On Getting Older: Airports and TattoosSep 29, 2022
As many of my readers know, I’ve done a good bit of traveling over the last several years, teaching 4-day Live Review classes to students preparing to take the CFP exam. The exam is offered in March, July, and November, so the months before that were my busy travel times. I taught my last cycle in October of 2022. All told it was some 16 years that I was involved in teaching CFP students, and it has been a wonderful experience getting to meet and connect with students all over the country.
The usual teaching cities included San Antonio, Dallas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Raleigh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and here in Miami. Traveling to some of these cities requires a change of plane, and air travel has become, well, difficult. Canceled and delayed flights, staying over an extra night – and it gets old fast.
Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time in airports, observing the traveling public. And man, oh man, there's a lot to observe. I am appalled at what I see. It is almost like people make a deliberate effort to look slovenly. I know this isn’t the ‘40s when men wore suits and ladies wore dresses - thank God. People dress for comfort – fine with me. But you can still look neat and put together. Sweatpants, flip-flops – really? That’s the best you’ve got in your closet? And men with the sleeves cut off. Why?
Sweatpants on a plane?
For a man of my age, this looks disrespectful. Disrespectful to oneself, in that you didn’t event think it was important to present yourself in a socially acceptable way to others, and disrespectful to others in that you didn't see them as consequential enough to matter how you present yourself in public. After all, you’ll never run into those people again, will you? So who cares? I get that people are dressing for comfort in what will be, almost by definition, an uncomfortable flight. But you can still wear nice jeans and a polo and looks stylish and put-together.
How fat we've gotten!
And how fat we’ve all gotten! Me included. This is a subject I’ll address very personally in another post. Please dear God not next to me, as I sit in my seat and watch one obese person after another seek out their seats became a common prayer. I want to say, Dude – you know that fat butt of yours is never ever gonna fit in a coach seat! If I'm flying coach I choose an emergency row seat because they have a tremendous amount of footroom. Consequently, many large people choose those seats - and some of them have sides, so that one person cannot spill over into another's seat. And I've spent many flights wondering just how that person managed to stuff him/herself in, but glad for the barrier.
My teaching organization bought my plane ticket, and then I'd log into AA and upgrade. Always a comfortable seat at the front of the plane and with plenty of legroom. Always plenty of room for luggage, always among the first off the plane – as stress less as the experience can be. I live very conservatively, so this is my one spending caprice. And it does build up the frequent flyer miles much faster than otherwise, so I sort of justify it to myself that way too.
And now the tatts. It used to be that men who went to sea got tatts, and that was about it. Some days I think I’m the only man left without one. Did you know that God specifically prohibited them in Lev. 19:28? As a Christian I believe we are under a new covenant and the Jewish law is fulfilled in Christ, but still – if God didn’t allow them back then something tells me that He’s not too crazy about them now. And women being tatted up – I just don’t get it. Still – none of my business what other people choose. If you think a snake crawling up your neck is attractive-looking and will help you get a better job then go for it. Been to Starbucks lately? Like the Starwars bar scene. Seems like tatts and piercings are a required part of the dress code.
I do look at tattoos from a professional point of view, though. This is discretionary income people are using to get inked up. A full sleeve (meaning one’s arm is completely covered from shoulder to wrist) costs between $2,000 to $4,000 I'm told. Wow! What is the future value of that at a decent earnings rate over many years? I'll tell you - using 8% over 30 years, that $4K becomes $40K. And just how good is that tatt going to look in 30 years? Eventually they all seem to revert to green.
No more suits
Once again, evidence of my advanced age and generation differences. In hot, humid south Florida I am glad that in my business world no one expects me to wear a suit. When I lived in Manhattan many years ago, I had several great-looking suits hanging in my closet, and (if I may say so) I looked great in them – and felt great in them too. One’s wardrobe used to be a sort of indicator of one’s position in life – professionals dressed one way, and others dressed another. Now everything has seemed to merge at the level of comfort, and being an American with egalitarian sensibilities, this is all fine with me - just as long as we're all neat and considerate of others.
But I appeal to my readers: before you board a flight do take a shower and shave and put on some decent clothes.
Best to all,
--Glenn J. Downing, MBA, CFP®
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