all flat hats and micks in shirtsleeves


New Member

This paragraph is from Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin. I have trouble understanding the bold phrase and would appreciate any input in explaining it.

<-----Excess quotation removed.-----> I had to get out. The plan was to look for a job, get my own little place, maybe work on a play, or get a job on a paper somewhere. There were ads in the circulars for bartenders and waiters, but I didn't want to go that way, all flat hats and micks in shirtsleeves. I found a gig as a telemarketer, but I needed a dedicated phone line in Corrigan's apartment, and it was impossible to get a technician to visit the housing complex: this was not the America I had expected.
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  • Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    - flat hats - these are caps traditionally worn by manual labourers (and strangely by the British upper classes) - check Google images
    - Mick is usually slang for an Irishman.
    - in shirtsleeves - means that they're not wearing jackets, often with their sleeves rolled up - check Google images again

    I think he thought that bar-tendering or waiting was a bit too working class for his liking.

    It seems that the speaker had just come from Ireland and was expecting something better from New York, unlike his brother, the main character. There's a synopsis here:
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    Senior Member
    American English
    Mcks are Irish men and if you'll put "Irish flat hat" into Google Images, you'll see the headgear they were wearing (I can't get a link on the iPad).

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