Published Date Written by Bob HigginsBack in the day, for a while, I was a Boy Scout. They had this motto, "Be Prepared."
I never said I was a good scout, just that I was one. Much to the disappointment of my family, I was the only one never to make it to "Eagle" scout.
For years, I've always kept an extra set of pants at work. Over time, you learn from that be prepared motto. It only takes one chemical spill, one undercooked chicken lunch, or one spilled coffee to understand the wisdom behind keeping an extra set of pants at work.
With all the hubbub of the move of the dry cleaners from Portland to South Portland, most of my stuff ended up headed to my house. Since the whole domestic situation is in flux as well (long story), over the last weekend I tossed every stitch of clothing I own into one of several large laundry loads.
This included the "mend or toss out" pile.
Thursday, I was running late for work. Just out of the quick shower, I grabbed the pants at the top of the pile, chucked them on fast, and sprinted for the door. I do remember thinking at the time that the pants seemed a bit roomy, but you have to remember that this was "pre-coffee" thinking.
The first sip of coffee went down smooth, and had the desired effect. It was at this point I noticed that the pants in question were extra roomy for a reason. They were split from zipper to taint.
Needless to say, there was more old junk around than in a secondhand thrift store. My house was five minutes away, each direction at a brisk walk. The bus was four minutes away.
Strategically holding the laptop bag, I caught the intown bus for the transfer to the SoPo run. Getting to work, I grabbed a huge pile of safety pins, and headed for the bathroom.
It's always best to minimize the amount of bending, lifting or squatting you do in any given day, and Murphy's Law preordained Thursday as a day filled with all of it. At one point, one of the folks I worked with pointed at my pants, and started to make a remark.
She didn't have to tell ME what had happened, I already knew. at least two of the huge pins had popped, resulting in another display of Marden's secondhand goods. I was trying to quietly and swiftly make my way to where I could get everything reassembled in short order for a reason.
Safety pins. Split pants. Extra hefty sized dude trying to move things.
The math adds up to an amount of piercings not seen since the days of punk rock, and the legendary show of Portland resident GG Allin at CBGB's.
All those things combined can make you a bit short tempered. The pincushion effect of the brisk walk sort of set me on edge for the rest of the day. There are those that pay for sessions of acupuncture, and those that pay heavily for the same needles filled with tattoo ink. I fall into neither of those categories.
Years back, I learned the lesson the hard way. I had spilled industrial bleach all over my pants, and headed off at a pace quicker than a trot to get everything hosed off. By the end of the day, the pants were pretty much a pile of thread.
Luckily, that time I had extra pants.
Circling back to that first graf, I should have remembered the lessons of the scouts, and brought in a spare pair on the first day of normal work, this last Monday. "Be Prepared" is kind of a life motto, one that never leaves you. It's the reason you check the spare tire in the trunk once and a bit to make sure it's also not flat, the reason for keeping some food on the shelf you can cook on a campfire if the power goes out, and the reason for keeping an extra set of pants at work.
But then again, in the second line, I did admit to being a lousy scout.
(Bob Higgins is a regular — and typically fully clad — contributor to The Portland Daily Sun.)