My Cloak of Invisibility

Every day before I leave for the job I suit up in my orange fluorescent vest. I love these eleven things about it, in no particular order.


  1. It marks me as a person of distinction.
  2. It’s the first time in my life I’ve worn a uniform.
  3. No matter whether or not I wear eye liner and mascara, I identify to others as a man. Cross-dressing: cool.
  4. It’s the leopard skin pill box ubiquitous hat of construction.
  5. People see right through me. All they understand is the vest. I could rob a bank in my reflective vest. It gives me total immunity.
  6. It says I’m just a working grunt. The barista at the hipster café near the site barely deigns to meet my eyes. I’m a ghost. Not special, for a change. I’ve migrated from the chattering class to the working class. Yippee.
  7. The men on the construction crews accept me somewhat more readily as we’re wearing the same uniform.
  8. The vest never has to be washed. The dirtier the better, that’s the style.
  9. It hides my homely workclothes – I’m the Orange is the New Black of arborists, says my daughter, wearing my baggy Carharts.
  10. It’s transformative. It reminds me that I am different. Today I not only glow, I day glow.
  11. Old ladies ask me questions about things on the street, thinking I know something about something. “Is this a city project?” “Is the city going to be doing the whole street?” “Who’s paying for this, anyway?” You are, lady. I’m just standing here wearing a vest.


Filed under Arborist, Culture, Fashion, Jean Zimmerman, New York City, Trees, Writing

2 responses to “My Cloak of Invisibility

  1. Mimi

    Wow, a way to jump right into the Old(er)-women-are-invisible thing
    way before your time! Love the post- I’m still smiling!


    Yea! Let’s see a photo of the Invisible You in full gear! I think Carhartts are cool. They would work well with Buck Naked Underwear items from Duluth Trading Company! Such clever ads!

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