As I left college and entered the world of Banking, not only was a necktie a requirement, but so, too, was a sport coat. In many instances, a suit was worn. Sometime around the late 90's, I left one bank to go to work for a mortgage company. I had previously worked for the company, but the culture was now much more relaxed. The days of the necktie were long gone, except for conventions and association meetings. Dispensing with a routine that had become a part of my daily life for 20 years, was not easy, but I adapted. Within a few weeks, I was comfortable in the business casual attire that was becoming the norm.
With a brief respite at another bank for a few months, business casual it was. It seemed to set clients at ease, especially in the rural area where I conducted business in the mortgage industry. There were still a few occasions--meetings, conventions, conferences, etc., when I donned the formal clothing along with the largely neglected collection of neckties I had amassed over the years--but mostly, that section of the closet was not often used.
With the move south in 2009, and uncertainty in the cards, the necktie and suit made a brief return as I visited banks in the area hoping for a continuance of my profession. It was short-lived, however, and my foray into Florida's difficult housing climate signaled my change in direction. My career path was definitely headed in a different direction. My shrunken collection of neckwear--I had given away dozens of them prior to moving--hung lonesomely in the closet, left to commiserate with the dress pants, sport coats, and dress shirts.
Late in 2010, I embarked on the education trail by enrolling in the Educator Preparation Institute program at South Florida Community College in Avon Park. About a year later, the program was completed. In the meantime, I began to substitute in area schools. A renaissance was in the making. I made the decision that even though business casual was acceptable, and perhaps even the norm, in the classroom, that I would once again utilize the necktie collection that occupied a corner of the closet.
For the first three months, I was an itinerant substitute, going from school to school, dependent on the needs and the assignments available. I was usually the only person wearing a tie, with the exception of one assistant principal, at each school. In mid-November, I was given an assignment for the balance of the school year. I was in the court yard before school each morning and I wore a tie each and every day.
They were noticed. Students would ask, "Mr. Chandler, where did you get that tie?" "Mr. Chandler, how many ties do you have?" "Mr. Chandler, is that the Three Stooges?" "Mr. Chandler, how come you never where the same tie twice?" "Mr. Chandler, do you have a separate closet just for your ties?" "Mr. Chandler, I really like that tie." At that point, I HAD to wear a tie. Every day. It was expected by the students, some of whom performed a "Swag Ceremony" in the latter part of the school year. The ties have come full circle and the collection is growing. They are acceptable gifts once more.