Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The most expensive $29 hat I ever bought and why it was worth it.

I was hired to shoot a job for the the Arizona Department of Tourism, and since Arizona is, as you well know, hot and sunny and since the whole point of shooting a project like that was to show, well, Arizona, I had a pretty good feeling I was going to need a hat.

I'd like to point out that I already had plenty of hats, most of them baseball caps and most of them black, which if you read this blog on April 12th, you understand why.

But this was Arizona Tourism. Jobs like this don't come along all the time, so when they do you need to get a hat worthy of them.

So I went to REI.

I found a hat that I liked. A Tilley Endurables.

The brim was wide, the crown vented. It had absorbent padding where the inside of the hat presses up against your head. But what really sold me on it was the pocket. There's a little pocket up in the crown that even has a fabric patch on it specially designed for you to write your name and phone number on it.

When I saw the price tag, I balked. It seemed like a lot of money.But my wife insisted. It was a good job and it would be better with a good hat, she said.

When we got out to the car, I took out a Sharpie and wrote my name and phone number in it. That way, at least I had a little bit of a chance of recovering the hat if I lost it.

I told her I felt silly spending $29 for a hat, and she got this funny look on her face. "Twenty-nine dollars?" she asked. I thought for sure she'd seen the price tag.

"Uh, yeah. Didn't you realize how expensive it was?" Now I felt really bad. I'd already written in it. There's no way I could return it.

"Yeah, but you didn't," she said.

My turn to get a funny look on my face. I asked her what she meant. She dug the price tag out of the trash bag and showed it to me.

I'd read it upside down. If I felt $29 was extravagant for a hat, imagine how I felt when I realized I'd dropped $65.

For a hat.

Okay, a hat with a pocket which, by the way, is incredibly useful. I stuff currency in mine –– US, Canadian, Mexican, and Turkish, so far. And a Lactaid pill, since I'm lactose intolerant and you never know when you're going to be out shooting in the desert, get separated from your entire crew, and have no choice but to eat ice cream in order to survive.

As for the other features, they do everything they're supposed to. The wide brim keeps the sun off my ears and neck, the vented crown keeps me only moderately sweltering, and the absorbent padding does a really good job of absorbing. I soak it with water and let the evaporation cool me down.

And the hat comes with a lifetime guarantee. If you destroy it or lose it, the Tilley company will replace it.

Of course, they only do that once. But still, that's like getting two hats. For $65. Which works out to $32.50 apiece.

Talk about a bargain.