This has been a month of disappointment and hope for me here at the farm. My go-to for all outerwear has let me down. Carhartt has discontinued its RO7-D8T line of bibs. When my dear wife started looking for birthday ideas for me, she informed me that my bibs were not to be found on the internet. My first thought was she had not looked well. After a few days, I searched and searched. It appeared as if I would have to lose 50 pounds or gain fifty pounds to get the correct pair of bibs. Carhartt had done the unspeakable. They replaced my bibs with their new model, which took the two-pocket apron and put a zipper pocket in place. They replaced a classic with attire for a construction working kangaroo. They took the nearly indestructible snap pockets that were the perfect setup for a phone in one pocket and a wallet in the other with a built-in fanny pack. While they were at it, they flipped the hammer loop with the side knife pocket. I am right-handed, as most folks are, and I carry a knife everywhere I go. Mostly because I need it to cut twine or open whatever requires fingernails. I do not carry a hammer everywhere. I have no use for easy hammer access. Out of the habit of spending over twenty years with my knife pocket on the right, I tend to drop my knife to the ground when the pocket that I count on has been moved. The design team has taken everything that was good with bibs and made a mockery.
I struggled for a while. I had the idea of writing to Carhartt. More accurately, I was going to write down ideas and beg Tina to write to Carhartt. This was too big of a deal for me to handle. I was certain that when the obvious mistake was brought to their attention, my bibs would be back. After all Coca Cola washed away the mistake of The New Coke and brought back the classic. I was hoping, at the very least, they would have an excuse. Perhaps there were still some supply issues, and these were the Covid model. I could live with that. I could show my support and continue on, looking forward to the day when the world was once again on track. I could refer to the kangaroo bibs as the dark day bibs. They may even just be out of stock for the moment. More internet searching confirmed the worst. The only models left were for underweight and over-height folks or vice versa. My bibs simply were no more.
In my opinion, Pizza Hut is one of the biggest falls from grace a company has experienced. When I was a kid, I would read to get a personal pan pizza with the Book It program. At that time, Pizza Hut was an experience. It was the reward for the academic labor for children across the country. It was an exotic pizza shop that had more than just pizza on the menu. Their marketing was brilliant. What family would deny their child the reward of the pizza they earned? What family would sit not eating pizza that they had to buy for themselves to watch their child eat a pizza? They gave away the smallest pizza on the menu to secure a larger purchase. Now, Pizza Hut has teamed up with KFC. At what point does a restaurant think that combining forces with another restaurant with buckets of food is an improvement? Did they believe the buffet/trough made it the same experience? I needed to Google search for the person in charge of the Book It program and suggest they go to work at Carhartt. My bibs would surely return with better management in place.
Reality slowly set in. My bibs were gone because there wasn’t a large enough need for them to stay in production. Trendy-looking kangaroos are what sells. Sales keep the lights on. Traditions and appropriate britches are merely an afterthought. It has happened in the pickup industry, too. There was a time when a half-ton truck was still a truck. Now, half tons are built for a smooth ride, leg room, and power everything. The automobile industry has turned trucks into open-trunk cars. The need for a simple truck with a bench seat, standard transmission, manual windows, and a simple AM/FM radio has gone the way of the dodo. The lifestyle that required simple trucks, practical apron britches, and could be wowed at Pizza Hut is in decline. My grandparents' generation was the first to make the leap from farming with horses to tractors. The first of the tractors gave no thought to comfort. They didn’t even have any padding on the metal seats. Anything that didn’t require feed and didn’t fart in the direction of your face was an improvement. Now, if the air conditioner isn’t up to snuff, fieldwork waits for a mechanic to remedy the situation. We are turning into a softer, more pampered society, and the standard bibs were the last stand against drum circle beating, man bun-wearing, sandal-wearing sissies taking over.
For the first time since the beginning of social media, something helpful popped up. When Tina first blogged about the demise of my bibs, there was a comment. “Steve wears Round House bibs, and they are similar to Carhartt.” (The original two pockets on the apron, not the marsupial denim monstrosity.) A quick search on Google led me to the page where I could buy directly from the factory. There they were in all their two pockets with a snap glory. Two pocket apron bibs with correct hammer loop and knife pocket placement. As a guy who makes a habit of being cheap, I noticed they had a cheaper outlet option. As a woman who makes a habit out of being a professional shopper, the wife informed me that outlet means lower quality. Honestly, why in the world does it take a special dictionary to shop? I ordered my non-outlet size and waited for what seemed like an eternity for the last glimmer of hope to arrive. Round House has its program together and ships fast. I have zero patience when it comes to important matters. After a few days, they arrived. The pocket placement was correct. The material was thick, and the stitching was good. I have found my new fuzzy bottom coverings. Round House is holding the line against the encroaching “lumber sexuals” that think nothing of destroying products for the sake of making a brand trendy.
With the new year quickly approaching, I have hope. I have hope that there are still folks out there who will hold the line. There are companies in the USA that have their focus on products and not trends. There are good folks who believe increasing sales just to cater to what is in style while they built their business on what is not in style is wrong. I didn’t leave Carhartt. Carhartt left me.
Until next month, please hold the line, wash your hands, and check out Round House for their two pockets on the apron, correct placement of the knife pocket, and hammer loop apron britches. Unless you are a drum circle, long-haired, sandal-wearing kind of person, then help yourself to the company whose name shall not be spoken. (No offense if you do indeed wear a man bun, participate in drum circles, and wear trendy clothes). (My wife made me say that). She’s all about not excluding anyone, making fun of anyone, and being nice.