Thursday, May 25, 2006

No Respecter of Men

My boss has formalized the working philosophy of her place of business as, "Here, we are all about Southern Hospitality." I get that. My job as I have characterized it is, in the worst case scenario, to take whatever the other person feels is a problem and fix it; in the best case scenario it is to anticipate any want or need and meet it before the guest is even fully aware of it.

This is the spirit of service. And I believe I am good at it. Competent at the technical parts of the job and good at working as a team member part of the job and maybe even really good at the service part of the job, at smiling and nodding and making like I'm interested and care. Well, actually, lot of guests really are interesting so I'm not always faking it which helps. A lot. In fact, it is kind of fun. It isn't stressful. It isn't hard. It is a real enough thing.

Yesterday I met my boss's boss. It is my deep, disturbing impression that what he wants, from everyone, is subservience. Like slavery subservience. Like Mahatma Gandhi wore his diaper against kind of subservience.

Boss's boss is British which I do find to be a culture wholly lacking in grace and hospitality and stinking with classist structure. Of course, it may just be that he is the perfect corporate drone, sunk into the corporate classist structure and thinking that everyone else is, or should be, too.

But I stink of independence.

Wonder what will come of this.

Ok, but here is the funny and rather telling detail that has struck me and stuck with me. He doesn't think plain black sweaters look good enough. He prefers ugly, shiny polyester. He thinks that is "professional". Bullshit. That is subservient livery. The more I think about having to wear that, the more I think of it as a French Maid costume. Something to prove that subservience. Everyday.

A home woven diaper looks better than that.

22 comments:

madcapmum said...

With my husband's construction job, that manifests as having to shave. Doesn't matter if it's a green plant that isn't operational yet, they "have to be able to wear a gas mask", therefore they have to be clean-shaven. I'm sure it has nothing to do with throwbacks to the 19th century rule for clergymen and domestic servants. Nothing.

Eleutheros said...

The mark of a FreeMan is, and has always been, long hair and flowing beard. The reason is simple, if a slave wanted to impersonate a free man, he'd have to grow his beard, which would take months. If it were the other way around, all he'd have to do is shave.

I worked for a state School for the Deaf for three years and the superintendent was a staunch Southern Baptist that held that anything but a crewcut and clean shaven was the mark of a Satanist, so he instituted the rule that all men had to be clean shaven under the pretext that beards interfered with speech reading ("reading lips"). Thing is, the school operated entirely on manual communications. I'd have made more sense to shave our hands!

Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Leviticus 19,27

madcapmum said...

When I married this man of mine, he had a beard, not as voluptuous as that one of yours, but one that a gal could bury her hands in. That's one of the "carrots" leading us away from this place - he's going to throw away the razor.

the Contrary Goddess said...

MadCap, until now I have not felt any part of this job took away any piece of myself. But now I'm not so sure. If they wanted me to wear make-up, I would never do another shift. Because I don't wear make-up. Although I do occassionally paint my toenails hussy red.

And I don't shave my pits or my legs. And really, I do not wear polyester. It stinks.

I'm thinking maybe I can dress it up with cowboy boots and a bolero tie and make enough fun of it to not lose pieces of myself to it, but I'm not sure. Not at all sure.

Did I mention they added security cameras so boss's boss (who we will derogatorily refer to as Mr. Bill, as in the Saturday Night Live character) can look in on us at any time? I *like* the security aspect of the cameras, but not his voyeuristic pleasures.

So does Chive feel the chipping away of himself every time he shaves?

And people think Abe Lincoln ended slavery. Ha!

H. Stallard said...

I've worn a mustache for as long as I've been able to grow facial hair. I had a goatee for several years because that was the only place my beard really grows well. I prefer clean shaven because I can't get used to the constant itch of a beard. I keep my hair cut short so it can't be used as a handle against me in a fight like I've used others hair against them when I have had to fight them. Besides I like the way it feels when I rub my hand over it.

By the way MCM a gas mask won't seal correctly if there is facial hair under it. It really is a safety thing.

When I first started teaching, I did the polyester pants thing with a tie. After several years at one of our infamous county wide teachers' meeting our then head honcho told us that we shouldn't wear bluejeans to teach in because it wasn't professional and besides "He didn't like them". For the last 30+ years that's all I wore when teaching.

madcapmum said...

Well, I asked Chive, and he says he's looking forward to having a beard again, but he doesn't feel like he's chipping away at himself. He feels like he's taking their s*** and their money until he's got enough to get the hell away for good.

I realize that on a live plant there's good reason for being clean-shaven, but there have been times when he was building the facility, so nothing was operating or volatile, and they still insisted on everyone being clean-shaven. He did point out tonight that everyone has to be face-bald though, from top to bottom, not just the guys in coveralls.

Deb said...

I quit wearing my uniform at work long before they declared uniforms "optional" for my work class. Green polyester pants and tan polyester button-up shirts just aren't me, and there's no reason I have to look like a game warden to do my job.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Harold, let me see. Last time I was in a fight was . . . hmmmm . . . counting . . . NEVER. And *if* I were to get in one, I wouldn't be attempting to subdue the person but to kill them.

And you know I love ya, and I have been in such awe of your ginseng and goldenseal and morrel stuff, but geez, your spare tire is way more of a handicap in a physical confrontation than hair would be.

Eleutheros said...

It is true that gas and dusts masks do NOT work over a beard. I'd be in a position to know that. I work around fine sawdust and no form of mask (except the forced exhaust helmet type) was of any use. So what was I to do? Give up woodworking or shave off my King of the Forest mane?

A bit of reflection told me that the problem wasn't my the way God made me, nor was it the 'right livelihood' of woodworking. It was making my work the step-child of the industrial age. So I got some dozuki saws, got rid of the power sanders, and instead began using planes, drawknives, spokeshaves, and scrapers. No dust.

I have no intention of ever raising my hand to another human being, much less hire myself out as a junkyark dog and brawl with drunks and druggies. If ever I was provoked into personal combat, I would be stone cold sober and woe be to anyone who grabs for my mane. It would be just enough hiatus for me to send them to be with their ancestors which decades of hard physical labor would enable me to do.

It's the way of free men.

Laura said...

I sometimes wonder if my rather casual attire offends anyone who is sitting in the pews watching my backside sway through the hymns up at the organ. More so in the summer when it gets too warm to hide under a choir gown. (Garth has suggested I could go early and get under that gown with some strappy sandals and not much else, and no-one would be the wiser.) ANYway, I don't give it any worry, because I've noticed that the folks I appreciate most (for their friendly open faces and their willing hands) tend to show up to church in the most comfortable clothes.

H. Stallard said...

Eleutherous once said in a comment on someone's blog (I can't remember who right now) that if something is worth doing it's worth doing for free.

Just for everyone's information...I am an "Auxiliary" Police Officer, that means I am a VOLUNTEER. I am not hired out as a junkyard dog and I don't get paid to brawl with drunks and druggies. I am not issued any equipment except for my badge and ONE uniform. Everything else comes out of my pocket. The only time I have been paid was by the SCHOOL for working a wrestling match and 4 ballgames. I do the police work because I enjoy it. I get a good rush out of taking a drunk off the road and putting them in jail.

Eleutheros said...

Ah, Harold, you're a fine fellow, and no mistake, everyone says so.

But in essence and function all police are junkyard dogs.

To wit:

I wouldn't consider stealing any salvaged auto parts so there is really no reason for me to have any interaction with a junkyard dog, although the dog may neither understand nor appreciate this.

The dog is there for a purpose, I understand that purpose, don't disagree with it, wish him godspeed.

I know the junkyard dog's capabilities and authority and I act accordingly. He is not my friend, out to do me any good. I won't provoke him, annoy him, and in general have as little to do with him as possiible.

Ditto the police.

Now if a stray cat has the misfortune to wander into the junkyard, the dog can get his jollies as he sees fit.

And I doubt they pay him either, in cash anyway.

the Contrary Goddess said...

you boys, BEHAVE!

Have a piece of pie or something.

H. Stallard said...

No thanks, would rather have a couple slices of pizza and make my pie lemon and we are behaving!

madcapmum said...

So Harold, when you say, "No thanks", soes that mean "Hand it over" in South-speak? Oh, what a polite bunch you are, to be sure!

Eleutheros said...

That's right, this is what behaving looks like.

"No thanks" in Southern doesn't mean 'hand it over', it means "it's your turn now, are you polite?"

Lemon pie would be fine. But I wouldn't say no to chocolate pie, or pecan.

the Contrary Goddess said...

If you aren't polite in Southern culture, mostly we'll just try to ignore you. We'd rather deal only with other polite folk.

I'm sure you've noticed that on the blogs! hahahaha!

I'm thinking butterscotch pie boys. Or as my friend Ms. Pat calls it, Burnt Sugar Pie.

H. Stallard said...

Just want everyone to know that after having broken bread and taken salt at Eleutheros's table, I consider it a unique privilege to be counted as one of his friends. Meaning that if I showed up on his doorstep unannounced tonight, he would yell, "Who is it and what the h*ll do you want?" and would give me a running headstart before throwing a load of buckshot my way.

Eleutheros said...

And I'd shoot left handed just to make it sportin'.

clairesgarden said...

I think you are all showing your affection for each other by being insulting and gettin insulted back, then do you all eat pie together?
CG, a job is a job and sometimes has to be 'left at work' while you go home to be you. it took me a long time to learn to do that and I'm not always a hundred percent succesful with it. and the uniform saves me having to buy anything to wear out on their time.

the Contrary Goddess said...

we don't bother to insult anyone we don't like. Or who we deem not worth it.

But I have to disagree that "a job is a job". We are responsible for what we choose to do (and not do).

I told my boss, the one I really truly do like a LOT, that I would be at that job as long as I was amused by it. We'll see.

I don't HAVE to have a job, see. And it isn't because we're rich or anything but because we don't consume much. And we could do without that.

Slavery affects everything, maybe even especially wage slavery.

Culture (or lack thereof) affects everything too.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Decoration Day update -- got the uniforms and yes, they are livery but they aren't so bad as I imagined. The shirts are not shiny and the pants have pockets. I can live with it. I do rather enjoy myself, and I may have to try to figure out why Mr. Bill's visit stressed me out so. anyhooo