Government & Politics

Fanny packs? Uber? Old-timer has little use for trends

You have to wonder why anyone would worry about keeping up with trends and styles.

When you’re concerned with them, doesn’t it mean your self-image is based on what everyone else thinks is appropriate? There’s almost nothing other people do that would interest me enough to tag along.

Take fanny packs, for example — those things middle-aged travelers and retirees once wore around their midsections to hold sunglasses, wallets, keys, dental floss, Tums, nitro tablets, pepper spray and other necessities.

They were especially useful when you were traveling, going to a sporting event or climbing a pyramid to check out the view.

According to reliable sources — my wife, daughter and son — fanny packs, now largely passé, branded a wearer as old-fashioned and totally clueless about style and trends.

The same goes for wearing socks — any kind of socks — with sandals. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but people who favored fanny packs also were drawn to combining socks and sandals.

High dark socks were the most serious infraction, I’m told, but even discrete ankle-highs were placed on the do-not-wear list.

Violators spotted and ticketed by the STP (Style and Trend Police) were publicly flogged in the town square.

Now that summer’s approaching, we’re on the cusp of the highest-risk season for these STP infractions.

Personally, I’m not inclined to wear socks with sandals, but this time of year shorts and sandals are a mandatory apparel choice for me. I suppose you can reach a stage of life when shorts are moved to the do-not-wear list, but either I haven’t gotten there yet or I’m too dense to notice.

Regardless, I’m wearing shorts and sandals right now, with a Hawaiian-style shirt with big fish jumping out of the water, and I’m as about as happy as a clam. I feel as natural as Jimmy Buffet sipping margaritas on a tropical beach.

Fortunately, I’m not wearing socks or a fanny pack, so I can go out in the street and not worry about being pulled over by the STP.

The thing is, trends and styles come and go, almost as if by magic. I recently heard that fanny packs were making a comeback. I’m not sure that’s the case for wearing socks under your sandals, but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach on both trends du jour before committing myself.

The whole issue of keeping current recently came up in a Parade Magazine article headlined “Trend Watch: What People Earn.”

The first thing I noticed was that the jobs cited — for example, Robert Farmer, 48, surf instructor; Brendalynn Eustice, 46, Zumba fitness instructor; and Randy L. Shear, 36, Uber driver – were dangerously like those made up by The Onion, the satire newspaper. rolls out obscure job titles in its American Voices man-in-the-street series.

A recent one quoted a woman employed as a “lid loosener,” and a man who worked as a “nuance detector.” Previous interviews consulted a “macaroni artisan” and a “trend watchdog.”

I’d never qualify for the last one unless it involved identifying trends in order to ignore them.

I can see why The Onion never runs out of material. Reality and satire are now one and the same.

The newspaper story I referred to talked about “The Anti-Desk Job Revolution,” “Millennials in Management” and “The On-Demand Workforce,” all of which made me miss the days of the Industrial Revolution and the no-nonsense time before Child Labor Laws went into effect.

Based on what I read, the new workplace is a brave new world, one for which I’m clearly ill-suited.

One section I could particularly relate to, “Millennials in Management,” reminded me of a discussion we’re having at work about whether our newspaper should focus on building subscription numbers and advertising sales or attracting readers to our website, Facebook page and E-Edition.

The E-Edition is an internet version of the newspaper, one that as an extra perk goes “whoosh” when you turn the page.

Old-timers like me prefer old-fashioned dollar-on-the-barrelhead results, the kind where you sell a subscription and somewhere in the backroom a cash register goes ka-ching.

However, millennials favor all things digital, including something called “Periscope,” which allows a person to film something and broadcast it live online.

I kind of like that innovation, but only because I’m a big fan of World War II submarine movies.

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve become a person who cares about things like revenue, jobs and salaries, but it’s true. Millennials are all about things like “hits,” “unique page views” and “analytics,” something that tells management how quickly it’s going belly up because it put all its eggs in a single digital basket.

Personally, I’m wary of turning management over to a generation that defines “Uber driver” and “surf instructor” as real jobs. I’m not a professional nuance detector by any means, but I know fantasy when I see it.

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