My silly overalls story:
In 1977 I had a pair of white overalls with shoulder straps, like painters have. Only mine were much trimmer and lighter weight, not work grade, and they actually snugged in at the small waist I had at the time [SIGH], very form fitting, almost feminine, and they had slightly belled legs.
I wanted to wear them to a John Denver concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC one evening. But I had to do a college internship stint at CBS corporate headquarters at "Black Rock" that same afternoon, so first I got permission to wear the overalls with a T-shirt up to the Media Relations office where I worked, breaking corporate dress code, so I could go directly to the concert afterwards.
But around 4 my boss suddenly told me an unscheduled meeting had been called to review the pre-print "dummy" of the annual shareholders report before it was published. It was a Corporate VP-level meeting, but my boss was attending as Director of Media Relations because his office would be fielding inquiries from the Press after its release, and he wanted me there as his assistant.
I tried to get out of it, being dressed like a painter. But he insisted, so in I went to this huge boardroom with all the suits, about 12 of them. My boss explained my unconventional appearance as due to the concert, and made it sound like I had some official CBS function there, which satisfied the VPs.
The room was mid-70s hi-tech, all smooth wood paneled but with hidden electric sliding panels that revealed TV monitors and projection screens, as the VP for Shareholder Relations, the chair of the group, wowed us with a multi-media presentation of how great CBS Inc had done the previous fiscal year. Then the paper dummies of the proposed shareholder report were passed out around the large polished table at which I sat.
I'd never seen it before, so while the suits went around the table with business I quickly scanned it. My boss finally had his turn for comments, and then surprisingly he asked for MY thoughts.
ME??? I'm a college intern. Yeah, maybe I'm an Army Officer on academic leave from active duty to complete my degree, but I'm sitting here in white overalls, and you want me to address these CBS Vice Presidents? About a shareholder report I've never seen before? Something I know nothing about?
But I took the bait, and began to list all the problems I saw with the report. Figures that didn't match the graphs, contradictions in the narrative, omissions that should have explained a drop in shareholder dividends due to a major acquisition of Fawcett Publications, and the rather questionable purchase of the Hammond Organ company.
The silence was deafening. Finally the meeting got moving again, and adjourned. Back in his office the Director said to me:
"What the Hell were you doing in there?"
"Well, you asked me to comment, and I did."
"I've never seen anyone rip open a Vice President like you did to him. His guts were all over the table. You know his career is on the skids now?"
"Well, I didn't mean..."
"The Hell you didn't. Where did you learn to do that?"
"Well, the Army, I guess. Our briefings can be pretty no-holds-barred."
"And you really never saw that shareholders report until we went in there?"
"No, how could I? I scanned it during the meeting."
"Incredible! Well, you've got a job with me when you graduate."
But I didn't. I went to the John Denver concert that night in white overalls, but when I graduated in 1978 I went to US Army Berlin Brigade, Germany. I might have gotten out of it, and taken his offer, but I loved the Army more than I trusted the uncertainty of the civilian job market, and maybe my own skills within it.
But I still can't see a pair of overalls, no matter what their color, without being reminded of what might have been, if I had taken the CBS offer and turned my back on the Army.