"working on my faults and cracks..."

11.19.2010

the DI gets new ink, attempts justifying it, fails miserably

While waiting in line for a clerk to take a number of my filings at the court earlier this week, I found myself behind a heavyset and bearded miscreant, paying some unspecified dues to society. An otherwise insignificant individual at a such a place where repercussions for poor life decisions (most commonly beginning with "meth," and ending with "jail") come to either a monetary or sentencing full circle. However, the biggest difference between his poor life decisions and those of the pregnant teenager in front of him, and the gang-banger getting enthusiastically frisked at the security station behind me, was his face - specifically how it was tattooed to the chubby hilt.

Classic side-effect of one who spends too much time turning ladles in a meth lab without proper safety precautions, the disease better known as "Oklahsamoan" (a lesser-known portmanteau of the words "Oklahoma" and "Samoan"), had taken great and terrible hold over this particular specimen, with its poorly executed tribal pattern leaking from his shirt collar, and spilling out over his scruffy visage like an epicly embarrassing, inky ejaculate. The difference between a calculated "art" of this caliber, and a hastily scrawled phallus-on-face performed with a sharpie and zero precision during the Theta Chi initiation kegger, is that the former was a conscious decision made while (hopefully) sober, and the latter won't last much longer than the hangover. Sure, even undeniably poor decisions of such mediocre quality, can always be removed through an extremely painful process, otherwise known as AN EXTREMELY PAINFUL PROCESS, and would most likely result in a horrible facial scarring, the likes of which would make even Darkman himself thankful he'd gotten off so lightly. Feel free to Google "Darkman," to better grasp the brevity of that amusing pop culture reference - I'm more than happy to wait here until you're properly educated, and have found it thoroughly amusing before I continue.

Good to go? Ok, so anyway, amongst a whole host of other observations, it got me thinking while the clerk filed my documents; are large, difficult-to-conceal tattoos a manifestation or a metaphor for one's poor decision-making prowess? Or are they rather the manifestation of one's complete lack of ambition? Are they perhaps both? Or are they neither? And from that, a classic "chicken or egg" conundrum was born;  which led to which? Did a lack of ambition begat a bad tattoo, or did a bad tattoo lead to a loss of opportunity, and subsequently, ambition as well?

Let's forget for a moment, an example as extreme as our Future Mugshots Hall 'o Famer above, and use instead a more ubiquitous example like sleeve tattoos (running the full breadth of subjective "taste"), and how they are most commonly referred to as "career killers." Riding a similar analogous train of thought, if a sleeve could be a "potential career killer," would it be safe to say that a facial tattoo was "career suicide?" Eh, just wondering - let's leave that one alone for now.

Anyway, so our chicken-and-egg analogy. With as much time as I spend blasting in and out of the court system (as a courier, not as a deviant), and being no stranger to seeing these hilariously festooned cave men finalizing divorces, dealing with evictions, and more generally, just taking a giant shit on a silver platter of my tax dollars, I'd be more prone to argue that tattoos are not career killers, but rather poor life choices, lack of ambition, and an otherwise generally unsavory personality are career killers. Oh, and so is drug addiction. Contrary to what MGMT may glorify, shooting heroin does not lead to lavish trips to Paris and/or "fucking with the stars." It leads to illegitimate children, court, jail, and then to bad tattoos. The trailer park's circle of life. But then what? Thus begs the question; are you working graveyard drive-up window shifts at Wendy's because no one will hire a "progressive thinking individual with a high-concept Boba Fett shoulder-to-wrist piece," or is it because no one will hire "that tattooed cretin who insists on wearing sleeveless t-shirts at his job interviews?" Tattoos aren't career killers, but not having"buttons" and "sleeves" or "common sense" and "ambition" just might be. Yeah, I know it's a flawed comparison because they don't sell common sense or ambition at JC Penny's, sue me.

I'm sure it's easy to blame employment failure on discrimination against one's life decision (re: a tattoo), but slightly more difficult to admit employment failure on failing to get an education, failing to look for a good job, or simply failing to prepare yourself for an interview by looking presentable, and vesting oneself in the position. Is appearance so paramount that job performance would go entirely overlooked, when taking into account one's own marketability as a tattoo-wearer? Once hired, would you get canned for having a sleeve tattoo, or will you get fired for not following dress code at the law firm you were interning at?

Whether I've established anything even remotely resembling a "point" to all this, I'm brought back to that moment, standing in line, watching this character stand uncomfortably, awaiting his turn to make penance. His tattoo was a bad choice - a very bad choice. But he was standing in court for different reasons - probably culmination of other equally bad choices, unrelated to the tattoo. Here's the part where I'm expected to draw some kind of conclusion, but I think I'll just write a sentence instead:

I think large, sexy tattoos and a respective career to match, may happily coexist, hand-in-hand. But idiots and careers? Until "experienced pharmaceutical methamphetamine laboratory technician" becomes the next high-demand job in our distant and possibly dystopian future, the chances aren't looking so hot.

 
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