June 23rd, 2007


You must me THIS TALL to smoke the Marlboro.

As most of you know, I'm a part-time smoker. Or a full-time smoker, if something in my life (usually work) is giving me a ridiculously high level of stress. I picked up the smoking habit my first or second year in college (I don't remember which) as a natural compliment to the amount of caffeine I was drinking and the need to get a break or two during the day. It was also a means of maintaining some sort of social contact -- the office I worked in at the school isolated me from the rest of the department and pretty much anything that didn't accept ~110 volts at 12 amps. Going downstairs to the Computer Lab to grab my buddy M.C. for a smoke was a great way to maintain some human contact.

So, back to the point. I smoke. I know some folks who also smoke, or smoke part-time the same way I do. I also know lots of people who dislike or actively hate smokers because they hate the smoke or the smell of smoke that usually comes with them. Fair enough and I go out of my way to give them their space. So long as they don't hassle me I have no problem with their standpoint. However, I know a very few folks who hate smokers because so many of them are goddamn litterbugs (I personally am surprised at how few fall into this class compared to people who just don't care for the smoke). You know how there's always fifteen or twenty cigarette butts laying on the ground outside any given office door? Ever notice how they're always thrown on the ground even if the building management has been polite enough to set out an ash can or a "Cease Fire" bucket? Yeah, those smokers. I hate them too, honestly. I don't throw my cigarette butts out the window of the Expedition if I'm driving and I don't just drop them on the ground outside a building when a receptacle is available (I roll the cherry out to make certain I do not set the trash bin aflame). I try to be courteous to non-smokers around me and, by extension, I try to be courteous to the environment people live and work in. I don't think that a vast prairie of flattened, stepped-upon cigarette filters is either of those things. It's particularly maddening to me because I don't see any reason for it. If there's an ash can and you're standing three feet away from it you can damn well toss your filter into there when you're done. Yet for whatever reason the culture in this country says it's okay to be lazy and throw the filter on the ground, sooner or later it'll get cleaned up or blown/washed away by some force or another. That force might be the building's janitorial staff, or a local eco-club, or just a heavy rain. If I had to put it into words I would say the attitude is one of Hey, whatever! I can't be bothered.

So now that I've explained my position on these things, let's rewind to Thursday of this week.
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I still am not a team player (Or "No, I won't partake in your bullshit facade" revisited)

Yesterday was Jeans Day at $EMPLOYER. But wait, Feren! I hear you say. I thought jeans were verboten at your place of employment! You're right, they are -- usually. Sometimes the ban upon All Things Denim is lifted as a "reward" for us low-level employees, as if a singular day of comfort and style somehow makes up for all the other indignities we suffer. In the case of the 22nd, it was to mark the anniversary of $SUBDIVISION's founding. So at the beginning of the week a memo went out inviting all employees to wear jeans on Friday, "in celebration."

Being the perverse, contrary and generally assholish individual that I am, I naturally chose to go against the grain. I opted to wear one of my suits to work instead instead of the day's "relaxed" code of jeans and polo shirt. The fabric was black with dark pinstripes and I trimmed that out with black shoes (of course), black belt (naturally), a black shirt, a black tie with red, yellow and blue blotches (I joked that the tie looked like a macaw had exploded on it), my sunglasses and my favorite hat (The hat had to come off while I was at my desk, otherwise I wore it most of the day). I received a lot of the expected "Hey, I hope your interview goes well!" commentary, along with the various permutations thereof like "Hey, have you got an interview today?" Only one or two people stopped and asked me "So... what's going on with the suit?"

Regardless of what phrase was used during the opening dialog my answer was always the same. "I'm wearing a suit because today is Jeans Day," I'd tell them, which would net a quizzical look in response. So I'd elaborate on my explanation by adding, "Every day could be Jeans Day, if management wanted it to be. I'm a senior engineer at the corporate office, I don't see our target customers -- ever -- and rarely do I interact with vendors. The same goes for you. There's no reason we need to wear slacks day in and day out. So, this is my political commentary in response to our supposed reward."

Yes, I am well aware that wearing a suit on jeans day is not terribly clever and that doing so is a far cry from anything remotely approaching subversive. Still, as I was growing up, I was told repeatedly that it's the little things in life that count. So hey, if by doing this little thing I can separate myself from the herd for a brief while and, at the same time, thumb my nose at a worthless policy? I might as well make the effort.

Heidi, when a man buys a couch... he loses a ball.
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