Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh, shirt...

I own very few offensive t-shirts, no matter who's defining offensive. Most of my shirts are for places I've worked, vendors whose stuff I sold (and liked) at places I worked, in-state Alaskan airlines, and several military units. (Elmendorf Air Force Base hosts an airshow every two years, and all the support groups host the food and swag booths. So as you walk down the row, you get "Hey! Have a hot dog! Support the Paratroopers!" "Ignore him! Have a burger from our maintenance unit! They couldn't fly without us!" "Hey, they only work on airplanes! Get some cotton candy from the helicopter pilots! We're cooler!" And every single beer-and-brats unit morale fund has t-shirts available for sale. The Blue Angel's slick professional booth looks so out of place compared to the firefighters vs. the small marine group vs. the maintenance units vs. the AWACs crew and their sharpie-on-cardboard signs and cheerful rivalry. How could I not support the guys?)

In fact, other than the shirts I buy to help support Operation Migration (who got this year's flock of whooping cranes to Tennessee yesterday! Another year, another eight birds away from extinction!), I rarely buy t-shirts at all. So I rarely think about what I'm wearing to work beyond "short or long sleeve?"

This week, I was waiting for my boss to finish the meeting-after-the-meeting, so I could provide a quick update on some info I'd presented. One of the gaggle of higher-ups gestured at me as I was waiting a polite distance away, and said to several other layers of management, "And I absolutely love her t-shirt."

I quickly looked down to check what I had on, and tried to remain calm as several heads swung around to stare at my chest. "What is it?" Asked someone even higher up the food chain. It's a shirt Oleg gave me after I had a cooking mishap at his house, I thought.

"It's the front sight on an M16." The short-haired, ramrod-straight-spined manager responded, with a grin. "I've spent so much time looking through one of those..."

I looked at all the eyes looking from him to me, and responded to a raised eyebrow of inquiry. "I figured it's amusing to those who know what it is, and completely inoffensive to anyone else, because they won't be offended by what they can't recognize."

"Ah." The bossly heads nodded, and moved on.

And now I'm left wondering - do I wear a shirt that makes a manager upstream grin, or do I remove it for possible offensiveness? In reality, it's now in the dirty clothes bin, and will probably just end up back in the rotation, forgotten until that manager starts grinning when I'm presenting at another meeting.


  1. As a manager, you can trust me on this: I don't see how providing a grin to a manager can be anything but helpful. :)

  2. LOL, yep kudos for wearing it, and I think you probably made points with it... ;-)

  3. I just think it's cool you work in a place that allows you to wear a T-shirt with a design on it.
    That sort of thing is completely banned where I work.

    And I'm not even going to touch Old NFO's "made points with it" pun.
    I'm sure it was unintentional, but Holy Cow, I'm laughing my ass off right now...

  4. Msgt B - yeah, you have to watch Old NFO. He's as sneaky as an old gunny, or an old ...nfo....

    T-shirts are an excellent way of allowing the subordinates to proclaim their awareness and abilities - for example, a gentleman who wears an Obama-portrait t-shirt with rhinestones is proclaiming a lot about his critical thinking skills, and just how much awareness of consequences he has, and whether I should put him on a high-supervision or self-starter job.
    The one with a batman t-shirt will work well with the one wearing a marvin the martian t-shirt, while I probably shouldn't put the Dale Earnhardt t-shirt gal on a two-person team with the (insert dead rapper here) shirt, eh?

  5. Miss D. definitely has her good points. Indubitably.


  6. Wear it and be proud! Like you said, those who know won't care and those who don't won't object.

  7. If the manager is happy, I've found, everyone is happier. And your explanation for it was perfect.