There’s a Chilean in my Closet!

Guess who's hanging up what?

Guess who's hanging up what?

Whoever invented the wire hanger should have established universal rules for using it.

There are certain rules that seem to have been established arbitrarily at some distant point in time and space when someone made the first move and said, “I’m going to do it this way.” If you had asked why, they may have simply said, “No reason, I can do it the other way if you prefer,” or “because I’m left handed” or “because my sister was standing on the other side,” but for whatever reason the reason happened to be, their method ended up carved in stone and we don’t even think about it until someone upsets the balance.

Like what, you ask? Like driving on the right-hand side of the road, unless you’re a Brit-influenced driver, of course, and therefore prefer the left. Or whether the toilet paper drapes over the top of the roll or dangles from below. Or whether you draw a circle by moving toward the right or toward the left. I’m sure there are plenty of other practices that we could all indulge any latent OCD tendencies in, but today I think I’ll just dwell on hangers.

In my orderly little pre-Chile world, we hung things up with the hanger hook pointing toward the back of the closet. Never thought about it much. Wasn’t much reason to. Until I noticed that the woman I first lived with in Santiago would always hang things up “backward” as in hook facing forward,** toward the door.  Personal quirk, I thought. Until I went shopping and oddly enough, most of the stores did the same. The sales clerks glowered at me for hanging things up the “right” way. And when I started sharing a closet with my husband, we ended up with a mishmash of hanger-use practices that bugged me to no end but that turned out to be a non-issue for the Mister… And in his world, non-issue is synonymous with unimportant… which means not much chance for change… and I have more important re-training priorities (like the fact that plates should be washed on BOTH sides, but we’ll save that for another day…)

** How often do we see backward and forward meaning the same thing?

In my northern-hemisphere-oriented brain, the outward hook maneuver does seem to be more practical in that it only takes just one outward-downward movement to hang something up, rather than the push in, up, back, and down movement required for the “Chilean” method.

It is in my nature to try and make sense of things. Maybe, I thought, it’s because we’re on the other side of the world—like that bit about water in a sink swirling counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere (it doesn’t, by the way). Not even I, as originator of that cockamamie theory could muster up much enthusiasm for it. So I’m back to arbitrary. Not a very satisfactory answer.

I googled around for a while, searching for an answer to my relevant-to-not-much-of-anything question, and although I did find a few versions of the hanger’s rather recent invention (might have been US President Thomas Jefferson, could have been someone else in the mid-1800s, although Albert Parkhouse generally gets the most credit for having designed the first wire hanger in 1903. Too bad he apparently misunderstood the directions on the patent form and signed away his rights to the fortune his employer then received. Parkhouse never saw a dime). I also found a nifty voodoo coat hanger and a slew of hanger manufacturers, but not one who would take a stand on which way the hanger is “supposed” to go.

So let me be the first to go on record as saying that hanger hooks should definitely point toward the back of the closet… In my world. Because I said so. Even though my husband doesn’t believe me… Or care.

17 responses to “There’s a Chilean in my Closet!

  1. You are absolutely right. It makes no sense the other way for either putting hangers on the rack or taking them off… backwards is just awkward. This mix of the two ways, though would totally drive me batty.

  2. Ah Annje- I see we share a number of obsessions (or maybe they’re just quirks)… or maybe we’re just RIGHT!
    Glad I’m not standing alone out here in the hanger world!

  3. As promised, I fully support your method of hanging. It makes NO SENSE the other way. Too much work.

  4. Thanks Abby… I showed C the picture and pointed out that he had actually hung the circled ones and he said, hm, that’s odd, I never noticed… so, apparently unlike most people who have one particular hanging style, he is actually ambi-hangerous!

  5. Hangers facing forward, toilet paper hanging over the top.

    Basic efficiency.

    That’s why in Chile it’s most often the other way around.

  6. There is no disputing that you are correct on this matter. The other way is onerous, annoying, and yes, backwards. But then, so is people wandering around the store berating you with cries of “IS ANYONE HELPING YOU” when all you’re trying to do is purchase some new underwear (preferably alone, and without assistance from a stranger).

    Did I say that? I may have some (maybe not so) latent hostilities.

    Funny post! Keep ’em coming!

  7. If a Chilean had been in your closet, would anything remain?

  8. You both would be happy in my house. I don’t care how they’re hung up, the fact that clothing is on a hanger is shocking enough! Remember my sparkling clean house back in “the day?” Two boys changed that quickly. If I had an organized closet, hangers would be like yours.

  9. Well, when you put it that way, it does sound like nit-picking, doesn’t it!

  10. Matt, your comment made me laugh! I lived in Chile for a couple years and what you said sums it up perfectly haha.

  11. I’m Chilean and I’m almost offended by your assuming that all Chileans hang their hangers backwards. That is not true. I think Margaret has had bad luck, and the others are agreeing with her with no basis.

  12. Hi Pedro- Please don’t take offense! And I know that not all Chileans hang their hangers the same way… that is what’s perplexing… If everyone hung them facing in then I would assume I needed to make a change (when in Rome and all that), but the fact is that I had never seen this before coming here, and now I see it all the time.

  13. Hey guys….. I have never heard such an analysis of how to hang your hangers?….. you must have toooo much time to think about those things.
    It is totally irrelevant! Unless you suffer from Obsesive Compulsive Disorders thou….. je je je

  14. Hi Marcelo-
    Yeah, there’s probably a little of all of that… except the excess of time… which is probably why I notice things that are out of whack in the first place… but to my credit (I believe), it DID take 18 years to mention it!

  15. Sigo leyendo tu blog y disfrutando con tus observaciones de la vida chilena. Mi papa es chileno y mi madre española, aunque yo me he criado y vivido en España y puedo decir que soy española. He estado en chile dos veces de vacaciones pero considero mis raíces muy importantes. Cuando leí este post estaba en el trabajo, desde mi iphone. Al llegar a casa corrí a comprobar como cuelgan mis perchas. sorpresa! El 75 por ciento estaban hacia dentro, el 25 a la chilena!

  16. Gua-ja-ja-ja! Me siento bien revindicada ya! Genial! Gracias por reportear tus hallazgos closeteros! (¡sigo riéndome!)

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