Where I write

Where I write

July 1, 2011

Ugly Brown Shirt

This is the shirt I'm required to wear at my job as a server. It is, as you can see, long-sleeved, dark-colored,  masculine looking and ugly. I would never in a million, trillion, possibly billion, years wear a shirt such as this if it wasn't part of my uniform. This heavy, uncomfortable shirt is matched with a pair of black polyester pants and, of course, the long dreadful black apron. Flattering and comfortable, fun,  was not the look the management was hoping for when they selected our uniforms and those in authority succeed in making us all look as if we should be working at a collection agency hounding people to pay credit card bills. 

Making the uniform particularly uncomfortable is the tight sleeves and the fact that my buttons never close properly. Myself, and some other of the female servers, have had to use safety pins to keep our buttons from popping and revealing more than just our name tags. More than once I've walked away from a table and realized my bra had been showing. No one seems to care at the table which is a whole other subject for a later blog on aging.

The shirt is particularly uncomfortable now that temperatures have rising outside to more than 100 degrees with the kitchen often even hotter. A friend asked me recently, in a truly perplexed tone of voice, "doesn't management want you to be comfortable?" One look at this shirt gives you the answer. I thought maybe wearing tight, heavy clothes while carrying trays and working near big ovens might help me sweat off the pounds but no such luck yet.

I have had many dreadful uniforms throughout my server career. At a Mexican restaurant I wore a orange and white striped dress with puffed sleeves. I looked as if I should be in the cast of Sound of Music. One restaurant owner required us to wear starched white shirts and white aprons to serve pizzas and sloppy burgers. I itched at that job a lot. Like most every server in the world, I've had to wear tons of black and white and now when I wear black and white in my personal life I have to resist wanting to pick up a tray or bus a table. In my long-term waitress experience, I've found the person who selects the uniform is usually the manager who comes to work wearing a short sleeved blouse, pretty dress, or loose-fitting, light shirt and cotton pants.  That's okay. I believe in karma.

Now here's a uniform that made me think that maybe I don't have it so bad, after all. The boots look sexy, but painful, the belt would cinch my waist and I think she's wearing, gasp, panty hose!  However, she does look as if she's having a good time and she probably goes dancing after work because those boots look as if they are made for walking. So I guess I'll be grateful for my ugly brown shirt, at least it  doesn't show the stains. And recently I was talking to a woman who was in Kenya and told me they don't even have toothbrushes there so, really, what do I have to complain about in my easy life.
My writer friend, Rita, always poses a question at the end of her blog so I'm going to copy her and ask, What was the ugliest uniform you ever had to wear at a job?


Anonymous said...

Okay. I wrote a long comment and lost it in the blogger world. I sure wish somebody would figure this out. Anyway, I had an all white uniform at the nursing home in college, a brown tunic at the Taco Bell when I wanted to earn a little extra money for a horse, I think it was all white in the nursery school too. I can't remember at the restaurant my last year of college. Since that girl up there is stuck in the '70s I don't think you have to worry about boots but it is true that those who choose these uniforms don't have to wear them. But just think, that brown shirt lets your sunny personality shine right through.

Pam said...

I've never had to wear a uniform when I worked. I just had to look nice.

Pam D.

Stella said...

The shirt is ugly, it's true. If (when) you leave that job you should do a ritual burning of it along with the black polyester pants.

I've never had to wear a uniform for work, but costumes upon occasion and high heels when I haven't wanted to. I'm glad my new job lets me wear jeans and t-shirts a lot. Whew. And while I'm feeling comfortable in my easy life I'll try to remember those who have to live without toothbrushes, and clean water or air. We do have a blessed existence after all.

Expostulator said...

You are determined to get me into trouble aren't you. I am going to try and restrain myself, but it is a struggle.

Anonymous said...

As always, you have me laughing! :-)

I've held a lot of jobs in retail and almost every one had me wearing a polo shirt with the company logo. That wouldn't be so bad if they actually gave me the right size. I was always stuck with a shirt that was way too big and made me look 20 lbs heavier. At my last retail job, I stopped wearing the company shirt after I earned enough good favor with the boss. She never said a thing when I started coming to work in a nice pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Hmmmm . . . come to think of it that's how I still go to work in my current profession. Ha ha!

SunsetCindi said...

ok, I'm trying again. I've been lucky that most of my uniforms have been the white dress and black apron, shorter the better for the Greek owners. At Dunkin Donuts we wore pink dresses with flowered aprons and I looked like a donut after months of consuming buckets of the luscious white cream filling, yummmm. At the 'Hot Spot', I wore white hotpants with a blue tunic, matching the ocean that we were the backdrop for. Your shirt may be ugly but no one notices cause your sparkle is all they see.

Anonymous said...

MY ugliest and most uncomfortable uniform ever was a 1960's polyester shirt dress with self-belt. It was white. It was semi-transparent, it was styled for a grandmother and I was 19 years old. this type of polyester was unbreathable. I think it was as water-resistant as saran wrap. The hospital wing that I worked in was NOT air conditioned. In winter it was over-heated for the patients' comfort. So then went to nursing school and as soon as I could after graduation, I worked in the Operating Room where I had to wear very comfortable all cotton green pajamas. in 1971 no one else wore these "scrubs". you never saw anyone on the street in this pajama type garb. but today? everyone within a mile of a hospital walks around in these outfits. this, I believe, is a testament to how comfortable they are. Barbara

Kirsten said...

At the House of Pies we donned heavy nylon zip front dresses. Short sleeves, pockets, sherbet orange w/ white collars, sleeves, and vertical stripes on either side of the zipper. Pantyhose, of course. I found a pair of nylon undershorts that matched the dress, thus providing comic relief for myself and co-workers. Not long after that, at Poppin' Fresh Pies, we had the same dress (must be a pie thing), only in maroon and white. Much better combo, but alas, no matching shorts to be had. And don't forget the mandatory white ribbon in your hair-management had a big spool of it for those who forgot. It was in these stunning outfits that Julie & I met.

Anonymous said...

I love this post, I'm still laughing! Thanks for sharing this.
The worst uniform I had to wear was a leotard with legwarmers and...ready? PUMPS. Certainly the ideal choice of shoes for an aerobic instructor at Chicago Health Club in the 80's. Oh my...