I’ve always been a jeans and casual shirt kind of guy. I seldom get dressed up, even for work. Apparently, that’s about to change.
Recently, my employer put out an updated policy manual. Most of it was simply rehashed, and sometimes reworded, things that had “always been”. Some of it was new. One new part was the dress code. In the number 1 dairy county in the United States, and the number 2 agriculture county, denim jeans are no longer acceptable wear. Even though we work in the basement of the Sheriff’s Office/Jail, and are not visible to the public, the kind of clothing I’ve been wearing for all of my 17 and 5/6ths years of employment here is suddenly not acceptable.
Well, not “suddenly”. Just “kind of suddenly”. The manual came out either late last year, or early this year, I don’t recall precisely. We were all required to electronically “sign” that we had read a copy of the manual. (I had a bit of a problem with this, as we were required to click off that we had read the policy, BEFORE the computer would allow us to actually read it! Sometimes government logic is best not studied too deeply.)
We were supposed to comply with the “new” regulations at that time. Needless to say, few did. In our defense, however, the policy was not enforced until yesterday.
Recently, somebody elsewhere in the department wore something they should have known would not pass muster, even under very relaxed attitudes. When they were called on it, they immediately responded with “but dispatch can wear jeans!”
That’s when the shit hit the fan.
The law came down from above, and the sledgehammer fell.
Even though we are in a secure part of the building, never seen by the public (or most of the administration, as they almost never come into dispatch unless something has gone wrong), now we have to dress as if we are bank tellers or City Council members. Since one or two people in public view don’t seem to understand that the window in their office is two-way, the rest of us have to put on our monkey suits.
Well, it’s certainly a topic of discussion in dispatch! We work ten hour shifts, mostly sitting down at cubicle workstations, and comfort is (one would think) a reasonable requirement for working in a high-stress, detail-intensive environment. Apparently not so much. As detailed as the “new” rules are, there are still plenty of questions about what is allowed, and there are going to be flaps about what was OK for someone, but not for someone else.
In the meantime, while this important issue is given the attention it “deserves”, other, minor issues, are still to be resolved. Like why the electrical circuits can’t handle reasonable amperage loads, and pop the breakers rather often. Like why a work station has been down and unrepaired for over a year. Like why cabling has not been properly installed at each workstation, resulting in a spaghetti mess at our feet.
“Good enough for government work” is the phrase that comes most readily to mind. It’s greatly annoying, for someone as long-legged as me, to have to be constantly aware of my feet, lest I accidentally get tangled in this mess and end up pulling something apart.
But, by golly, I suppose from now on I’ll be all pretty as I sit in the basement! It also means I have to go shopping. Being a jeans kind of guy also means I don’t really have any dress clothing. Certainly not 40 hours a week’s worth.
The real pain about shopping is that almost nobody (except the western wear store) carries pants in my size. If you’re short and fat, you can find all kinds of pants, all over the place. If you’re tall and fat, same thing. If you have the nerve to be tall and skinny, however, you’re pretty much out of luck. Your choices are the western wear stores, the Internet, or high-end men’s stores who will gladly sell you a $500 suit, and tailor it for you.
On top of the hassle of shopping for tall and skinny, I didn’t get the fashion gene. Trying to put together something that will be comfortable, and meet guidelines, and be affordable, is going to be a challenge. I’m afraid to ask for help from my gay buddies. I really don’t want to look like I’m an in-denial old man trying to look like a twink! I need to find a gay guy my age that DOES have the gene, and see if he can help me out. I just hope my wallet can stand the strain. The department isn’t kicking in with any uniform allowance, since they aren’t requiring any uniforms. The joys of government work.
So we’ve killed the gnat, with our handy-dandy, government issued sledgehammer, and now can move on to other important issues. Like… well, never mind. That would probably get me into hot water. I’ve probably already turned the heat up with this little missive.
The sane response part of this whole thing? Actually, I’m not sure. I’ll have to get back to you on that.