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Holding on to yourself... [Mar. 7th, 2007|08:13 am]
dalekboy
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[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

(This started as a comment to deborahb's wonderfully written post. I then decided to turn it into a post on its own.)

When I worked for the Civil Aviation Authority, I found I had to maintain certain dress standards of formal clothing. I had come from the abattoirs and felt the need, and was expected, to fit in with my new environment. I didn't mind it, it went with the job, and my work ethic is such that I took the clothing seriously.

Until, less than two weeks in, I had the socks incident.

I was getting ready for work, and couldn't find clean socks that matched. My laundry was a mess, and I was desperately going through it in order to finding matching black socks. I had to have matching socks, they had to be dark in colour or they would look wrong.

And then I realised what I was doing. I was getting stressed about socks. Socks! The chance that anyone would even see them was minute. I thought about this and very carefully picked two socks out of the bunch. They were not black, or grey, or white. They most definitely did not match.

It didn't matter that no-one would see them. I knew they were there, that I was holding on to a part of myself by wearing them, rather than giving over everything to what was expected. As acts of defiance go, it's pretty minor, but it was important for me. If I don't hold onto who I am, for good or bad, it's very easy to lose myself to what others expect.

After that, I always I wore odd socks to work, often in dayglo colours.

Of course people would catch flashes of them. Initially I would catch people smiling and quietly pointing out my socks to others. Pretty soon I had a few folks asking what colours I was wearing that day. I would pull up my pants legs to show off a bright pink sock on one foot, and a bright green on the other, or whatever combination I happened to have on.

To some I was a figure of mild amusement, to others I became part of their daily ritual, something to look forward to. My socks brightened the days of others, as well as myself. I did have a couple of my superiors comment that I had an interesting choice in socks, said in friendly but mildly disapproving tones. I just smiled and thanked them. I had one tell me that while he didn't object to me wearing bright socks, could I at least make sure they matched? I asked why they had to match. He said it looked nicer.

I pulled up my trouser legs to show off whatever combination I was wearing that day. 'Nicer than this?!' I said, disbelief in my voice. And then I wandered off, shaking my head like he was mad.

Interestingly, when CAA gave me a secretary it was the dread-locked goth girl no-one wanted. She was utterly fabulous at her job, looked amazing, and was great company. I think it was meant to be punishment. It just gave us each someone to unite with. We were two individuals in a place of middle-class clones craving nothing new in their lives except more of what they already had, marvelling only at the newest version of the things they had marvelled at a hundred times before.

That job, nearly 20 years ago, was when I first started wearing odd socks. I still prefer to wear odd socks today, though I make exception for striped socks. I didn't own knee-length, red and white stripy socks back then.

Wish I had.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-03-06 11:07 pm (UTC)
Love this story :)

I still can't manage to wear non matching socks :( I love the concept but can't get past my in-built preference for symmetry.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 12:08 am (UTC)
You do get symmetry, just at a slower rate than normal.

Monday: Red left sock, blue right sock
Tuesday: Blue left sock, Red right sock

Join us... Joooiiinn uusssssss...
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-03-11 07:10 am (UTC)
Ooh, that's clever thinking...
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[User Picture]From: drjon
2007-03-06 11:21 pm (UTC)
All of my socks are black, to avoid brain strain.

And black goes with anything. Eventually, black goes with everything.
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From: gutter_monkey
2007-03-06 11:30 pm (UTC)
Ha, all my socks are black too.

Makes it so much easier to match them. They ALL match!
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[User Picture]From: drjon
2007-03-06 11:43 pm (UTC)
This is why it avoids brainstrain.
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[User Picture]From: shrydar
2007-03-07 12:02 am (UTC)
Not once you start using them they don't! Within a wash or two, they're all slightly different shades of dark grey, and and frequently different lengths. They don't take long to differentiate into left socks and right socks either.

So much harder to match in to pairs than deliberately different socks.

(OK, so I don't actually match my white sports socks into pairs. Or at least, not any more..)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 12:09 am (UTC)
And I'm so anal, I was worried about making sure my black socks were paired with the correct black sock.
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[User Picture]From: shrydar
2007-03-07 12:14 am (UTC)
Worry's not quite the right word - and I'm well aware that no one else can tell the difference :)
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2007-03-11 07:15 am (UTC)
I have the same drive to match socks exactly, so instead of the issue with black and white socks, I've started buying socks of different colours so that it's easier to pair them.
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From: gutter_monkey
2007-03-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
I have a similar work-related fashion story, although I went in the opposite direction than your colourful socks. I had a job where I was required to wear a tie and so I wore a tie every single day without fail - a plain black tie. The same plain black tie, every single day for the three years I was in that job. I wasn't going to waste any time shopping for ties, or picking out a tie every morning. I wasn't going to bother wearing ties that matched my personality or mood or football team. They wanted a tie, they got a tie. And nothing else.

I still have that tie, just in case I get another office job with a 'corporate' dress code.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 12:14 am (UTC)
See, I would have started keeping my eyes open for more extreme ties. While I don't own one, I think one of the ones with a bloody rubber eyeball stuck to it would be the go. Or the hula girl with the light-up flashing nipples.

With a rule like that, there's all sorts of ways to really push it while still obeying their requirements.

And unless it says specifically that I have to wear a tie around my neck, then there's lots I can do. In the end, it depends on whether the job I'm in deserves the respect.
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[User Picture]From: transcendancing
2007-03-06 11:41 pm (UTC)
This little story made my day :)

Thinking of you honey, will call you when I have a brain not dead from heat.

*purrrryness*
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[User Picture]From: deborahb
2007-03-07 12:27 am (UTC)
Hee hee! What an excellent post. :)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 12:48 am (UTC)
Thank you.

I adored yours. I envy and lust after your ability with words and ideas.

Bitch :)
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[User Picture]From: deborahb
2007-03-07 01:48 am (UTC)
How sweet! ;)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 01:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, well, I'm a romantic :)
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[User Picture]From: shazgirl
2007-03-07 12:59 am (UTC)
Of course, now I get to occasionally see you when all the colourful socks are in the wash, stress over the fact that even though you are wearing *different* black socks that someone else will think that you are wearing matching socks. :)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2007-03-07 01:35 am (UTC)
You! Shut up and get back to work!
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[User Picture]From: rendragon
2007-03-07 04:59 am (UTC)
I have three pairs of stripey blue socks. All the same colours (different shades of blue), but diferent stripe patterns. I always wear them odd, even though I don't wear odd socks on other occasions.

I'd really like to be parading with the odd-sock club, but I can't do it full on...so I'm doing it in baby steps...
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2007-03-07 07:09 am (UTC)
I have shocked one of the teachers at school by not wearing boring white socks, especially the days I've worn odd socks or knee highs.

My kids in Japan loved it when I wore odd socks.
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[User Picture]From: ghoath
2007-03-07 10:58 am (UTC)
i take all the white socks and give all thw black ones to Kerry. That way I don't have to agonise about whose are whose.

and they all unpair themselves with colour/stretch eventually anyway, so it's all random.
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