Get Specific: Pocket Use

[This column is a part of a series I’m doing that features a ridiculous zoom-in on certain aspects of my life. I often try to play with my perspectives, which include orienting my worldview based on varying time-frames, scopes, and other constructs. I always tend to think in grand terms, but for a little bit, I’m going to try and get specific.]

I suspect that all of us have a system of organization when it comes to how we use our pockets. I’m doing to focus primarily on my jeans, since it is a pretty common garment with (usually) a standard and consistent pocket structure.


RF – Right front pocket, or “The Go-To”. Seeing as I am right handed, this is my dominant pocket and thus where I keep my phone.

LF – Left front pocket, or “The Secondary”. This is the pocket where I keep my keys, because I access them less than I access my phone.

BR – Back right pocket, or “The Wallet”. This is, obviously, where I keep my wallet. I have easy access with my dominant hand and can regularly check to make sure it is still there after traveling in crowded buses or trains.

BL – Back left pocket, or “The Accessory”. This is where I keep folded napkins or facial tissue, because I generally have some sort of nasal trouble when traveling. It is also where I keep my clamshell glasses case, seeing as BR is perpetually occupied by my wallet.

So, let’s look at the function here. First an foremost, having these specific functions for each pocket minimizes the possibility of me losing things. When leaving any location, I do the “four pocket check” which includes tapping each pocket to make sure “keys wallet phone” are all on my person. I also perform a long stare at the place I was sitting before exiting to make sure nothing is left behind.

The pocket that I find to be most interesting is BL because of how it is used for anything out of the ordinary of seasonal. I am happiest that my glasses case fits so perfectly in it, and I have streamlined the motion of opening and closing the case and swapping out my sunglasses for my regular glasses. When navigating my pockets, it also boils down to this economy of motion, a kind of small dance I do with my hands in order to juggle the things that I am moving from my pockets. By having the set locations for each item, this dance only gets better and better and becomes second nature and a thing I enjoy doing.


Let’s take a closer look at this process. The objective: To swap my glasses with my sunglasses. We will divide the process into steps.

  1. Using my left hand, I remove my glasses case from BL.
  2. Simultaneously, I use my right hand to remove the glasses on my face.
  3. With my right hand, I perch my glasses between the fingers of my left hand.
  4. Using both hands, I open my glasses case and remove my sunglasses with my right hand. My regular glasses are still perched between the fingers of my left hand.
  5. My left thumb unfolds the left leg of my sunglasses while my right thumb unfolds the right leg.
  6. My right hand affixes the sunglasses to my face (this is when I feel the Coolest).
  7. Using both my newly free right hand and my left hand (which still holds the glasses case), I fold the legs of my regular glasses.
  8. My right hand places my glasses into the case and my left hand snaps the case shut.
  9. With flourish, I use my left hand to return the closed case to BL.

This may be the most complicated pocket navigation that I have to execute, followed closely by the opening and closing of my wallet. It follows a similar dance with my right hand, something that I am sure you can imagine without me having to go into exhaustive detail over the steps.

When considering economy of motion, frequency of use, and function of the items in your pockets, you develop habits and systems for how each pocket is used. When wearing jackets, I almost always keep a lighter in the inside-right zip pocket commonly found in outerwear. When I used to smoke cigarettes, the pack would go in my right jacket pocket.


But, I’ll end on jeans again. One of the appeals of denim (especially good denim) are their fade characteristics. If you ever see me wearing one of my better pairs of jeans, you will notice my phone outline on RF and my wallet outline on BR. A friend of mine also uses his BL as an accessory pocket, primarily for his tin of Snus Tobacco, which you can clearly see the circular outline of on all of his jeans. In this framework, the functionality of pockets also becomes a personal style statement, and a subtle clue into the pocket-owner and their life.

I can feel it already, the questions of “why?”. Why think about this so much? This might be too much information surrounding something that we generally don’t think about. That is exactly what interests me about it. How many processes in our lives do we do without thinking without considering how it happens? I know that we tend to naturally find the easiest possible way to do things like remove items from our pockets, but this kind of attention can be remarkably fruitful when finding tiny, minute ways of perfecting or innovating on your life and projects.

It is still, without a doubt, a silly exercise. But I know that giving my complete attention to anything, especially the mundane, opens to my mind to putting everything up to careful examination, which serves as a creative springboard. By thinking about the “dance” I do when fishing things out of my pockets, I bring attention to how I move through life in minute details. I don’t know if there are any improvements to be made on the process, or even if I’d want to implement them. But breaking down this movement into steps shows me that it is relatively complicated to describe, but tremendously easy to execute.

Which brings me to think about juggling. If you have ever seen a video of someone juggling, the motions are fluid and (when done well) looks effortless. As a juggler, I know that there are hundreds of small things I am paying attention to in order to create a fluid juggling pattern. When I practice, I break down the process into different steps, and after focused fine-tuning in each step, I bring together the whole in a cohesive way. Hopefully, thinking about this makes my experiment seem less silly. But that might be impossible, since all kinds of play and investigations at one point or another feel ridiculous.

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