Never Judge a Book by Its Tattoos

I was reading a post on LinkedIn this morning about a manager that requires his team to wear business attire – even if they’re traveling on a domestic flight. The idea behind this  “you never know who you’ll run into and you’re representing the company” makes sense I guess. They say something similar in AA – “you could be the only example of recovery that person will see” so act as if.

For years though I’ve heard the old adage “never judge a book by its cover” – you have no idea what the story is inside the jacket and you might find, by turning a few pages, you rather enjoy the trip down into the looking glass.

Where I work they have a policy in place that insists I cover up the tattoos on my arms. To be fair they didn’t allow me to read the employee manual until I had been a temp for three months and had been wearing casual attire (including short sleeves) every Friday.

They really like me there (so they keep telling me) and I still wear short sleeves on Fridays and other days (it is the desert after all).

I am extraordinary at my job (and maybe a little egocentric). I have a Midwest work ethic (If you’ve lived in the Midwest for any length of time, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “Midwestern work ethic.” It’s an unwaveringly pragmatic and dogmatic belief that hard work and perserverance rooted in quiet humility pays off in the long run. Source.) I work to get the job done and there is a satisfaction in getting there provided I worked hard to achieve it. If you want to recruit a good worker start in the Midwest (opinion).

My tattoos don’t tell the story of my work. I don’t have tattoos that are particularly offensive to anyone nor are they vulgar or violent in nature. They are an expression of who I am and moments in my life that I wanted to permanently mark to show they changed me. Each one is a story in itself and those stories have shaped me.

A guy works on my team and during his interview he had the audacity to state he wouldn’t wear long sleeves to work. That he always wore polos and he hoped that wouldn’t be a problem. I found that particularly ballsy, the guy hadn’t even been offered the job yet. That was over a year ago and he’s one of the best workers to come through my department – still wears a polo shirt every day. Unfortunately he doesn’t have any tattoos nor is he from the Midwest.

My point is – had I just judged that guy on his inability to wear a shirt and tie to the office I would have missed out on what he’s brought to the team. He’s an integral part of what I do at the office each day and if he weren’t there I’d likely have to work longer than I do already.

I’ve been judged not just by my tattoos but also being out as a gay man and an atheist. When given the chance to show what I can do in an office, a factory, or online then they recognize the quality within.

I’m not here to pound my chest and say “look at me” but I am here to remind people that what matters is the actions, reliability, dedication. Those things can be found in many different shapes and sizes – tattooed or not.

Other thoughts on tattoos: My Tattoos

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