Tears of a Clown

During a hiking trip through Utah a few years ago, my friends and I went to a diner for lunch. I was hemming and hawing over the pancake options when our waiter arrived at the table. He was just your average server—tall, brown hair, three teardrops tattooed under his right eye.

You know, the usual.

Deeply distressed that the same man who put three people in the ground would also be delivering my food, I decided against any special requests. Of course I wanted half blueberry pancakes, half chocolate chip, but at what cost? I had a lot of years left to live and I didn’t want anyone shedding—or tattooing—any tears over me.  

But I know you’re all probably saying to yourselves, “Hold up, Lauren—the days of tattoos and piercings being associated with criminals are a thing of the past.”

I get it—and although our waiter most definitely killed three individuals (and provided excellent customer service, it must be known), that doesn’t mean every tattoo is bad news. I, myself, got a henna tattoo of the Pillsbury Doughboy on my left bicep during Senior Week in high school. Does that make me a miscreant? I think not. 

However, when it comes to determining what’s professional and work-appropriate, some managers still struggle with policies on body art. (The owner of the Utah diner clearly had what one would call a “liberal” stance on such issues.)

A recent Forum in the Independent Rental Owners Community on NAA Connect illustrates this point, with several owners and managers discussing their company policies and the challenges they face in keeping everyone happy. 

While some people posted that all tattoos must be covered during work hours, others say tattoos are handled on a case-by-case basis determined by the context. If, for instance, you’ve nominated one your employees to dress up as a sad clown for a children’s event, teardrops are just par for the costume, no?

Some policies also include guidelines that limit piercings to women’s earlobes only and others include limits on the size of jewelry and number of “philanthropic” bracelets. 

For one question posted, however, there seems to be no easy answer: “For those of you that have discretion regarding the size and nature of tattoos, do you ever run into problems with the discretion being inconsistently applied as management staff turns over or at different worksites?”

If you have an answer to that question or an anecdote to share, head over to the discussion and join the conversation at http://bit.ly/17kcFj4. 

And if you head over to Moab, Utah, order the buckwheat flapjacks and give Joe my best. Just don’t give him my address.

For more, check out Social Media Insider in the October issue of units Magazine, which mails today.