Do you remember the days of the coat check? Some places still provide them. You arrive at a party or event and there is someone waiting to take your coat to someplace secure. You get a tag, and on your way out you pick up your coat and provide a small gratuity for the service. It’s a little dated, but not uncommon.
The idea of the coat check was to leave something behind that would get in the way and be cumbersome or bulky or interfere with the event. Useful, and in cases where quarters are close, absolutely necessary.
But there are some things that should never be checked at the door. It doesn’t matter the party, the venue, or the company, there are some things a man of style and substance should never “check at the door.”
Manners – No matter where you are, “Please” and “Thank You” should always be a basic part of your life and should never be left behind. Ever. These basics of society used to be fore-gone conclusions, but today it seems that manners are ever on the retreat. Whether you are speaking with the host of the event, a fellow guest or even a member of the wait staff or the maintenance crew, treat them with courtesy. Just because you are going to pay someone to do something for you doesn’t give you the right to be rude, abrasive or inconsiderate and discourteous about it.
A Pen – This doesn’t need to be a flashy or showy pen; any pen will do. I actually often carry two pens with me, one in a shirt or coat pocket and the other (a smaller one) on a keychain. Carrying a pen is a mark of preparedness; you never know when you will have to sign something or you will want to jot down an idea. Also, it prevents you from needing to ask to borrow a pen (and all the accumulated germs that accompany the loaner).
A Small Wallet – Even if you are leaving the monster wallet at home, make sure that you keep something small with a few bills and one card that you know has room on it. You never know when you will get an opportunity to pick up a round of appetizers, drinks or a desert. Also, it is bad form to rummage through the pockets of the coat that was just returned to you for the tip for the coat check personnel. Have it in your hand, produced from the small wallet you have kept with you, and present it with your claim check.
Your Phone – There was a time a few years ago when I would have recommended a small notebook to go along with the pen. Jotting down ideas, names and phone numbers or email address is easier on the paper you keep with you than on a napkin at the table. However, the phone becomes even more useful for this. You’ve probably got an app for taking notes. And it is very easy to send a quick text with contact information, even if you just send it to yourself. However, remember that a man of style and substance will be conscious of the phone without letting it interfere with the evening. If you are a heart surgeon on call, by all means, check every text coming through. Other than bona fide emergencies from sitters, kids, and work, keep the phone in the pocket.
Your Character – This might seem like it doesn’t need to be said. After all, a man of style and substance is all about character, right? Yet I have seen instances where individuals have believed that the event they were attending somehow gave them leave to adjust their standards ever so slightly. And while they were certainly small offenses, even small actions built up over time have consequences. I try to remind myself that, no matter where I am, my actions in that moment are perhaps the only exposure that they will have to who I am and what I represent. And a momentary lapse in character can result in a lifetime of negative consequences.
What do you think of this list? Was there anything that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.