My car has died so I’ve been getting to work by bus / train for the past 2 weeks. This involves travelling all the way into Glasgow along the north side of the Clyde, then all the way back out to Paisley on the south side of the Clyde. I can practically see the University from my house, if I had a giant zip slide I could glide down the hill, over the river and scoot into my office window in about 3 minutes. As it stands by public transport it takes up to 2 hours.
I’m not against public transport, I am positively for it. Throughout my entire working life I have commuted via public transport or bicycle. However there are no public transport options going directly from Clydebank to Paisley at the right times for me in this new job. So car it it.
Anyway that’s not what I wanted to write about. Since starting this job I have had to dress in proper office clothes. Smart trousers, nice top etc etc. Strictly no jeans. I used to live in my jeans. In my old job I could wear them to work, in fact it was positively encouraged so as not to alienate the kids and look “like a social worker”.
I have never been a follower of fashion. I am usually found in jeans, a band t-shirt and a sweatshirt or hoodie. It is comfy, I don’t have to think about it (apart from which band’s t-shirt to wear) and it’s practical. I don’t have time to faff about with shopping and latest designs and clothes that require engineering degrees or instruction manuals and that you can’t bend, run or slouch in.
I never used to understand people who wore all kinds of outlandish clothes as an expression of themselves. I thought that your personality ought to speak for you, your actions and your words. Clothes are just on the outside, it’s what inside that matters.
Then I got this job and had to buy a whole new wardrobe. I did what I could with the charity shops in the West End and minimal purchases from H&M and New Look (short length trouser suppliers!). But all the clothes were so same-y, so dull, boring and, well, not “me”.
So commuting by bus and train involves changing in Glasgow City Centre, where I join the swarm of other commuters as I scuttle from bus stop to train station. Suddenly I feel so annonymous. I look like everybody else. I want to scream, “I’m Ruth, I like fish finger sandwiches and I speak crap Swedish!”. I desperately want to differentiate myself from everyone else. I wonder if they feel the same. Maybe they have all been doing this for too long. I used to walk among them, travel on the bus with them, but I was wearing my clothes, carrying my bag. I felt like me. I don’t any longer.
I don’t feel the need to dye my hair purple or wear green and red stripy leggings, but then that isn’t and never has been “me”. I am jeans, a band t-shirt and a hoodie. I am comfy, practical and unfussy. I am what I wear, I get that now.