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Topic #5
Buzz buzz goes the needle…




I have a tendency to over-stress and panic a lot.  When I'm not grasping for something to panic over, I usually just look pretty glum. Maybe this stems from the fact that the way my life is right now, I feel like a person who lives a double life.  As the astute reader may note, I live in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco, a grungy place with it's fair share of the pierced and tattooed masses, (and I say that in a good way&#41 but I work in the ultra-conservative financial district amidst a sea of white-shirted men and designer-clothed women with lots of money.

Every time I put on my business "costume" and go to work, I feel like such a…I don't know…a hypocrite?  How can I pretend to be a respectable, ordinary-looking person during the week when inside I really don't feel respectable and ordinary?  How many more times can I hide my tattoos and take care to remember to speak without opening my mouth too wide for fear that my pierced tongue will be discovered?  I have taken a lot of liberties, but I want to really be me. More than anything, though, I guess I want the homogeneous boring clone culture that is wealth and power to know that I'm not like them.  

I have two tattoos, one on my ankle and one on my upper arm.  When I got the one on my arm done, I felt like such a compromiser, making sure that it would be hidden by the short sleeve of my shirt.  I want people to see my tattoos. I want to be able  to get more if I so choose.  However, even though there is no explicit wording in the employee manual regarding body art, it does venture into a grey area when it talks about "neat and professional appearances."

What's all this "Be yourself" nonsense that you hear while you're growing up in mellow suburbia? What happened to the "we're all such unique individuals and that's what makes each of us special" message? They tell you to be yourself, yet what They really mean is be yourself as long as it offends no one.  Be yourself as long as the picture and accompanying caption of  "yourself" meets the standards of the normal majority.

I just can't believe that in 1998, the old-fashioned notion of tattooed = thug or pierced = illicit drug user still holds strong.  I do my work better, more efficiently and with more quality than most other people. Whether or not I choose to decorate my body in a certain way obviously doesn't change that.  What I want to know is, who are these people who are getting offended (and/or scared&#41?  Do they think that if the person who serves their coffee at Starbucks has an eyebrow ring, that means s/he doesn't wash her hands when leaving the restroom? That there's a greater chance of him or her getting their latte order backwards?

I suppose I'm not surprised that there's still no progress on the acceptance of body art into the mainstream corporate culture.  After all, I'm still waiting for equal pay! 

Buzz buzz… should I talk about tattoos or should I talk about Brian Setzer… I really don't know. I mean I am really looking forward to the Brian Setzer concert next month. I'm also looking forward to getting some more tattoo work done this Friday by Idexa at Black and Blue tattoo. Choices choices choices.

What the hell, I'll talk about my tattoos. Why do I get tattooed? Again, like how I feel about boxing, you won't know unless you do it… or at the least unless you feel that urge to take control of your body… to mold it in your own image.

Ooh… look at Avery trying to play God. Hell yes, I take every every opportunity to take control of my life. I don't care if it's taking control of my job, my plans for the weekend, putting another hunk of steel in my body, or getting ink subdermally implanted.

And why shouldn't I? Some people wonder if it's appropriate for someone in my line of work to get tattooed. Hey, I make some compromises for work… but there is a place where I draw the line. Only my earring is visible (and my Director actually has given tacit approval for me to have it&#41… none of my tattoos are visible unless I wear a t-shirt.

That's why I don't care if anyone I work with reads this. It doesn't change WHO I am. Tattoos are a way of letting me express who I am in my own way. I'm no less of a professional at the office, and I would never make my company look anything less than professional. So, why the hell should it matter to them that I get tattooed?

The answer is this: it shouldn't. But, for some reason, it does. But, it really shouldn't. When I  go to my father's trade shows (he designs and markets futons&#41, they don't see me as someone with a bunch of tattoos… which, since the last meeting was in New Orleans, they were all visible… they see me as a smart marketing agent with good insight into the furniture business. Where I work now, I'm afraid that if it was publicly known that I had tattoos, it would be a major Career Limiting Move.

But, I have made a decision. On this website, I am going to write about whatever I want. If anyone that I work with sees this, ask yourself if this changes anything? This is still the same Avery who has appeared in front of 5 my product's 7 largest customers… the person who secured 20 million minutes of new traffic from our #1 customer and grew our largest insurance customer by 7 million minutes a month… and I did both of those with the tattoos and the earring. If you can't handle it… ignore it. Just ignore everything that you read.

Just remember, I'm not to make your life easier. I'm just here to drink a few beers.

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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