I’m not sure why, but the period between Christmas and New Years has always been a time when I perform some long overdue housecleaning chores – mostly to my office and my closet. Certainly, this year was no exception as there’s still a lot of organizing and cleaning to do since our big October move. So, now that family has made their appearance and gone and life is beginning to settle back down to a state of normalcy, it just seems fitting for a person to want to start off the new year a bit more organized and anew.
And this year was no exception for me. As I looked in my closet (or I should say the small corner of the large walk-in closet my wife allows me to have) I saw a box that cried out for attention. It was a box where I threw all the little, important things in my life so they wouldn’t get lost with all the shuffling we’ve done during past months. But it was not the contents of this box that would end up stirring the most emotions for me. Nope, rather, it was a favorite outdoor hat of mine that most everyone would agree has seen its better day.
You know the type of hat. One of those relatively cheap, promotional caps that for most people simply adorn a shelf in the closet with the dozens of caps just like it. But since day one this hat has meant something different for me. Maybe it was the comfort of the hat that wore almost like a fitted cap. Or maybe it was the wording of that cap that said FRABILL…which identified me as a sportsman among the ranks. Whatever the case, the hat had long since served its purpose and was ripe (literally) for retirement.
As I held the cap in my hand just moments before tossing it in the black garbage bag I reflected for a brief instant on the history of the cap. It must have been about three years ago that I contacted the FRABILL company requesting a small replacement rubber seal for a gas cap for my power ice auger. The seal was something they could have easily placed in a regular-sized envelope and mailed for practically no cost, but not this company. They found it necessary to send the seal out in a big brown box with the unexpected, and much appreciated gift of a new hat. That’s where it all began.
During the first year or so I was wearing the hat for more dressy occasions. It was still clean and the tan color coordinated with most items that I wore (as if that really mattered). I would wear it out shopping, to the sportsman’s club, frankly, just about whenever I left the house.
Eventually, the hat became dirtier and showed definite signs of a headpiece that was used a few too many times for work activities. Sweat rings developed, grease and oil spots started appearing and could not be removed. Soon, the hat took on a function more of a work hat soaking up the summer sweat and deflecting the hot summer sun. It’s now faded and grimy appearance yearned for a proper ending…but not by me.
Instead, I tried to clean the hat in the washing machine as if this would magically restore its once pristine appearance. Truth is, the washing did wonders toward making the hat look new again, but by this time the hat was a workhorse and only became dirty rather quickly once again. Subsequent washings only took more of a toll on this favorite hat of mine, so I just continued wearing it without regard for appearance.
The problem is old hats, unlike regular clothing that can be washed and cleaned, are prime sources for body odor retention. Heaven forbid that your favorite hat becomes a key factor in why that wily old buck sniffed you out before he got into gun range this past fall. Hey, it can happen…and I suspect it does happen like this quite regularly.
Nope, the time has come for this old sportsman to finally find a different favorite hat. I’ve concluded that it has to be a hat that another company gives to me…as I have always found FREE HATS to be the best. The criterion is simple, it has to somehow promote the outdoors and thus acknowledge me to be a sportsman among the ranks. And like the last hat I just laid to rest, it has to be durable and well-constructed to withstand the next several years of hard use.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.