Thursday, July 24, 2008

If you want to get a head, get a hat

HR gave us managers a talk about dress codes today. I thought I'd heard it all before but apparently not. I was enlightened in two aspects: No hats allowed; no visible tattoos.

The hat thing floored me. But most people wanted to talk about tattoos. "What, you have to cover them even on Casual Wear Fridays?" someone asked, to murmurs of irritated encouragement.

I was phoning into the meeting, so no one saw me laugh. Even on Casual Wear Fridays? Either tattoos are stigmata marking you as a skanky proto-rapist with poor impulse control, or they aren't. I don't see what difference it makes whether it's Friday or not. I was more concerned about the hats. What have hats ever done to be unprofessional? A scant generation or two ago it was dee rigger to wear a hat, now it's deprecated. That's just fashion and I really don't see where HR get off being fashion police. Aren't they already busy with being attitude police, thought police and police police? Don't they ever get enough?

Jimmy Page wearing a hat

Jimmy Page wearing a very professional looking hat
of the sort one ought to be allowed to wear at work.

But no, it was the tattoos thing that was bothering people. It turns out that the objection to covering tattoos on Casual Fridays is that the poor inkee would not be able to wear a t-shirt like his or her colleagues on Friday, and would therefore be treated differently. Being treated differently is un-American. Fancy having to wear a shirt with sleeves or a collar on Casual Friday!

I'm not really sure I follow the rationale for Casual Fridays either, myself. Same objection as above. If clients think people in t-shirts can't do business, I don't see what the day of the week has to do with it. The existence of Casual Fridays proves that the dress code the other four days is just a demonstration of corporate power over the individual.

Then piercings were brought up and the fit really hit the shan. You can't cover up a pierced nose. Well, you can, but it would look funny. Some people have pierced noses because of their "cultural background" so we had a bit of a to-do over whether say, being of Indian descent was more of a meaningful cultural background than say, being a Burning Man-going drum-circle type of person. Once again, if it's allowable because it's your cultural background I don't see how you can say no to anybody. Nobody mentioned pierced ears, which I'll bet is due to the fact that almost all the white women have pierced ears. Even I do, although I regret it and hope that the holes will disappear one day.

I'm not sure what was decided because I'd sort of drifted off by then, but eventually someone brought up hats. Hooray! A hat defender. They said that people wore hats in the walk -in freezer to protect their ears. They're allowed to do that, HR said. Aha! A chink, if I'm allowed to use that word any more, in their Human Resourcical armor! Everyone rushed in like the Terror of Rue Morgue to exploit this exciting loophole, and HR found themselves narrowly avoiding being mandated to buy hats for everyone as a safety issue for walk-in freezer purposes.

I have heard it said that in some countries people work to produce goods, and this leads to the creation of wealth. I've often wondered what it would be like to work at a company that produced something. Anybody know?


kass said...

Producing something in america has gone the way of the hat as professional. We're a service society now, dontcha know, well on our way to indentured servitude.

That may change when China fully owns us and the tables are turned. We may eventually wind up making cheap trinkets for their newly empowered middle class. But we've got a year or two. I say go for it.... hats, piercings, tattoos, casual every single day, the works while there's still a bit of freedom left (shallow an expression as these are, that seems all americans can manage. Save starbucks but not the constitution, huh?). What's HR gonna do? Make you clean the toilets?

Speaking of freedom, what happened to the freedom to comment without password or google affiliation on this blog?

Peromyscus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peromyscus said...

I think HR fire you. This is an "at will" employment state, which means if they don't want to employ you, they don't have to. Mind you, I'm not *that* determined to wear a hat.

As for the other thing, I had a drive-by poster calling me a moron. I can trust people who are signed up to call me by my real name (Ms. Moron), so I went with that option.

kass said...

I honestly don't think at the level of your job that HR could get away with firing someone cause they don't cover their tattoo or wear a hat, even if California tells them they can.

They'd be foolish in the extreme to do that and your boss, who needs you, would take exception.

HR counts on fear, as does this administration, and it's the lack of people willing to call them on their bluff that has us sliding in the wrong direction fast.

Mike said...

Kass - It's all about choosing a fight that's worth fighting. Because you'll be on your own; your colleagues and managers won't support you. Neither will the unions.

In a survey of UK personnel managers, a third admitted to 'engineering the dismissal' of a troublemaker employee. Definition of a troublemaker: someone familiar with employment law.

For 8 years, I was bullied by management. I received zero pay rises, disciplinary actions, performance management, never with any explanation or justification. I never kow-towed to them, and when I was finally made redundant, I left with my integrity and not much else.

kass said...

Your integrity is a lot to leave with, but I take your point. It's why I'm now self-employed, having a trouble-maker personality myself.

And although I've managed to remove myself from corporate politics, it's still hard to hear they haven't changed in their pettiness and capricious power. And it's hard to watch america go down in a sea of shrugged shoulders and "what can one person do?" the irony being there are millions saying what can one person do.

It starts small, like at work, where they've got you by the balls (that's what you're saying, right?) and moves on up through the whole system, the sense of helplessness, acceptance and ultimately defeat.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
I sometimes mention a product on this blog, and I give a URL to Amazon or similar sites. Just to reassure you, I don't get paid to advertise anything here and I don't get any money from your clicks. Everything I say here is because I feel like saying it.