Monday, November 23, 2009

Redux: Weejuns Redux-Again-With Roofing Tar

I’ve decided that I’ll probably never be finished blogging about Weejuns. After sharing the Navy Blue Weejun lore with the world I figured the Weejun story bucket was empty. Alas, here’s another one.
Certainly I’m not the only one who has returned to their childhood home only to have mom say … “either you take this stuff from the attic or I’m throwing it away”. Well, LFG and I just returned from the home of my upbringing with a trove of random artifacts from my earlier years. Several other things will make their way to future blog posts but for now-my checkbook from college sparks this Weejun entry.
What a trip down memory lane my checkbook register was. I’m amazed at the number of checks I wrote for five and ten bucks…beer money-going out money. ATM machines were just getting traction back then and I was and remain a Luddite when it comes to technology. So I wrote a butt load of small dollar checks.
The most intriguing entry that I found was the Navy Blue Weejun purchase. A whopping $39.69 when I only had $62.39 to my name. I’ve always had my priorities in order.
There are few things that I’ve managed to hold onto since college. Funny enough, both pairs of college Weejuns remain in my closet. They’ve been re-soled scores of times and I suppose one could argue that the cost of resoling has long since surpassed the cost of a new pair. The Navy ones aside, I recon I could buy another pair but these babies are original-made in the USA. God only knows what contract vendor makes Weejuns today.
The Weejuns made today just don’t look “right” to me. They look too shiny. Almost laquered. My brown Weejuns caused me to recollect a story that I won’t be able to accurately portray in a blog post. It’s one of those… “You had to be there” kind of things but here goes. I graduated from college and frankly, didn’t know what I wanted to do….sound familiar? I toyed with the graduate program in Architectural History at the University of South Carolina. My late father’s best friend admonished me to go to law school and promised to get me in if I’d go to summer school and tweak my grades a bit. I thought that I wanted to teach school for a year or two-one of the most honorable professions in my opinion. The starting salary for South Carolina public school teachers in 1983 was $9,600.00 a year. Any wonder why my home state is always 48th or so in education? The saving grace is that we are always in the top three for reported cases of gonorrhea. I don’t think we have more of it-I just think the epidemiological reporting prowess is greater in the Palmetto State.
Ok…back to the story. The owner of the clothing store-my after school haberdashery job said that I could work there for as long as I wished while figuring out next steps. He was a surrogate father and mentor….great guy. At the time, I was driving an orange 1970 Super Beetle convertible. Fun car…looked pristine…looks though can be deceiving. While esthetically eye catching, the bottom pans-floorboards were rusted almost completely out. For those who’ve owned VW’s, you know what I’m talking about. This car was a deathtrap-you could see the highway through the holes in the floor board.
The sartorially elegant-shade tree car body repair man in me prevailed. My buddies and I would get old license plates or sheet tin scraps and sandwich a piece inside the car and a piece on the bottom and screw the pieces together. Damn, it’s a wonder I’m still here. Then, I’d take roofing tar and smear it around the edges both on the inside of the car and on the bottom in a feeble attempt to keep water out. Plop the carpet back on top and I’m good to go. This photo says it all...The Inevitable-Proverbial....VW floorpan rust out.

Carpet-like a full lining in a suit-hides a multitude of structural sins. Ok…so I’m working at the clothing store and a regular customer said, after realizing that I was in the post graduation-no job prospect twain, “Dust, you would be a natural in the pharmaceutical business”. This was before big pharma was the devil and when repping for a big pharma was an almost guarantee for a life of upper middle class existence if you plied your wares in the South. However, I was under the assumption that you had to be a pharmacist to work for a drug company. I’m a liberal arts man through and through…a marketer and historian by training so how the hell am I gonna land a job in pharmaceuticals? The regular customer-a pharma exec arranged an interview for me.
Bottom line is this. I interviewed on a whim-not thinking that I would be offered the job and therefore, not being uptight about the interview. Not caring too much is a great modulator of adrenaline and cortisol. I know, you are wondering what the hell this has to do with Weejuns. Hang with me.
I am scheduled to interview for this position on a June morning at nine am. June can be hot as blazes in South Carolina and this June day was no exception. My VW bug had no air-conditioning except the breeze when the top was down. So I dressed for the weather, not for the interview. I can remember exactly what I had on that day-Haspel Olive Poplin three button sack suit. Flat front trousers-hemmed a bit too short as most South Carolina preps are known to do. Identical suit to the one above except for a blue shirt and regimental tie.
Blue oxford cloth button down and a 1st Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders regimental tie. Finally, I’m shod in the very pair of brown Weejuns you see in these pictures.Everything is fine. I’m cruising over to Columbia for the interview-not really giving a damn because I don’t think I’m qualified for the job.Driving back roads because I know them and prefer driving them in the early mornings. I’m speeding a bit-as much as a VW can speed and I bottom out in a large body of standing water on said back road. I almost hydroplaned but not quite. All is good after I gained control of the car with one exception. When I hit the water, the force of pressure caused water to gush at lightning speed through the gaps in my sheet metal-roofing tar repairs. Muddy water with pellets of roofing tar blew all over my pants legs. The velocity scared me. I’m now an olive poplin pile of mud and tar. Flecks of tar are all over my suit pants and that shit doesn’t come off.
By now I really don’t give a hoot about the interview. I get to the hotel and try to towel off as much of the mess as I can. The tar ain’t budging. The Weejuns have to this day, little black flecks from that incident. I rolled into the interview, explained my condition and then engaged in two hours of irrelevant discussions. The irrelevant discussion ultimately landed me a job offer.

The hiring manager is to this day, one of my mentors and surrogate fathers. I went on to be blessed with a 13 year career and various professional responsibilities that took me all over the world and afforded me graduate education at fancy name schools-courtesy of my employer. I gained the skills that allow me to practice my craft as a consultant today. God bless roofing tar.

I had to throw the trousers away but the Weejuns will be with me forever.



The Blushing Hostess said...

I nearly bought that car in bright yellow in 1991, it too had no floor to speak of. Mark my words, I will own it.

Secondly, something like this happened to me, only it involved cat shit.


L.A.S said...

Great little anecdote. Truly a treat and pleasure to read. If they still made those navy blue weejuns I might own 5 pairs myself.

Barima said...

As a fellow marketer and historian who happens to only be working part-time at best, what this post really says to me is that I should work in pharmaceuticals in America

Fancy being my mentor?

tintin said...

Hey, Rerun-
How are we supposed to do this if we commented the first season?

ADG said... gotta tell the cat shit story....but not on your blog. You can guest host it over here.

L.A.S. ... I've never seen another pair of Navy Blue Weejuns. missed the American Pharma sweet spot by about 20 years. just did comment bossman! Rerun...wasn't he a big ole character on some sit com?

Skip said...

Epic story. Which weejuns are you wearing in the first picture?

Josh said...

So what brand/model weejun are you wearing in the top pic? Nice shape. I as well am frustrated with the options today. Great story by the way.

ADG said...

Josh and Skip

The weejuns in the first picture are my Navy Blue ones from college. G.H. Bass originals. Never to be seen again.

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

AH...teaching in first year teaching in Colleton County. I got a $1,000 supplement because I was a high school choral director. Those were the days...

Anonymous said...

They've done to weejuns what they've done to automobiles (including the current VW Beetle).

They've taken away the weejun's sturdy defined features and turned them into smooth bars of soap.

Must EVERYTHING look like a Camry?

Anonymous said...

Wow that's a great story. I'm going to keep that in mind when I start going for interviews again. Not that I'll try to replicate the tar debacle, but just that I'll loosen up a bit.

Josh said...

The top picture in your study or wherever that is. They don't look navy. Am I mistaken? I like the structure of them though.