I work at one of those places where we have to wear employer-provided polo shirts displaying the corporate logo and color. This is a defensible idea in theory – hey, free clothing (even if you’d never wear it anywhere else) – but… well, I’ll get into that later.
Anyway, a batch of replacement shirts came in late last month, and I got one. Again, regularly scheduled replacement shirts are a theoretically defensible idea – I used to have a neighbor who wore his uniform polo around the house, and it was in bad enough shape that I didn’t dare eat at his restaurant – but it gave corporate a chance to tweak the shirt design.
- The new shirt was slightly too long, despite being allegedly the same size as the ones I had.
- Its color was slightly brighter, more plasticky.
- The collar was slightly oversized.
I was slightly displeased.
In practice, work uniforms are sometimes used to grind workers down into servility and to let everyone else know who they’re allowed (or encouraged) to sneer at, and I’m getting a whiff of that here. The combined effect of those little style changes is to make the worker inside the shirt look smaller and more ridiculous. The combination of the oversized collar and the nametag lanyard I’m leashed with is particularly egregious.
My initial reactions were as follows:
- “If course they’re trying to manipulate me. It’s entirely in character for them.”
- “They’re not clever enough to pull something like that.”
- “They’ve been copying management and marketing ideas from other corporations lately, so it isn’t like they had to think of it.”
Oh, and like the older shirts, it has a tagless label, but instead of the manufacturer’s logo, it has an insipid slogan encouraging what a middle manager would probably call “the service spirit,” in case anyone was wondering why I went Cynic Level Orange immediately.