Uniform

I’ve had my fair of jobs that required me to wear a uniform, starting with my very first official job at Burger King. I still remember the stiff and scratchy navy blue pants, the chunky black orthopedic sneakers, the visor that did nothing to keep all the grease out of my hair, and the polo. The heavy, ill-fitting polo shirt. Polo shirts that are three sizes too large seem to be the unifying factor of all jobs in my life that required a uniform. I don’t understand why uniform manufacturers seem to think the minimum weight for anyone in a job that requires a uniform is 150 pounds, but that seems to be about the weight that aligns with the smallest size polo available. Besides Burger King, these jobs also subjected me to this fashion crime.

  • Burger King
  • Apple Tree 6 Movie Theater
  • Darien Lake Theme Park
  • Perkins Restaurant
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Bedore Tours
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My only post-college job that required a uniform. Note the hideous, draping polo that cloaked me in unpleasant fabric in the 80 degree heat as I herded busloads of tourists around Niagara Falls in the summer. Note also my look of dissatisfaction.

I had a few other jobs that had attire guidelines but not official uniforms. Like jobs that said employees had to wear a white shirt, black pants, and black shoes, but within those guidelines we were allowed to buy whatever we liked. In Honduras at Atlantic Bilingual School, we teachers were required to wear white tops and gray bottoms, a fact no one told me until after I arrived. This left me scrambling to find some clothes in the local markets and I think I probably wore the same outfit for the whole first week I was there.

In Russia, no one would have thought twice about my failure to change my outfit. All my students in Volgograd wore the same clothes for a week straight. Clothes were expensive there, so that was the norm. Still, as an American, it was odd for me to see my 20-something year old female students who were very concerned about their appearance and very much into hairstyles and cosmetics wear the same sweater Monday through Friday, wear a different sweater the next week, and then switch back to the first sweater the third week. I never commented on this to them, of course, but that didn’t stop them from commenting on my and my roommate’s ugly American shoes. Russian women have an superhero-esque ability to walk down in four-inch heels down a sidewalk covered in a two-inch thick layer of ice. My roommate and I wore flats exclusively. I know, unbelievable, right? Not giving in to the very real possibility of a broken ankle for the sake of fashion?

Then, in my thirties I had a two year foray into the big-company office environment and experienced the magic of Casual Fridays. Woo-hoo! Kind of sad when being able to wear jeans to work once a week is a Really Big Deal. Still, business casual beats those horrible polos any day of the week.

And now I work from home four days a week, which means my uniform is sweatpants, yoga pants, or running shorts, depending on the temperature and whether my partner is home as well or travelling on business. When he’s gone, there are some days my outfit ventures into serious bag lady territory. But when I do go into the office on Wednesdays, I often dress up. I work with a bunch of guys whose uniform is a t-shirt and jeans but I like dressing up. It’s fun when no one forces you to. And other days when I’m feeling more casual, I wear a shirt with the company name and logo on it. But that’s only because it’s not a polo and it actually fits me quite nicely.

 

What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter U: Unicorn Bell. A nice site for writers with some great links, including this one to a descriptive thesaurus collection.

9 thoughts on “Uniform

    • Oh, brutal! You reminded me – I did something like that too. I gave ghost tours in Gettysburg for the one semester I went to the college there. But at least that was at night and I didn’t have to be in that heavy period clothing under the sun.

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  1. Your paragraph about Russia rings true for Mongolia as well. When I lived there it was strange to see people wearing the same outfit multiple days in a row but I realized that they cared for their clothes much better than Americans. Shoes were always shined, stray threads promptly cut, and hair was combed multiple times during the day. I guess it’s a different way of looking at appearances?

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  2. A Honduran I knew told me it was very offensive to Hondurans to see Americans walking around with dirty clothes, dreadlocks, no shoes, etc (you can picture the type of traveller he was talking about) because by Honduran standards, all Americans are wealthy and there’s no excuse for letting yourself look so sloppy and basically, in their eyes, pretending you are poor.

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  3. Fabulous post – it’s made me contemplate some of the very uncomfortable uniforms I’ve had to wear as a nurse over the years. Now I work in a job where I can choose, which is so much more relaxing. I’m very impressed that you managed to get into yoga pants when you worked from home – my attire was normally pyjamas.

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  4. Yas Jen! We all had our fair share from the less than ideal uniforms XD seems to be a generic trait that all mine were tacky too. Namely my school uniform and library staff one, never seemed to look like everyone elses! Haha love your description of the Russian women’s ability to walk in heels in snow =) enjoy the final day!

    Liked by 1 person

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