Mistaken for an Authority

I like to wear a blazer most of the time. I find them very comfortable, they have conveniently positioned pockets, they’re appropriate for most social contexts and I think I look good in them. I’ve got a small collection of them, which I mostly just pick up in charity shops for under £10 when I can find them.

Wearing them so often, I’ve noticed a strange power that they seem to have: making people think that you have some level of authority. Which is quite amusing. Let me give you some examples:

  • When I was in the third year of university, a first year student mistook me for a lecturer.
  • When I went to an ice skating rink, a couple of peopled asked me for the rules about skating, assuming I worked there.
  • When I accompanied a friend of mine as they went to a doctor’s appointment, they mistook us for inspectors (we were both wearing blazers.)
  • Once when a friend of mine and I wanted to explore the private parts of a fancy building we were in, we just went there and got away with it by acting like we belonged there (again, I was with another blazer wearer.)

I suppose, to be fair, I am being a bit presumptuous. It could be a string of coincidences and, in each of those instances, a person wearing different clothes would have been mistaken in much the same way, but it seems unlikely. It’s the sort of thing that happens fairly regularly. It’s also worth considering that being a white male with a “well spoken” voice may also be contributing factors. Which would be unfortunate.

It makes me think, it must be quite easy to be a con artist. If a certain type of jacket instills in people some level of trust without you having to do anything, it must be really easy to take advantage of that by consciously playing up the notion that you are a trustworthy authority. Someone once told me that it’s just as easy to do with a hi-vis jacket too. It’s interesting, and disappointing, to think about how much importance people place on these surface level things.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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