Friday, June 06, 2008

COLUMN: Dress Code

We've got some new employees at the day job.

As much as I tend to resist change, I kinda like it when there's some new blood around. Having to adapt to new faces and new personalities keeps you on your toes. Plus, they're pretty cool people, so they'll fit into the fold nicely.

For the past week, we've watched them dip their feet into the newspaper world and go through the usual new employee initiation rites. They've had the meeting with HR. They've had the OSHA lectures ("Don't sniff the white-out!") They've gotten lost in the catacombs of our office. And they were here for approximately a day and a half before The Topic came up. The one that's spoken of in hushed tones. The one that all employees, whether they've been here a day or a decade, have a hardened opinion of. The one that can make a manager cringe from 100 yards away.

I speak, cautiously, of our company dress code. (The sound you just heard was every employee of our company gulping.)

Okay, not really. Our dress code is, quite simply, No Big Deal. It's fair, it's not harsh, and it makes basic business sense. We're not required to wear a top hat and tails or anything. It's probably looser than YOUR workplace's dress code. Use your head, don't look like an outright slob, and you'll hopefully float underneath the radar of the fashion police. (In other words: Dear Managers, I'm not complaining. Please don't hold this column against me and my Tommy Bahama action-wear.) Still, there are a couple aspects of our dress code that cause the occasional grumblings.

For the ladies, it's something called "capris." To this day, I'm not exactly sure what they are. I think they're some kind of mutant half-pant things. I just know we're not supposed to wear 'em. Well, we couldn't wear them, then I think we COULD wear them if the leg came down to some level where they effectively stop being capris and start being pants. And now I think even those are verboten. As a guy, I could care less, but there's not one mention of our dress code that comes up without one of our female contingency muttering something about capris under their breath.

I'll let that controversy rest, because for me, it's what lies below the capris that matters. And no, I don't mean undies. (Dear Managers, have I mentioned how much I'm NOT complaining? Please don't ban my undies. Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.) I'm talking about shoes.

"Athletic shoes" are kinda frowned upon in my department. This bums me out a little, because I'm definitely a casual shoe kinda guy. As a life-long wussy-boy, I've got wussy-boy feet. They get cranky in dress shoes. If they get stuck in a hard-soled environment for too long, they blister up and I walk around in agony. I am a talking, occasionally walking posterboy for Dr. Scholl's.

I tried to explain to my boss that this policy most certainly didn't apply to me -- she wouldn't buy it, even though my well thought out argument was flawless, factual, and inarguable. It goes something like this:

Any shoe, regardless of make or model, when placed on MY feet, immediately ceases to be "athletic." Despite their best intentions, no pair of Air Jordans will ever cause me to "just do it" or "take it to the hoop." At best, I will take it to the couch. I could wander around in two-inch cleats and could still guarantee you that, shy of the building erupting in flame and me being forced to run for my survival, no athletics would be involved.

Strangely, I was still shot down. This has created an ugly quandry for me that I've had to deal with for years. See, there's an embarassing problem I've got that I seldom make public -- but what the heck, I've already admitted my underwear preference in this column, might as well let it all fly:

I can't tie my shoes.

Okay, wait -- that's a lie. I can tie my shoes just fine. It's just that, five minutes later, they tend to come UN-tied. I'm absolutely certain that it's not my fault. I'm not an idiot. I mean, two weeks ago I was enjoying a lecture on quantum physics. But neither quantum physics nor rhymes about bunnies hopping around trees has ever helped me keep a shoe tied longer than ten minutes. Maybe it's because I'm left-handed. Maybe I'm just so super awesome at tying shoes that the inferior laces can't cope with my master skill level and simply fall apart in defeat.

Regardless, for me to wear proper dress shoes at work, I have to find slip-ons that don't immediately slip-off. Usually I end up with something featuring hideous Velcro straps. I've survived the winter with some ugly slip-on clunkers made by Dr. Scholl's that are actually quite comfy. But now that the weather's getting good, I can pull out my secret weapons: Vans. The mutant offspring of a pair of Converse and some penny loafers, Vans are MY shoes. They're comfy, lace-free, most definitely NOT athletic, and even gained a begrudging work-appropriate nod from the powers that be.

I've always thought I had it rough when it came to shoes, but last Saturday, I learned just how naive I've been. That was the day I elected to go shoe shopping... with a girl. More on that next week. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Celestial Fundie said...

I am glad there is no dress code where I work.

I normally wear combat pants and flip flops.