The Guy in the Hat

I may have a problem. Sixty high-quality hats and counting. I’m not sure when a collection becomes a vice. And I’m not asking. Panama, fedora, trilby, cowboy, porkpie, top hat, fisherman, and sombrero. Leather, wool, felt, rabbit fur, or straw, and every color – even purple.

Bruce Hendrick is a man of many hats.

Practically, where does one even put so many hats? For now, I use two spinning displays as you find at stores, so I can easily select one to match my daily attire. These hold 24 hats each, leaving a dozen or so on nearby hooks.

On the rare occasion I appear hatless, an acquaintance will greet me with “Hey, where’s your hat? I almost didn’t recognize you.” Wearing hats has become part of my identity, my personal trademark. I feel underdressed without one. Meeting someone for the first time, I usually just say I’ll be the guy in the hat.

Not just any hat will do, either. It must be high quality, not necessarily expensive, just unique and well made. I haven’t worn a baseball cap in twenty years.

Okay, but why? Is it fashion? Attention-seeking? Individual expression? Rebellion run amok? Ego? After lots of thought, it comes down to this: I’m a 57-year-old kid. I love hats, it’s fun, people like them, and nobody can stop me. Plus, all the reasons above, too.

Years ago, I cemented my relationship with hats by including one in the logo of my business, Building Trust. Literally, a hat became my brand, and any vestigial guilt disappeared. After that, whenever I traveled I sought out the oldest or best hat shop in town. And while hats don’t say anything about the services we offer at Building Trust, you can trust that I’ll be the guy wearing a hat.

So where do I go from here? I’ve been called “the man of many hats” so often, it’s like I have a reputation to uphold. Better go shopping.

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