Tattoos in the work place

21 08 2008

I have tattoos.  More than 1.  Less than 10.  I have multiple hours of work on my body and hundreds of dollars.

The first thing people notice when they look at me are my tattoos.  That is, unless I go out of my way to cover them.

I am lucky enough to currently have a job where my boss dictates the dress code, and also a really cool boss.  If he chose to let us wear jeans everyday, we’d be able to.  If he chose to make use wear formal business attire everyday, we would have to.  He is pretty lenient.  For the most part, I would define our dress code as “business casual”.  But it’s not even that serious.  I do work for the government, so you might think they would be a little more strict.  Let me just say again that my boss is a pretty cool guy.  When I first started this job, it was February in Pennsylvania.  I wore long sleeves and pants to work everyday, which covers all of my tats.  Now, it’s August, and while not as hot as some states, it is hot enough that I don’t want to wear pants and a sweater.

I wear short sleeves and skirts which show my tattoos.  I sit behind a desk where I deal with government officials (nothing too fancy, this isn’t D.C.), but mostly I deal with the local population.  Namely, old people.  Now, I have a huge tattoo on my arm.  Most people look at it and say, “Wow.  How long did that take?” or “Wow.  That is beautiful.”  But today I got something that threw me off guard.  I want to add that I do cover my tattoos at more formal events.  I know where and when I can push the boundaries.  Today my boss and another local government official held a “Senior Citizen Expo” where local businesses and companies set up tables with free stuff and tell them about services that they provide to senior citizens.  Generally, when it comes to old people, I try to cover my tattoos.  I was working the event, mostly taking pictures because I seem to be the only one who knows how to work a digital camera, and an elderly man walked up to me and said, “You were in the service?”  I didn’t know this guy.  I said, “Yes… How did you know?”  To which he replied, “Well, I saw your tattoo peeking out and I just assumed as much.”

I don’t know why this sort of threw me off guard, and I wasn’t offended by any means, but I was taken aback.  I remembered that when this guy was my age, the only people who had tats were in the service, and their tats were hearts with banners that said “Mom”.  Or of anchors if they were a sailor. When people ask me about my tattoo and what it means, sometimes I just say, “Well, I was in the Army and everyone had a tattoo.”  But really, I’m just too lazy to go into detail and why should I tell a stranger the motive behind my tattoos?

Why should anyone care about my tattoos?  It’s my body.  I’ll do what I want to it.

My biggest pet peeve is when people come into our office and look at me, but then completely ignore me and wait at the other person’s desk for help.  Like I’m going to eat their souls or something.  Hey, you know what – go ahead and wait at Joe’s desk.  I don’t mind.  I’ll just sit here and surf the web while he works.  I offered you help but if you want to wait, go ahead.

How about the age-old question?  — What are you going to do in 50 years when your skin is all saggy and your tattoos look so ugly?

I always say, “Who says I’m going to be saggy and ugly in 50 years?  Maybe I will age beautifully!”

(That’s not me, but she’s 50.)

Or — What will your grandchildren think!?

If my grandma had tattoos like I do, I would think I had the coolest freakin grandma ever!

Anyway, I just felt like ranting for a minute.

What do you think?