“Bye J, have the most incredible first day”, my mom said as she left the first and hopefully last apartment that I’ll ever live in alone. My parents had gone above and beyond as always and spent the entire day moving everything I owned into the new place. I was fully ready and had everything I needed to start my job.
Or so I thought.
I had to be in by 10am, not bad, but I woke up early to make sure I got in my COMFY routine. By 9:00am, my mind was calm, my body was energized, and I was starting to get ready. I had my suit and shirt combo picked out, courtesy of mom the night before, and dad took care of meticulously fitting and tying all my ties, because I am very much still a child at heart.
I used to be a very superstitious kid. I thought that if I didn’t line up and put on my soccer uniform in the same exact order every single game, then my team would lose. I’ve fortunately grown out of that, but I still do have a method when putting on clothes, especially when it’s as complex a task as putting on a suit.
I usually go collared shirt (buttoning from top buttons to bottom obviously), socks, pants, belt, tie, jacket, and shoes. Pretty standard, but this day was a bit different. On this day, I skipped a step.
On this day, I completely disregarded the belt.
I’m not really a picture taker, and I’m certainly not big on selfies. Luckily though, like when Billy Madison headed back to school, my parents asked for a photo of how I looked before I left for work.
As I reluctantly stepped in front of the mirror, I noticed something was missing. My pants looked baggy and they were falling below my waist.
I was missing the belt.
I took the picture anyway, and sent it to my family. Just thinking I had forgotten it at first, I started to look around the room for where it may be. I searched the closet, my suitcases, and any boxes that were leftover for the missing belts. No luck.
At this point, I called my mom asking if she knew where we’d put the belts, even though I already knew the answer. With a gasp and an, “o, fuck” (I think I know where my slight potty mouth comes from), my mom replied that she was staring at the belts that we’d left at home.
The Beauty of the 5-Second Rule
My initial reaction was much like anyone else’s. I’ll save you the profanity, but I definitely cursed, thought I was going to get fired before I even started, and believed I was destined for failure.
But good thing these thoughts only lasted for 5 seconds. Mel Robbins wrote this fabulous book called The 5-Second Rule, on overcoming fear and doubt, and the specifics of the book are about using this 5-second rule to do so. When faced with adversity, you have 5 seconds to curse, scream, pout, or break shit, but once those 5 seconds are up, it is time to start thinking, start rebuilding, and start solving the issue at hand.
I quickly thought up a few options. I’d only been in the area one night, but I searched, “clothing stores near me”, and all the major retailers came up that were pretty close by, but they all opened at 10, so I was out of luck there. Then I called my brother to see if I could borrow one of his, but he was already at work. Then, I remembered that there was a thrift shop next door, but they had nothing.
What left was there to do? Then it hit me.
New York City is full of twentysomethings headed to their respective jobs. I was full on willing to buy somebody’s belt off of them on the street. Either do an “I owe you” and exchange information, or just pay right there on the spot.
I headed to my elevator with the intention of finding a grown man on the street, asking this stranger to remove his belt, paying this stranger, and then wearing his belt to my first day of work.
I stepped into the elevator and I was focused on the right type of person to approach. A guy in his twenties, wearing a suit, around my frame, no headphones in so he’s probably willing to chat a bit, and a guy who seems like he’s not in a rush. Standing with a pregnant woman and a girl and her dog, my answer was seemingly not in this elevator.
Then I met Bill.
Bill, perfectly enough, “fit the bill” of my ideal candidate. He was in his twenties, was wearing a suit, did not have headphones in, and was around my size. Most importantly, he was wearing a belt.
It was now all about my pitch. I decided to focus on honesty, vulnerability, and comedy to ensure I could get a belt from this complete stranger.
I tapped Bill on the arm as we got out of the elevator and made my move. I kept it simple, short, and light:
“Hey man, I am in an absolute pickle right now. I’m headed to my first day at a new job, and I don’t have a belt. By any chance, can I borrow yours, or do you have any extra?”
There was a fine line here between being creepy and being genuine, and while I definitely came close to it, I did a pretty good job of keeping it real, but also acknowledging the comedy of the situation. I told my story with a smile, and luckily, Bill was an awesome guy and agreed to help me out.
Bill grabbed me an extra belt from his apartment and I made it to work on time, belt on waist, ready to go. This isn’t one of those stories where Bill and I ended up becoming best friends, but I did see him around the building and we’d laugh about that moment of panic that turned into a story we’d both never forget. I bought Bill a bottle of Maker’s Mark and put his belt around his door when I got home.
So when panic seems to strike, embrace the chaos for 5 seconds. Enjoy your frustration. But when those 5 seconds are up, take a deep breath, and regain your composure. Start to consider your options, weigh those options, and find your Bill The Belt Guy.
This article is dedicated to Bill The Belt Guy. Wherever you are Bill, thank you, and I appreciate you.
Getting COMFY, specifically, is a 5-step morning routine to energize the body and soothe the mind.
Getting COMFY, more broadly, is a movement based on Getting COMFY waking up in the morning, Getting COMFY in your own skin, and Getting COMFY with the rest of your life.
Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness, is a book coming out on January 31st that highlights these ideas.
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