This past Thursday, someone in senior senior management visited our section of the large organization I work for. When I arrived at work that morning, I noted that some people were wearing ties and full-out suits. Others, me among them, were dressed more casually – flipflops, jeans, that sort of thing. The visitor was doing a meet and greet at 10 am, talking to people at their desks. I awaited his visit with curiosity, never having met someone in his position before. When he reached my cubicle and was introduced to me, after shaking my hand, the first thing he said was: A Tilley hat! Yes, my long-time companion Tilley hat was perched atop my coatrack, as it often is. He seemed impressed when I said it was 15 years old, but doing the math later, I think it’s closer to 20.
When J and I first moved to Vancouver in ’91 we checked out the Vancouver Tilley store and tried on hats. He bought one with a normal brim and I bought this wide-brimmed one. It was a pretty expensive purchase for graduate students newly arrived on the West Coast, but this hat has stood me in good stead. Rain, wind, sand, and sun – North American and Europe – I’ve worn it all over.
I’m reading Marjorie Harris’ book Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style and one of her main points is being thrifty is not about being cheap. It’s about knowing when to spend a good chunk of cash on something that is well-made, has value to you, and will last. She writes:
Thrift is so muddled with the idea of cheapness…. Cheap is someone who buys based only on price, whose life experiences are guided by price, and who would probably give up something sublime because it costs too much. The rules of thrift aren’t meant to develp a stingy quality; indeed it should bring on a feeling of well-being rather than deprivation. To thrive is all-important (p 4).
Here’s to thriving! Here’s to my old Tilley hat!
The distinguished visitor then asked me about one of the pictures I have stuck to my cubicle – it’s of an exotic castle island in India.
Have you been there?
Not yet. It’s a travel dream.
Well, you should go, he said.
Then he went on to the next person and shook his hand, leaving me smiling at my Tilley hat with travel plans on my mind.