When I was an art student, I drove a taxi at night time to earn my money.
How to meet people with bad Socks
It was a tough job, night time in a big city can be dangerous and a cabby has to keep his ears and eyes open to know what’s up, and who’s playing up in and around the dark streets.
Generally, things would work out fine and I’d make it through the night and get back to my day time bed by 7 am.
If a person on the side of the street flagged me down, I’d slow down, as I pulled over I’d check the way they were standing and how they held themself.
Character Types and Predictable Poses
There are different stances on the street; cocky looking guy who flags a cab by waving once, then looks the other way. Dressed in bomber jacket and tight jeans. He looks like he’s half cowboy and half bar room dude with his pointy leather boots. He’s harmless, just wants to be noticed as a cool dude who gets what he wants. He’s taking a cab as a last resort. He’ll try and negotiate with the cabby on price.
Then there’s the beautifully dressed, out for the evening woman, who is wearing her best outfit.
Her outfit only comes out of the wardrobe once in a while because it was so expensive.
It seems such a shame to expose all that pretty fabric to the harsh weather of Berlin. Cars that drive through oily puddles, rain that leaves clothes dirty, and carrying an umbrella that will be left in a bar someplace, forgotten.
Presenting Her Case
She spent so much on clothes, but the price of the cab drive along the main boulevard is extortionate for her. Complainer, but she’ll always keep her cool and dignity and present her argument about high prices with intelligence.
Then there’s the dreaded “suit guy”. He’s wearing a smart suit, it’s grey or dark navy, his shirt is white or blue and the tie he’s wearing is the only one he has.
He doesn’t really know who the hell he is.
He flags the cab down and as I approach, slowing the vehicle, I can see how he peers through the glass to inspect the driver. His brow is dipped low to give him an already disapproving look.
For him cabbies are fiction people in his head. He’s seen the films with grouchy, snot nosed, cigar chomping New York cabbies who only grunt when asked questions. Neanderthals.
Berlin cabbies too, filling out the driver’s seat with a belly like a bouncy ball, red faced and wheezing lungs. These drivers, male and female, all of them monsters to him. Don’t trust ’em.
As he climbs into the taxi — in the back, right side seat, where I can keep an eye on his face and hands, make sure he’s not carrying an odd object like a hammer or a piece of rope.
I watched the film, “American Psycho”, too.
I watch the swish of his suit leg, the way the material moves. Mostly it doesn’t swish, it just flops cheaply against his leg.
Then I check his socks. I want to know if he understands anything about dressing in style, can he put on a suit.
If he can, it means to me that he has style, and he’s wearing it because he enjoys wearing a stylish and well tailored suit. He’d turn out to be a nice decent guy, someone with his own opinion about the World.
Most conversations in the cab revolve around the latest news. What’s happening in the World. Then the talk moves on to personal questions, “why do you drive a cab?” — “to make a living, feed my kids, and my cat”.
“Oh yeah?”, “You have a cat?”.
If this guy’s socks are not right, I know I’m in for a mouthy pasting from a jumped up, ‘I’m wearing a suit, today,” man, “so treat me with the utmost respect, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes,” type of ride.
Mostly, these people would climb into the cab and, unintentionally, reveal their terrible idea about how to wear a suit.
Firstly, those socks; sports socks with two blue rings. Really? I saw them.
Does that make you the man? I think not, and I know for sure you normally wear jeans and a tee shirt all day, just because of those socks.
But today, after getting into my cab, the guy is Gordon Gecko for the next fifteen minutes. I have to politely listen to his attempts at proving it.
He tells me anything that sounds business-cool. A new idea that he’s working on, and, that he’d never be seen dead driving a cab — it’s below his status.
This “suit” will tell the world about his plans, and always measure their value against the person being told. The cabby, for example.
Some of the things he tells me, I read in the morning news business pages,too. New techie ideas that are coming onto the market, what so-and-so company is planning with Holiday season marketing campaigns.
If it isn’t blue ringed tennis socks with a cheap suit and a grubby necked shirt, then he’s made the terrible mistake of wearing his geek socks — the ones with red zigzags down the sides, and snow flakes spotted randomly around the ankle.
These type of socks are common among men who rely on clothes as presents at Xmas.
I learned to look at socks, after so many bad experiences with heavy mouthed passengers who dress up and suddenly feel like Robert De Niro.
A cabby’s got to watch his back. Some of ’em want your wallet when they get you down the wrong street, and others want to force you into showing recognition and high respect for their stature in the World.
The cabby must stoop low and forget self-respect, while the geek in the suit feels great for the ten minute ride to a drinking bar.
Try doing that ten times a night, and see how you feel in the morning.
Suits, socks and shoes, they all three set off the suit like the base idea of the wearer — who they are and how they think and feel about themselves.
Many single people live in small apartments. When they dress up to go out, they look in their mirror and see what they want.
They forget, the mirror is only so wide and long.
When they inspect themselves, if they do, they see a jacket and tie, tightly knotted at the V of the neck. If a belt is missing, it will be noticed and corrected. The trousers looked pressed and hang just right.
The shoes and socks are hidden from view, so they don’t enter the mind for a single moment. Nothing below the fold is seen or corrected.
A little polish on leather, a simple pair of black socks to create a uniform line of sight between the trouser hem and the shoes.
When he sits down in a cab, trouser leg riding up as he adjusts his striped tie, the cab passenger doesn’t notice how his silly reindeer socks from last year give him away as a poser.
The shoes, often, scuffed and unpolished. Blocky looking shoes bought for the practicalities of working in a dusty environment, tell the world everything about his real life.
Dressing in a suit, or a beautiful dress, and evening clothes, is an exercise in style and clear thinking.
I love a quality suit, the flare of the garment and the feel of its material textures.
There’s nothing nicer than noticing all the little bits and pieces of work that a good tailor put into it.
To be able to wear a suit that is well fitted, drapes well, and makes a man look solid and friendly, yet authoritative, is a pleasurable experience.
A great suit of clothes demands to be complimented with a tasteful tie, thoughtfully knotted and adjusted. And, quality leather shoes that haven’t been destroyed by wearing last year’s Xmas socks or white tennis socks.