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This old hat

I gotta say, all bitching about Hartford politics aside, that I have a really interesting job. I mean, how many geeks out there can go from meeting with the Mayor of the Chief of Police one day to demolishing a wiring closet with a pair of bolt-cutters the next?

I just did our 2004 taxes; I rack up a lot of "unreimbursed work expenses" buying things for myself and the shop. In 2003 there were a lot of tools. Last year was the year of books, wireless cards, and equipment off eBay. To-date, this year has been office supplies and Personal Protective Equipment — PPE.

In the PPE category are two hard hats and a pair of safety glasses I picked up today at Home Despot. One of our telecom techs snapped the headband on my old hard hat while adjusting it. It was old, and the fact that the plastic snapped is a sure sign that it was time for a new one. So, the question now is how to get my shiny new white hard hat to look a lot less shiny and white.

Why, you might ask, does this matter? Because all of the trades on a construction site have hard hats that are not white. There's usually a company color; you see a lot of plumbers and HVAC guys in blue, electricians other cablers in green. Sometimes a company will pick red, but usually if you see plain red or yellow the man or woman under the hat is a laborer (the lowest form of life on a construction job). The only people wearing white are managers, architects, engineers, and the like. The only people wearing shiny white hard hats are visitors.

You really don't want the people on the job site to take one look at you and think "visitor", or worse, "visiting suit". My old hard hat was yellow and beat to hell. It had HARTFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS on the front in 1/2 inch black-on-blue label tape. I could come and go like I was an invisible everyman. If I asked a tradesman or a laborer a question, or for a hand, they'd treat me like I was any other slob just trying to get the job done. That hard hat rocked.

So, now I have shiny white and new. Maybe I could rub sand over it ... that would dull the sheen and some of it would probably stay behind. Hmm. If anybody has any suggestions, lemme know. For those of you in the West: a hard hat for cowboys.

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