Stuck in an Airport

The flight normally takes about an hour.  You spend more time in airports than you do in the air.  Departure from Kelowna was scheduled for 1:45 PM.  I was through security and in the waiting area by 1:00, expecting to be picking up my luggage in Calgary by 3:00.  Then came the dreaded announcement, flight delayed by weather.  A storm over Calgary had closed the airport.  There was a lightning advisory.  No airport worker was allowed outside.  While a few planes did land, none were taking off, none were being refueled, none were docking at the terminal and no luggage was being loaded or unloaded.  Four hours later, my flight was cancelled altogether.  

Things to do while waiting
  • Read the paper and do the crossword puzzle - about 20 minutes.  The Kelowna Courier is skinny.
  • Browse the gift shop and look for a magazine - another 15 minutes.  And the magazines weren’t that good.  Nothing sparked my interest, so I bought a water and a chocolate bar.
  • Get bothered by the two little boys who thought they should literally play on my feet until their father called them off - only a few seconds, thankfully.
  • Eat the chocolate bar - another 5 minutes.
  • Chat with the woman in the wine store - about 10 minutes.
  • Send and answer text messages and phone calls about the flight delay status - maybe 10 minutes.
  • Walk around, fidget and go to the washroom - who knows how much time those stellar tasks occupied?
There was only one thing left to do.

People watch

The youngest was about a year, the oldest was maybe 80.  There were lots of tattoos, even among the 50-something women.  Boredom was everywhere as several people nodded off.  The Snack-and-Go lounge was full as was the White Spot.  More beer was served than food.  I felt sorry for the two little old ladies waiting patiently in wheel chairs.  And then there were the businessmen.

Bad shoes and wrinkles

I don’t get businessmen sometimes.  Do they not have wives who dress them properly?  Maybe that’s old school thinking but my wife has saved my fashion butt many times.  Don’t they look at magazines and mannequins in menswear?  Have they no taste?  Do they not care about their looks?  Do they check the mirror before walking out the door?  I get why they’re all wrinkled from sitting around an airport during a flight delay, but I don’t understand that tired and unkempt look that comes from never having taken your suit to a dry-cleaner.

Pet peeves and bad taste
  1. A classy looking man, styled salt and pepper hair, wire frame glasses, well cut dark blue power suit, crisp white shirt, red tie, expensive leather briefcase, iphone, probably 50-ish but wearing shoes that looked like they came from a medical supply store.  You know the ones, most often seen on the feet of really old people.  Shoes tell a story, just ask the women in your life.
  2. Young guy, maybe 30, grey pinstriped suit, a little baggy, pants had no crease left, needed a haircut, pulling one of those black, boxy briefcases on wheels usually associated with an accountant or a lawyer, shoes likely hadn’t seen polish since new, toting a grungy backpack.  Yes, an old battered backpack, full, both straps over his shoulders, scrunching up his suit jacket.  He just didn’t look comfortable and ready for business.
  3. Another man, nice sports jacket, dress shirt, no tie, the wrong jeans and sneakers.  He looked like the business mullet, professional on the top, bad casual Friday on the bottom.  The jeans were high wasted and too long.  The sneakers were dirty and I’m pretty sure had grass stains.  Sir, wear those sneakers to do yard work.  White sneakers are supposed to be white.  And by the way, the 80’s just called and want their jeans back.
  4. I am certainly not critical of people with weight issues, but I am critical of people who try to squeeze their beefier selves into clothes two sizes too small.  There’s nothing worse than a sports jacket that can’t possibly be done up, worn over a shirt stretched so tight the buttons could pop, behind a tie so short that it flaps several inches above the belt that is buried beneath an over-hanging belly.  You get the picture.  Please, if you are going to live with your weight and physical condition, buy bigger clothes.
  5. And then there were the three guys, obviously traveling together, suit jackets off, ties still on, in and out of the bar several times, a little loud and getting louder, shirts had that slept-in look and it wasn’t yet mid-afternoon.  They did appear to have paid attention when they got dressed, except for their shoes.  They were tired looking and scuffed.  All three seemingly did not know the words shoe and polish.
Dress for success

Customers notice.   We see you in stores and offices.  We invite you into our homes for consultations and repairs.  We buy products and services from you both personally and for business.  Your style is your statement.  When you are clean and well put together, you look like you care.  As a customer, I want you to care.  I want to gain confidence in you quickly.  When it looks like you don’t care or haven’t paid attention, then neither will we.  Dressing well and appropriately is not that hard and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Here are some tips from one businessman to another.
  1. Pick a style that feels good.  The more confident you are, the more confident your customers.  Be yourself by all means, but be sure to dress in the context of your profession, the company you work for and in a manner that makes your customers comfortable.
  2. Take care of your clothes.  Suits and sports jackets need to be dry-cleaned and pressed on a regular basis.
  3. Styles change.  You don’t need to be on the cutting edge but do try to keep up.
  4. Buy clothes that fit.  There really isn’t an excuse for too short, too long, too big or too small.
  5. If you have no taste and can’t put colours and combinations together, admit it and ask for help.  It could be your soul mate, a friend, someone at work whose style you admire and there are professionals who do this for a fee.  One of the classiest dressers I ever met was a colour blind bachelor.  He hired a clothing consultant who helped him buy his wardrobe and then created a code attached to each item, shirts, ties, pants, jackets, suits, socks, shoes, both casual and business.  He had a chart on his closet wall showing him what would go with what.  He was always dressed to the nines.
  6. Shoes are important.  Colour, style and comfort matter.  They require care and attention.  They wear out and need to be replaced.  Sometimes they can be repaired and sometimes the garbage is the only solution.  Just because they’re your favourites does not mean they’ll last forever.  Just because they are your most comfortable does not mean they go with your suit.  And, you don’t need to spend hours per week with polish, rag and brush.  A buddy of mine wore sneakers and jeans more often than suits, because he could.  His profession was flexible.  His sneakers were always white, like they were fresh out of the box.  He had more than one pair.  He kept a supply of new white laces.  You know how fast white laces can get dirty and grey.  Before putting the shoes on, he always wiped them down with Weiman Leather Wipes.  When they began to show signs of wear, he’d buy new ones and throw the old ones out or retire them to yard duty.  He was never seen in public wearing bad sneakers.  He followed the same routine with his dress shoes.  Thanks to him, I haven’t used shoe polish since learning the leather wipes trick.  When I worked in an office, I used to keep a container in my desk drawer.  To this day, my shoes always look good.

How many businessmen have iphones or Blackberry’s, tablets and laptops along with cases to carry them?  How many of them travel light, with a carry-on bag, because the plane trip is in, out and done?  They or their companies have spent big money on the electronics, but for some reason the following things are true.
  • That briefcase you had in college is still okay to use.
  • Some businessmen have more cases and clips on their belts than your average security guard.  I even saw one suit wearing a fanny pack.
  • That backpack you use on weekend bike excursions or for hikes is somehow appropriate while wearing a suit.
  • Carry-on bags often look like garage sale finds.
Take a lesson from women

Certainly there are women who don’t get it but it seems like there are more men.  It was just a one-off survey of people stuck in an airport for four hours, but I have to say, women apparently pay more attention to hair, outfit, accessories, shoes and bags required.  Men need to wake up.  I will add one thing.  Some women who should never weareth yoga pants.  If that's not already a law, it should be!