Sunday, May 27, 2007

Opinions and Tats in the Workplace

I've been think pretty hard about getting a tattoo lately. I don't know if it's because of seeing Laura's great work (Tattoo Rd 2), because of early onset of a mid-life crisis, or just because. I've always wanted to get a tattoo but didn't want to slap just anything on my body. I'd prefer something philosophy, ecological, or human rights related. I've love to hear any great suggestions that you guys have.

It will most likely be on the upper arm or shoulder. I'd love to extend beyond that but I have to break in the wife gradually. She's not exactly thrilled by me even thinking about my first tattoo.

I'm not worried about the tattoo from a work standpoint at all. The only jobs that I've ever held were at extremely laid back places or self-employed. My tattoos would never be visible during work, but even if they were or if my client knew about my tattoo, I wouldn't let that be a deterrent. Anyone that judges me (or anyone) in that manner, I would not be afraid to lose. What should the role of tattoos be in the workplace? I read a fairly interesting piece in our local paper (re-printed from a national article: Tattoos Help Redefine 'Business Casual'). It tells how many jobs are becoming more lenient towards tattoos (and piercing), most notably academics, while others are being forced to revise their office codes to address them. I'm kinda curious to hear Laura's views and stories of her tattoos in the workplace.

I have three ear piercings and a nipple ring. At the last job that I had, I wore earrings to work but while I've been self-employed, I've chosen not to. Am I kissing the ass of "the man" or just making a conscious decision to be realistic and to cater to the sensibilities of my clientele? Is it subverting part of one's self or is it a smart business decision ... or both?

And is this only about physical manifestations of our personalities? Many of us will not bring up our political or religious feelings in a work environment. Personally, I don't feel that it is suppressing part of myself. I just don't feel that those are appropriate places to talk about those things. Actually, I will rarely bring up those subjects even in social settings unless directly asked about them. Obviously it's not because I don't have strong opinions, it's just that the people that look like the biggest asses are those that are all too free with dispensing of unprovoked wisdom.

"'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." -- Abraham Lincoln

Concerning religion, I think a few of my clients would be surprised (and probably shocked) to know the truth. I've actually designed a website for one church, worked on a class presentation for a Christian school, and have done all kinds of computer work for a third church. Is it my responsibility to tell them of my religious views (or any views, for that matter)? Should my views really matter? My personal views have no bearing on how hard I will work for that client. I will do the job to the best of my ability and to their specifications. After all, they're not asking my to convert or to proselytize.

Regardless of whether it is a work or social settings, if I'm directly asked about anything - religious, political, etc. - I will give my honest opinion. There is a difference between not divulging information (that should not have any bearing on my ability to do a job) and bald-face lying.


Laura said...

Come on... become "one of us, one of us, one of us..." ;)

I cover mine around certain people at work. If I'm in my office, I don't care, but I usually wear a light sweater or something if I have to go to meetings or if I might bump into higher up people. In classes, faculty have seen them and some of my closer staff friends. I don't think it's necessary - higher ed (and this particular institution especially) are very liberal places. That said, I'm in administration and expected to be "professional". On top of that, I'm younger than everyone else, female, and have no PhD... so having ink showing would just seal the deal for some people that I should be twirling my pigtails and popping bubblegum. I'm alread mistaken for a student more often than not... I think the decision to show or not doesn't have anything to do with being subversive. You're still you. And don't we all show different sides of ourselves in different situations?

If you find a good artist (start asking people you see where they got their's done), start noting things (stlyes, colors, ect) that you like and bring in some ideas and they'll sketch it out. There's also lots of books about tattoo imagery & what it means.

dbackdad said...

Stop, you had me at "come on". lol.

I have several friends that have had custom work done in the Phoenix area. While I haven't been to any parlors out here, I've been into about a half dozen places in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, SD, etc. One of my roommates in college had all of his back done and both arms and I was witness to most of it. I'm amazed that I didn't get a tattoo then.

Thanks for the recounting of your work experiences. Very interesting stuff. I kinda expected what you said. The article seem to indicate that was one of the areas where tattoos were not so much frowned upon.

Sadie Lou said...

You must promise, if you do this, to post pictures.

(nipple ring and ear piercings? I never would have, though)

dbackdad said...

Sadie, I definitely will post it. I thought Laura's pics were very cool.

I've had the ear piercings for almost 20 years now. Got them when I was a junior in college. Got the nipple piercing about 10 years ago. Hands down, the most painful experience of my life. If it hadn't hurt so much, I may have had the other one pierced.

But don't let the earrings, nipple ring and long hair fool you, I'm still a tragically unhip bookish nerd. Just ask anybody that knows me.

Jeff said...

I've never personally been a big fan of tattoos but it if someone had one it wouldn't change my perspective on the way I thought about them. I think they should be allowed in the workplace because quite honestly I can't think of any good reason for them not to be unless they were blatantly discriminatory.

Laura said...

"But don't let the earrings, nipple ring and long hair fool you, I'm still a tragically unhip bookish nerd. Just ask anybody that knows me.'

It's funny, but I have a hard time picturing what you'd actually look like without you looking mildly like John Cleese. Must be the profile picture... ;)

dbackdad said...

He-he. If you hunt around enough (especially on my On the Road Blog), you should find a few pics of me.

Laura said...

I think I may have seen one here or there... it's just funnier to picture John Cleese with nipple rings. :p

Great White Bear, said...

tats, ear piercings, nipple piercings... GAWD, I AM SUCH A CANDY ASS!

Maybe this July, when I officially qualify for the senior discount at McDonalds, I'll finally get the cajones to get that Winged Wheel tattoed on my arm. Or an old English D.

dbackdad said...

"Candy Ass" is something you will never be called from me. You've done and seen more stuff in your life than I have even imagined.

I'm just trying to have my actions catch up with my appearance.

John said...

I personally never try to hide my tattoos, because they are me. That said, the one that is always displayed is the Mitch O'Connell of Laura and I, on my left fore-arm. Because I hate jewelry, I see this as my wedding ring.