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A Tale Of Two Coats

May 20, 2014


Lee bought a new sport coat while we were here and it doesn’t fit him. Do you want it?

Sure, Mom. Thanks.

My mother and my step father were in town for the blessing of my granddaughter. My step father is a big guy. He towers over my 6′ frame and easily outweighs me by 50 or 60 lbs. So, naturally the coat didn’t fit. That wasn’t the surprising part. The surprising part was that I expected it to fit.

I wear about a 40R and this coat is a 48R. However, since typical office attire at my office is shorts or jeans and t-shirts, I doubt anyone will notice if my sport coat fits a little loose.

But, why had I assumed that a coat from a man who wears 10 sizes larger than me, would fit?

Because it has in the past. Well, not from Lee, my step day, but from Lloyd Bliss, my father. Before my dad passed away, it was not unusual for him to say something like,

I got a new leather coat today, but it doesn’t fit right. Would you like it?

My dad was not a big guy. He was several inches shorter than I am and about 40-50 lbs lighter. And yet, every time I tried on his “new coat” it fit me perfectly. It became so common that I started to think my dad bought his clothes sight unseen. Maybe he mailed away for them. Surely, if he tried them on in the store there was no way they even came close.

After he passed away, us kids had the bittersweet task of helping my mother clean out his closet. My dad had great taste in clothes. He ordered his shirts custom made. They didn’t have a top button. He didn’t wear them with a tie and he didn’t like the way they looked with the lonely button at the top.

And that’s when it hit me. I guess I’d really known all along, but I was pretending to myself. Of course he didn’t buy a coat that was the wrong size. He bought a coat in the exact size he wanted. . .mine.

Not a single piece of clothing from my dad’s closet fit me. Not even close. He had a problem at times giving gifts. This was his way of getting the benefit of giving a gift without having to deal with the emotional aspects of someone thanking him for buying them a gift. It’s a weird way to approach gift giving, but it worked for him.

My dad’s coat reminds me of the role that mentors play in our careers. I’ve had mentors at times who arranged for wonderful opportunities to come my way, but they preferred to stay in the background.

That’s great that you got the SWAT team position. You worked hard for it.

And I might have. But, they also worked hard behind the scenes. And like my dad’s closet full of custom tailored clothes, it’s often not until after we or the mentor has moved on that we realize just how influential they were in our success.

Somedays I miss him a lot more than other days.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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