Friday, January 24, 2014

147. General Disregard for Social Norms

Dumptruck put down his menu and looked down at himself.

"I think I need a new shirt."

The Applebees waitress raised an eyebrow, but to her enormous credit, resisted the urge to comment and walked away with our orders. Dumptruck was wearing his white Columbia polyester t-shirt shirt that he'd been wearing for the entire trail. We were in Pennsylvania, and though we had just done laundry, Dumptruck's shirt had long since given up the idea of presenting itself as white. It was ripped and stained in an intricate pattern of mottled brown gradients that would make the most experienced of tie-dye artists salivate with jealousy. That is, if they liked their tie-dye to look like it had been made by repeatedly using the shirt as a coffee filter for making Kopi Luwak*

Grim, Whistle and I tilted our heads to the side to observe Dumptruck in his shirt.

"Time for a new shirt," I said.

"Yup," agreed Grim.

"I like it how it is!" encouraged Whistle.

Dumptruck, now resolved, got up from the table.

"I see a sports store on the other side of this parking lot. I'm going to go see if they have anything."

He weaved his way through our shameful pile of stinky backpacks, pausing to open a zipper and pull out a ripped old ziploc bag of crumpled dollar bills. He was gone for 15 minutes or so, and when he returned, he was wearing a shiny, brand new, nicely-fitting Under Armor shirt. It was very, very new. It was also very, very white.

"Why did you get ANOTHER white shirt? I give it 2 days before it just looks like the old one," I teased him, but I was actually a bit flustered because he looked so dashing in his new getup. He grinned and slid into his seat at the booth just as the grease-laden calorie buckets of our lunches appeared.

"It's too hot for any other color! But wait, I have to tell you what happened. I went into the store, and there were just a couple of guys in their 20's behind the counter. I was the only one in there. I walked up to this display of shirts and picked up one that I thought might be the right size. I held it up and caught the eye of one of the kids.

"'Hey, can I try this on?' I asked. He said 'Yeah.'

"So I just pulled off my shirt in the middle of the store and tried to put on the new shirt. It was too small, so I was struggling for a while with my arms stuck inside of it."

"Wait," I stopped him, "Did they SAY anything when you just stripped down in front of them?"

"I didn't strip down! I just took my shirt off!"

I stared at him. He blushed.

"ANYWAY," he continued, "One of the kids was like 'Uhhh, you know, we have dressing rooms...' At that point I had gotten out of the smaller shirt, and I was just standing in front of the display without a shirt on, pawing through the shirts to try and find the right size. I suddenly realized how completely insane I must have looked, but it was way too late. What was I gonna do, just walk out of the store shirtless? No! I wanted to get a new shirt! So I found the right size, put it on, and then walked up to the counter. I had to lean over the counter so the guy could find the tag and ring up the shirt. He even found a pair of scissors and cut the tag off for me. I asked if he could throw away my old shirt for me, so he did. He just took it and tossed it in the little trash can behind the counter with the tag from my new shirt.

"So, what do you think? Do you like it?" He struck a model pose in his new shirt.

"Yup," I nodded, a mouthful of greasy pretzel bits, "It's perfect."

Clever Girl

*Kopi Luwak or "civet coffee," refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm Civet.


  1. Hi, I am enjoying your 200 Things very much and enjoyed following your journey. I am planning a thru hike this year leaving in late March. What technology did you take with you ( cell phone, tablet, ... ) ? What did you use to post your blogs?

  2. Hello Meagan! I am SO EXCITED for you!!

    I didn't have a real phone with me, I just had a very lightweight, small "burner" phone that I got at CVS with 45 minutes on it to have in case of emergency. But it was off all the time.
    I did have a small iPod touch with me, and I wrote all my blog posts on the iPod. It didn't have any service, but it had the ability to connect to wifi. When we were in towns that had WiFi once or twice a week, I would then upload the blog posts.
    I carried the iPod without a case for several months, and just kept it dry in a ziploc bag. I am AMAZED that it didn't get broken, but it didn't! I still have it! Some folks kept their phones and things in all-weather heavy-duty cases, which seems like it would have been a smart idea :)
    Let me know if you have any other questions! I'm happy to help.
    Clever Girl