Thinking entirely too much about pockets.

Every now and then my ADD addled brain will pass the time by contemplating pointless minutia while it’s busy doing other more mundane things like the daily commute to the office. This morning was one of those times and the minutia in question was the contents of my pockets.

Being a guy I don’t carry a purse so I rely on the various pockets in whatever clothing I happen to be wearing—primarily my pants pockets—to carry the handful of daily essentials with me. For me these essentials consist of the following items: Any money I happen to have, my wallet, my car keys, a 512MB USB Flash drive, fingernail clippers, and, most recently added to the list, my cellphone.

Pretty typical stuff and probably not at all surprising by most people’s standards, but it’s not so much what I carry that caught my brain’s attention as much as which pockets I carry them in. I’m not a particularly anal person overall, but on some things, such as which pockets I put my stuff in, I can be as as retentive as the best (worst?) of them. My wallet, for example, is always in the right hand side ass pocket of my pants and I find it very distracting to not have it there. If I pull it out for some reason and can’t easily put it back—say because I’m buying food at a drive through—I end up constantly fidgeting with it until I return it to its proper pocket because my brain keeps noticing that it’s not where it belongs and has to remind itself where the hell it put it. The thing is I realized that I don’t know why it has to be that particular pocket and, in thinking about it in detail, I can’t recall a time when I ever consciously made a decision to make that pocket the home for my wallet. Hell, I’m not even sure I can remember when I started to carry a wallet though I think it was in junior high school because that was the first time I was issued a school ID card. So why did I pick that pocket and why am I now incapable of carrying my wallet anyplace else without experiencing a lot of discomfort and nervousness? In high school I had a friend who carried his wallet in the front right side pocket of his pants and that always fascinated me. It didn’t seem like it would be comfortable at all and this was probably worsened by the fact that his wallet was overstuffed to begin with so when he put it in his pocket he looked like he had some weird thigh tumor thing going on. I can’t being to imagine why he chose that particular pocket to carry his wallet in.

I mentioned my wallet and my money as two separate things because I never carry money in my wallet. That is unless you count my debit card, in which case you could say that I never carry anything other than plastic money in my wallet. Any physical money I have on me—it’s rarely more than $20 these days due to my embrace of the debit card—is always carried in my right front pants pocket. If I have more than a couple of paper bills in there for any length of time they tend to get wadded up into impressively small near-singularities from my nervous habit of fiddling with any money I have in my pocket in an absent minded manner when I’m standing around bored. Usually it’s just a handful of change used to extract diet pops from the vending machines here at work. I’ve tried carrying money in my wallet, but I’ve never really seen the point because it’s usually not in there long enough to make it worth the effort of putting it in there in the first place (I have a similar attitude toward making my bed in the morning) and putting change in my wallet is just out of the question. So my wallet is relegated to carrying my license, plastic money, and various random membership cards (Blockbuster, CostCo, etc.).

The USB Flash drive, fingernail clippers, and my car keys all go into my left front pants pocket. Again I couldn’t tell you why other than perhaps for my car keys. I don’t put my car keys in the same pocket with my money out of fear that when I pull the keys out I’ll inadvertently pull out any bills I have in there without noticing it and they’ll end up fluttering away on the breeze. I’ve actually had that happen in the past so I long ago made a conscious decision not to mix my car keys and my money in the same pocket. I don’t put my car keys in either of my ass pockets because, well, I’d be sitting on my damned car keys and that just wouldn’t be comfortable.

My cellphone usually ends up in my shirt pocket if I happen to be wearing a shirt that has one like the t-shirt I have on today. When I don’t have a shirt pocket my cellphone ends up becoming a source of major irritation. At those times it’ll sit on a nearby table or on my desk while I’m sitting down because I’m worried that having it in any of my pants pockets runs the risk of breaking it. When I’m standing up I’ll usually put it into the pocket watch pocket of my jeans (the small pocket just above the front right side pocket). If I’m wearing cargo pants, a rarity that has become less rare lately thanks to an ill-considered purchase at WalMarts, I’ll sometimes stick the phone into one of the extra pockets on the legs of those pants, but I’m never really comfortable having it there because I can’t feel it and I end up worrying if I’ve left it behind at my desk. I’ll probably get a belt clip for it eventually, but even that’s no guarantee that I won’t damage it as I’m rotund in the belly. At this point I’ve not settled on a home for my cellphone beyond the shirt pocket when I have one.

Winter time is a bit better because I end up wearing a coat when I leave the house which affords me quite a few more pockets, but the only real change that brings is the migration of my car keys from my left front pants pocket to my left coat pocket. I also take advantage of the inside chest pocket my coat has to carry things such as my cellphone and the odd pen and scrap of paper to write stuff down with. I honestly don’t know why I carry a pen and paper in my winter coat and not in the warmer months as it’s not as though I have more occasions in the winter to write something down than I do in the summer, but I carry them anyway. As for the left side ass pocket? It’s largely unused and ignored other than occasionally becoming a temporary transport for random objects such as maps to amusement parks, fliers picked up while walking around town, or a screwdriver when my hands are full with PC components. Most of the time it’s empty.

The thing is I was suddenly aware of and fascinated by the fact that the majority of the choices I’ve made on which pockets to use for whatever objects have been largely unconscious. I couldn’t tell you why I chose the right front pocket to hold my money instead of the left or why my wallet only feels right when it’s resting on my right ass cheek or why I can’t seem to find a good home for my cellphone other than hanging off the left side of my chest. I began to wonder what other folks carry in their pockets and if they were as anal about which pockets they used for certain objects as I am or if they were even aware of making the choice to use a particular pocket at all.

OK, so it’s nothing all that Earth shaking to ponder, but it keeps the brain occupied during the morning commute.

23 thoughts on “Thinking entirely too much about pockets.

  1. Having my pockets stuffed is uncomfortable in my work (instrument making), so I carry my junk in a backpack.  I go out of the house so rarely with no pack that when I do, I’m always worried I’ve left it in the streetcar or somewhere.

  2. I keep my wallet in my left asscheek pocket, with big bills (20’s and up) and credit/debit cards in it.  I also keep ONLY money in my left front pocket for the very same reasons you’ve outlined.  car keys in the right front pocket.  cell phone usually goes in the right front shirt pocket.

    Sometimes when I’m wearing cargo pants, I’ll put the cell in one of the thigh pockets. It’s easy to get to if you need to play with the buttons, but with the BlueTooth hands-free thingy, you don’t have to worry about taking it out of the pocket.  The right front shirt pocket is still my favorite place for the phone, though.

    (A nail clipper, Les?  Don’t the edges cut a hole in your pants pocket?)

    I HATE having to take my wallet out and LEAVE it out – I like to have my gasoline credit card ready BEFORE I get to the station, and my bank card and ID is in my hand when I need to see the teller.  Like you, when I have to pull out the wallet, I simply can’t wait to place it back where it belongs.  Like a security blanket, I feel better when my asscheek knows that wallet is there.  It hugs the wallet, and I know the wallet appreciates and returns the affection.

    When I was young man taking the NYC subways at night, I used to carry a “throwaway” wallet – one that had those stupid credit card-looking advertisements in ‘em along with about 6 or 7 one-dollar bills. It was so much easier to just hand over a throwaway wallet to a mugger than to start a fistfight, and doing the Bernie Goetz thing wasn’t really an option after what happened to *him*, so the one or two times I actually had to use the throwaway was worth it. 

    Sorry – going off on a tangent there . . . one other thing: I cannot STAND people who come into a place and toss their giant, ready-to-explode wallets with papers and coupons and receipts bulging out the sides onto the desk or kitchen counter.  I would NEVER be able to do such a thing, as this Felix Unger switch turns on inside my brain, and I find myself staring at the wallet, imagining it in its proper home, anxiously waiting for it to be GONE FROM MY SIGHT . . .

    sorry. Breathe, Beau . . . breathe . . .

    As to which pocket you choose for which things, I think it has to do with being right- or left-handed.  I do just about everything with my left hand except writing with a pen, so maybe the “strong” hand is a factor in determining what we place in our pockets and where . . . therefore, I propose that whatever hand you masturbate or wipe your ass with will determine where you place belongings. If you’re a right-handed wiper, your wallet probably goes in your right back pocket.  Left-handed genital-juggler?  wallet probably goes in the left back pocket.

    It sounds scientific.  And stuff.

  3. I’d suggest that it can be somewhat “scary” what a person can “pick up” from other people without even knowing that they are. Parental instruction is not always obvious nor is societal influence. And while you’re at it, clothing designer influence.

  4. Keys in the front right pocket. The rest in a fanny pack or if I don’t want to lug it around, the things I need go in the front right pocket, too.

    I’m anal about keeping all the stuff to take along in the same place. Otherwise, I’ll forgot what isn’t right there.

  5. The hassel I have is when I change trousers, and forget to swap things over.  I washed a credit card again today.

    For the Record- usually don’t carry the wallet, just the cards.  Either way, back right – although many of my trousers don’t have a back left. Unless I’m wearing a jacket, when it’s inside left – right hander. In cargos the lower thigh pockets.

    Just about to hit the ‘send’ when I actually thought about it a bit more. We have swipe cards for the doors at work. This has to be back right.  However this means that it gets entangled with all the other crap (Wallet/cards, warrant, letters/forms, receipts) so I try the front pockets, but just doesn’t feel right. If I have a jacket on it gets the back pocket allllllll to itself, so I can flourish it with ease.

  6. LH writes: Just about to hit the ‘send’ when I actually thought about it a bit more. We have swipe cards for the doors at work. This has to be back right.

    I wear my security badge/CAC card on a lanyard around my neck, with retractable/detachable clips that allow me to pull and swipe (beg pardon!) whenever the need arises.  tongue wink

    At work, I’m *constantly* pulling and swiping and pulling and swiping and pulling and swiping!

    (pant! pant! pant!)

  7. Wow, Les.

    I carry a credit card and my driver’s license in a little leather envelope in either my back pocket or a cargo pocket (ideal).  Cash I carry in a little cardboard folder in my shirt pocket.  I do not wear shirts that do not have pockets – noplace to put a pen.

    I use a little Crumpler pouch for my cell phone. 

    You might like the little organizer pouch from Nite Ize, if you don’t mind the “Bat Utility Belt” aspect.  It’s a bit much for me.

    Otherwise I have to second the mention others have made about cargo pants.  They get the stuff away from that very busy area (for us plus-size gents) near the beltline.

  8. Wallet in front right pocket… I sit on my ass all day and the wallet hurts me if I put it in ass pocket.

    As for the front pockets it always changes depending on if I’m going to class or currently in school. The rule for the front pockets is simply: Keep anything hard away from the cell phone.

    So I might put the cell phone in the right pocket with pencils and keys in the left or vice versa. With the cell phone will go the paper money because I don’t carry money in my wallet either. Just ton’s o plastic. I have every school id from 6th grade and onward, and I’m a Junior in college. I don’t like throwing away my plastic cards so my wallet is a monstrosity. I wear very baggy pants with huge pockets and big shirts that cover my pockets so having things in the front pockets is never uncomfortable or weird looking on the outside.

  9. Front, Left Pocket: 1 Altoids tin, loose change, microfiber cloth for cleaning my glasses, security badge for the office, pocket knife (Leatherman Squirt P4).  I used to also have a Cross Ion pen (folds up really small) but I lost that some place.
    Front, Right Pocket: Key ring with all my std keys (car & house).
    Back, Left Pocket: Empty, though if I’m standing and need a place to put a small tool (e.g. screwdriver) I might tuck it in there for a minute.
    Back, Right Pocket: Wallet, containing driver’s license debit card, cash and membership cards.  I remember once having a small wallet but the amount of stuff I carry in it just grew & grew until it got to be a pretty fat one.  Unfortunately, it’s not fat with cash.  Just crap.  😀

  10. Cargo’s are certainly the way to go.  If I dont have a pair on, wallet goes in right ass pocket, keys either get a belt loop or, along with other crap collected throughout the day, go in the left pocket, and cell phone gets the privilege of the right front pocket.  I am not sure why I do this, but as with others, it is something I have always done.

    The only things that screws me up, is when I have a cut or scrape on a finger or my right hand.  So I start trying to put everything in the left pocket, so I don’t keep re-scraping my hurt finger or hand.  But out of habit, I still keep putting stuff in the right pocket and eventually the wound heals.

    I remember once having a small wallet but the amount of stuff I carry in it just grew & grew until it got to be a pretty fat one.  Unfortunately, it’s not fat with cash.  Just crap.  😀

    I still have that same problem, kinda like the one I saw on a Seinfeld episode.

  11. I switch back and forth on the back pockets for the wallet if I’m not wearing a coat that has an inside pocket.  Am not nearly as rigid as most of you heathen lefties.

  12. I wear my security badge/CAC card on a lanyard around my neck

    They annoy me. If I have to wear ID I prefer one of those pocket clip things like at conventions. No good for a swipe card. 

    Notice how there are none of the ladies commenting?  This is MANS talk. If your viewing Geek Mom, Sadie et al, sadly true.  Down the pub a couple of weeks ago we invented the ultimate after beer food- deep fried pork pie.

    Oh and small willy jokes.

  13. This is man’s talk because women are smart enough to carry purses.  MrsDoF has a really cool purse, ergonomically designed.  We stuff everything in our pockets because we wouldn’t want to look wierd, well, except for non-anatomical bulges everywhere.

  14. LH: This is MANS talk.

    Weird. I’ve actually enjoyed reading about pockets and contents.
    Being old school I still carry a handkerchief in front right pants pocket along with my keys.
    Wallet, containg cards, licence, spare car key, notes and change, in back right.
    In winter I always have a flannel shirt that contains my tobacco, lighter and pen in left and phone in right.
    In summer I don’t wear anything with pockets above my waist so everything goes into cargo pockets with my pen in the neck of my T-shirt.

    BT: It was so much easier to just hand over a throwaway wallet to a mugger

    Wow. You’re the first person I’ve heard about who made allowances for the inevitablity of being mugged. LOL

  15. Carrying your wallet in a rear pocket has always seemed odd to me.  Its a good way to mash stuff like cards, its easier for it to fall out, and easier for a pickpocket to take it from you.  With me its wallet and money in right front pocket, pens, keyrings, guitar picks, and anything else in my left front pocket.  Back pockets are for tissues, with the right pocket for nose wiping ones and left one for the piece I carry for cleaning off pop cans.(I never drink from a pop can without wiping the crap off it.  Its amazing how dirty most of them are.)

    I’m still mainly a cash user, especially since taking up bill tracking in recent years. Where’s Willy is where I track Canadian bills.

  16. Wow. You’re the first person I’ve heard about who made allowances for the inevitablity of being mugged.

    I read somewhere about carrying your cash in a money clip.  Then if you’re mugged, you drop the clip full of cash and run like hell.  I plan to flip open my little cardboard cash holder, scatter the cash, and do the same.  This all assumes I don’t just stand there wetting my pants trying to remember what I was supposed to do if I ever got mugged.  Get shot, probably.

  17. I have to say I think the wallet thing has to do with being right/left handed.  Well, I HAVE had a pair of dress pants that only had a RIGHT back pocket. 

    For me, wallet in back right, and although I carry punch cards, coupons, etc in it, I do lighten it when I can(blockbuster can use your DL instead of the member card).  Sam’s club annoys me – the damned card STICKS in my leather wallet card slot, so it’s a bitch to get out, then you have to wait for the cashier to hand your card back after you swipe your plastic.  I’ve actually broken cards in my old wallet b/c of design and folding style.

    I prefer to have a jacket to carry stuff in, but in Texas, you gotta be ready to go lightly clothed.  If I put my cell in a pocket, it goes front left, but it bugs me, and I prefer to put it in a case and clip it somewhere.  I never carry my wallet in my back pocket when I’m on my bike – I always put it in my jacket pocket for both security and convenience. 

    My car keys go right front, along with the pocket knife.  Has to be the right handed thing, b/c before I got a clip knife, keys and a folding knife could get bulky – oh wait, just remembered: keys went on TOP of the knife, since it was more comfortable that way, and I would put the knife at a roughly 45 angle.  That and my old pocket knives were usually heavier than my keys.  And I would constantly adjust it to stay that way.  Now I have a keyless entry/car alarm fob, I ALWAYS turn the buttons in to face my thigh and make sure there is nothing between the buttons and the back of the pocket, so nothing gets triggered.  When I carry my clip knife, I’m always checking it to make sure it isn’t about to fall out.

  18. How come I got the feeling reading this that it was written by George Carlin masquerading as LES. What a hoot!

  19. Consigliere informs: Am not nearly as rigid as most of you heathen lefties.

    You’re not “pulling and swiping” hard enough! 

    Last Hussar notes: Notice how there are none of the ladies commenting?  This is MANS talk.

    YEAH!!  What would THEY know about unsightly bulges in their clothing or how to hide all those bumps sticking out from their garments!  LOL

    LJ19 sez: Wow. You’re the first person I’ve heard about who made allowances for the inevitablity of being mugged.

    Yeah . . . after you get mugged the first time, you’re in SHOCK.  After the second time, you get MAD and fight back.  rinse and repeat.  After all the fights and bloody knuckles and scars and police reports and court appearances, you realize that all the dopes really want is some money, and once they get some, they’ll GO AWAY (most times it was more than one person doing the mugging – strength in numbers and all). 

    Once I got married and had a kid, I felt it was smarter to just hand over a throwaway than to “teach them a lesson” that my testosterone-enhanced younger self *desperately* thought they needed to learn.

  20. How come I got the feeling reading this that it was written by George Carlin masquerading as LES. What a hoot!

    Shush- there’s a woman present.  No really- this is MANS talk. Women just think it’s all Dirty Jokes and Sport.

  21. I have more unanatomical bulges than anyone I know.  If I could afford it, or had the gumption, I would sew subpockets in all my pants/shorts to hold items neatly.  As it is, everything I carry, daily, has a pocket it goes into, and it has to go into that pocket and that pocket only.

    RF- keys, Swiss Army Woodsman knife, “good luck charm”/magnesium block, pen (optional)
    watch pocket- lighter, RFID key on work days, in RF if no WP
    LF- wallet, folding money (I never carry cash in my wallet unless it is a large amount I don’t want to flash in public), coin purse, small Gerber lockback, pen, lighter if no WP
    RB- Loyalty cards, Get out of Hell Free cards, business cards
    LB- comb

    I too have some European style pants with only one back pocket, on the right, and it is always a pain in the ass to comb my hair, as I have to retrieve it with my right hand and pass it to my left.  Awkward!

    I write with my left hand but my right hand is not a useless piece of flesh as many right-handers assume (I consider myself ambilateral).  Keys in the right front probably because the house I grew up in had the lock on the right side.  Coin purse because I do not like to make noise as I walk and fishing in pockets for change while the cashier looks at you, hand out, is lame.

    I probably look absurd with all the bulges spoiling the clean look of my pants, but I really don’t care.  I’ve got my stuff, and I am READY.  That’s all that really counts.

  22. I’ve heard that wallets in your back pocket can give you bad posture, and since my cellphone is in its own holster on my right, I figured I’d keep my wallet in my left front pocket and keys in my right front. Since then I saw a mythbusters where they put a credit card in an elecric eel tank. pissed off the eel, and nothing happened to the credit card, so now I guess a little cellphone radiation won’t erase my credit cards after all.

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