Floppy Hat Man

Could there be a more insipid look than this hat?

I’ve reached the age of coothood, where I’m comfortable venting ad nauseum about the faults of this generation.  But by “this generation” I don’t mean Millennials, or Gen-Z, or whoever comes after them. I mean my generation. The Boomers.  They call that racket they listen to “music”?

I was in the waiting room of my doctor’s office yesterday (because sometimes I just like to hang out flipping through their impressive collection of old Time Magazine issues), and there was this guy about my age talking loudly on his phone–I’m sorry, his “device”. The phone/device itself was on speaker, also dialed up to max, so everybody in the fairly capacious waiting room could hear his whole conversation, whether they wanted to eavesdrop or not. And Tim (it was hard not to remember his name since he announced it every time he made or took a call) evidently wanted everyone within the tricounty area to know how he was the the linchpin of a critical mission. “We’re on track to deliver those mylar sheets onsite NLT today! Or tomorrow!” he shouted at several people in sequence.

On one call he had to leave a voice message and felt the need to repeat his phone number four times, enunciating slowly, loudly, and succinctly–I guess he’d never heard of caller ID–then instructed the person to text him back within five minutes that he had received the message. When that evidently didn’t happen he called back and left another voice message, repeating his phone number..again.

Everybody else in the waiting room was clearly annoyed (it was an oncology clinic, after all, and the atmosphere was already anxious). We all exchanged glances over the rims of  our copies of Time, People and Tumor World. This is what people do when confronted with self-centered rudeness. They make eye contact, as if to say, “Can we take this guy outside? Or just out?” I see it in coffee shops and other public spaces all the time. Not usually in doctor’s offices, though.

But we still just glance and bond, every so fleetingly, in shared irritation.

It’s not the phone bellowing, though, it’s something else.

But his having loud conversations on the phone is not what I’m complaining about. What I’m complaining about is that this guy was wearing one of those new, ugly, big floppy hats. You know, with the rear flap longer than the front? And tied under the chin? You see these machine-washable head-bibs a lot here in Oregon, particularly on Boomers. Yeah, yeah, I get it; they’re to protect you from harmful solar radiation or government mind control rays or something. And he was in an oncology clinic waiting room. So I imagine he was just being careful with his carcinoma.

But these hats look stupid. And I only notice people in my generation wearing them. I don’t know if they do in other parts of the world apart from the Pacific Northwest, but I imagine they are also popular in other communities who identify with Portlandia.

I don’t know what it is about these hats that get me. Maybe it was the loud phone behavior that drew attention to it. But I think I would have been torqued had he been just sitting there quietly, in his stupid hat. I see one of those hats and my blood pressure goes up.

I wanted to walk over to him, not to tell him to take his calls elsewhere, but to tell him to take his f***in’ hat off when he was inside. What, did his mom raise him in a cave? In my generation, when you went inside, you took your hat off. That is, if you were so uncool as to wear a hat in the first place, one that wasn’t part of your job. And you especially never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever wore it at the dinner table. Or in a cafe. Or in an oncology clinic. Have we lost all our standards?

He was also wearing socks under his sandals. Dark socks. Which I’m sure were that new kind of  Smartwool sold at REI.




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