Business, Casual

I was out in the backyard today, trellising my cucumber seedlings, when the neighbours’ kids came peering over the fence to chat with me. It’s a regular occurrence that I quite enjoy - an opportunity to interact with children as me, myself, and I (rather than as The Garden Program Coordinator or The Art Teacher, or whatever other Role I’ve been Hired to Play). 

I like talking with kids. They ask great questions, they let you know when your stories are interesting (or not) and they generally don’t judge you too harshly… even when you ask for their opinions.  Which I do, regularly. Ask children for Their Opinions, I mean. It’s a learning opportunity I can’t deny myself – what do you really think, with your (more or less) “open” mind? 

Turns out, my neighbours’ kids are interested in alleyway gossip, relationships (and their ultimate success or downfall), trends (–as heard on the radio), and techniques (for scoring in soccer, hammering nails, making babies laugh, reducing messes, etc.). And, much to my delight, fashion (a.k.a. dress-up) and role play (a.k.a. Acting, if you’re in The Theatre).

So, after trellising, I turned my attention to another task: cleaning up a [very nice] office chair that G & I picked up (from another neighbour’s front lawn. Yep, garbage-picking again… Sorry Not Sorry). The thing is, I’ve never had a [very nice] office chair before. So I’m really excited about this find. I spray it down and wipe it clean, and then I drag it from the garage to the house, catching the kids’ attention again. Time to show off my prize.

I demonstrate the chair’s Greatest Feature - a special knob for adjusting the location and degree of lumbar support - which elicits clear approval. And then, dramatically, I sit down in the chair, twirl myself around and ask, “How do I look, very Official?” My neighbours’ daughter (now perched on top of the fence, monkey-like) frowns, looks me in the eyes, and says, “No.” I look at her quizzically, waiting for more. “Not like that,” she says, “not with what you’re wearing.” And I laugh, ‘cause it’s an astute observation: right now I’ve got my Farmer Clothes on. And no matter how cute your Farmer Clothes might be, they’ll never pass for “Office Attire”. Not in the eyes of a child… or anyone else.

The thing is, though, that Farmers are Businesspeople. Artists are Businesspeople. Soccer Players are Businesspeople. Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers… Cleaners. Bricklayers and Firefighters, Hairstylists and Bottle Collectors and… yeah. On and on. But just because you’re Out, Standing in Your Field (instead of in a Traditional Office) doesn’t mean you’re not a Businessperson. You’re just a Businessperson wearing Farmer Clothes. And in this day and age, even Farmers are on Instagram, showing off their Farmer Fashions. Don’t you think they have Farmer Offices, with Farmer Laptops? Farmer Colleagues? Farmer Networks?

People are the only animals that do Business, as far as I can tell. So then – why was I taught (and why are these children also learning) that in order to be Taken Seriously, they need to wear Professional Office Attire? Why does it matter which clothes I’m wearing? Certainly I have worn my fair share of Business Attire, but right now I’m in Farmer Clothes. And I could Go Get Changed in order to write this blog post, but the clothes don’t make the person. In reality, I can wear any damn thing I feel like, and sit anywhere I please - even on a fence-top. And if that’s what I’m up to? Then that’s my Business. I’m trying to get into the Business of Being Genuine. Any Business Advice?

Eyes on the Prize, NYC, 2014

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