Niagara Gazette

Opinion

September 20, 2013

HAMILTON: Kashaun Bivins and how Democrats and Republicans fold clothes

Niagara Gazette — It is important that we understand why Democrats and Republicans do many things differently. In fact, it can be a lot like folding clothes. In the end, the clothes get folded, but the main difference is in the purposes for which each learned or practiced to fold them.

I noticed that while at the corner laundry the other day where there was a bright, rather talkative high school student, who apparently had taken a job in one of the many local retail-clothing stores. There, Kashaun Bivins learned the art of folding the clothes that frantic shoppers left askew. I knew Kashaun from his elementary school days and engaged him in conversation as I folded my clothes. As we chatted and joked, he watched how I slowly and meticulously folded my tee shirts into tightly compacted units and neatly stacked them into the laundry basket.

“Why you fold your clothes that way?” he spurted. “That’s not how you fold T-shirts,” and then he grabbed one and folded it very neatly, albeit loosely, in no time at all, and doing so three-to-four times faster than I had folded the previous one. I asked him to fold another, and he did so, proudly demonstrating his training.

After his instruction, I practiced on a T-shirt and found it to be indeed faster. As I folded a second T-shirt, I begin to think deeply on why I still folded my clothes in the way that I had folded them for more than 40 years. Then the answer hit me; and so did many other thoughts related to the young man’s question.

“I know why I fold them this way, and why you fold yours the way that you do,” I said to him. “You learned to fold clothes that you placed on shelves or in bins. But in the Navy, I learned to fold clothes to best fit into a seabag, or in a small locker, so that they’ll come out with very few wrinkles. You fold clothes so that you can always easily go to them, but I fold clothes in a way that I can hurriedly pack them and easily go with me. Your focus is on staying where you are, and I focus on moving around.”

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