Jefferson Weaver • Dressing for Success

Jefferson Weaver

I wasn’t intending to dress any different than usual.

It was a Monday. I was an hour behind schedule. The weekend had left too many chores incomplete, too many plans gone awry, and too many nerve-endings and muscle screaming for relief. I just grabbed a shirt from the closet, snatched the first vest I saw, and threw on the first tie that came to hand.

 Miss Rhonda fixed my hair, as she always does, and I was out the door.

During a brief stop at a store, two ladies I knew asked why I was so “dressed up.”

I was confused; I wear a tie five, sometimes six or seven days a week. I always wear a vest. Apparently I had somehow, some way, managed to overcome the masculine tendency to wear what fits and doesn’t clash horribly, and I even looked presentable for a change.

I stammered a thanks and went on, only to be asked a short time later if I was preaching a funeral. I assured the other person that I wasn’t doing so on this particular day, and once again said thanks for the compliment.

Jefferson Weaver with a scaly friend.
“Saturday is a day for bloodied knuckles and twigs in my beard and hay in my hair, as well as livestock byproduct on my boots and potentially my knees.”

Each of the folks I ran into that morning see me in “work clothes” on a regular basis, but they also see me in ragged shirts, faded overalls or disreputable pants, usually with a handgun on one hip – what I call the Saturday Uniform. Saturday is a day for bloodied knuckles and twigs in my beard and hay in my hair, as well as livestock byproduct on my boots and potentially my knees. There’s often a pair of fence pliers sticking out of one pocket. Saturdays are different, and require a different skillset than most other days.

I learned how to dress from my father. It’s because of his example that I always wear a hat, and know when to take it off. It was rare to see him away from the house without at least a vest, if not a suitjacket. Aside from quick trips to the hardware store or such, he would be wearing a tie. That was how one dressed for work, and that’s how I dress for work. I don’t look down on other folks who have different philosophies, but I was brought up to dress well out respect for yourself as well as your customers.

It does aggravate me when I have to go to a courthouse, and see folks in shorts, T-shirts, flipflops and halter tops. More than once I have been asked if I was an attorney. I resist the urge to say No, but if you want some legal advice, dress like you respect the courts. But that’s a column for another day.

My wardrobe tends to be a little more practical than the Old Man’s, simply because I have livestock and have been known to end up in the woods or a river with no notice. I usually wear boots rather than capped wingtips. I prefer heavyweight work pants to dress trousers, but I try to cycle said pants out when they become too worn or faded.

I usually keep a change of rough and ready clothes in the truck; when I was still running a trapline before work every day, I had a few out of the way locations that served me as well as phone booths served Superman, except I was changing out of my  “working clothes” into my “work clothes”. Later in the season, however, when I was running dozens of sets, it was more practical to just pull on an oversized protective coat and gloves, then discard them when I came out of the field.

That led to some interesting experiences and some irrevocable stains.

I have wrestled coyotes while wearing cashmere, and bobcats when I was dressed in Brooks Brothers. I had to discard a much-beloved camelhair coat after a  particularly nasty coyote incident left a blood stain on one arm, and an enterprising possum crawled through the open truck window to chew a fist-sized hole in the sleeve. All I could figure was that maybe the coyote had eaten one of the possum’s friend, and he was doing the equivalent of spitting on the yote’s grave.

Sometimes there just isn’t time to change from practical to civilized clothing between chores and work, and I have to take a chance that the required tasks of the morning do not leaving me in a state of deshabille.

I’ve had vest buttons ripped off by fractious goats, and at least two shirt collars eaten by affectionate donkeys. There were also powder burns on one of my favorite black suits from an unexpected shot at a feral hog (I missed). More than once, I have had to check my pockets before entering a meeting or a courthouse to be sure I didn’t have a couple of bullets, a spare pocketknife and possibly a tightly sealed bottle of trapping lure.

 I have one or two suit jackets whose pockets I have modified to carry baby wildlife during rescue season. Drycleaners don’t like dealing with possum poop in the pockets, in case you didn’t know.

My dad’s wardrobe rarely had to deal with such adventures, so he could dress better than his youngest son, and do so more often. The worst my father ever dealt with, to the best of my knowledge, was a particularly upset politician who grabbed the lapels of Papa’s jacket, and the occasional sloppy but affectionate drunk. There was that one dog that ripped his pants, but that was due to miscommunication on both their parts, and they eventually made friends.

So I don’t consider myself dressed up, even when I am by other folk’s standards. I don’t deal well with the compliments, but I do appreciate them.

I just try to look at least semi-professional and respectable. Just don’t look too closely, or I might have to explain the toothmarks, the bloodstain or the hastily repaired collar.

Clothes may indeed make the man – but only as long as they have sufficient pockets for ammo, tools and baby opossums.

About Jefferson Weaver 2040 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].