But it’s khaki, blue, grey, and black, which means it goes with everything, and everytime I purge the ol’ tie rack, I still can’t part with it.
Epilogue: Lest you think this guy was a total a-hole, he wasn’t. Turned out he was just a really funny, really nice guy and he never changed, and some of the ties he gave me still had tags and were brand new so I kinda think he bought them for me as a gesture of kindness. He retired recently and he went out with a great reputation, on his terms, and seemed genuinely happy. Not a bad thing to strive for. Hmmm …maybe I’ll go find some young whipper-snapper around him, insult his ties, and carry on the tradition by buying him some ties and helping him get started.