Let the bugles play! Spread rose petals on the ground! Clear your desks! Make a completely false representation of what it’s like to work here.
The CEO is visiting of course and if there’s one thing he doesn’t need to see when he visits, it’s the truth! The man at the top does not want to see the reality of what it’s like for all those below him.
Now, there wasn’t a memo that said to wear a tie on that day. So I didn’t. After all, we are an office that doesn’t require ties to be worn. However, everyone else seemed to get that memo. Suits, ties, tie pins, perhaps even clean underwear were being worn. Even some of the women in the office attempted at wearing make up although hopefully the CEO wouldn’t think it was war paint. Is that Sheila in accounts or Braveheart?
As I entered the office and started to climb the stairs to our floor, I noticed a colleague walk past in a full on suit. I thought he looked pretty sharp, must be due in court again that day but then more people passed me by looking very formal. Who was the CEO bringing with him? The Queen?
Maybe I’m wrong in my approach. I’m all for integrity and honesty. I really don’t like it when a false impression is given. I find it embarrassing. Is it not an admission that things aren’t all hunky dory? Besides, what’s wrong with seeing work on people’s desks? I don’t understand the whole facade.
But nonetheless, as I entered the office and saw more ties and suits among my male colleagues I felt a little bit of a sinking feeling. Why did it not occur to me to tart myself up? I should have done my hair, trimmed my ear hair and worn a tie. For as much as I like to stand my ground on my beliefs and although I did firmly believe that this show was a bit sad, I still didn’t like being the only one that stood out. I wasn’t wearing a tie and my ear comb-overs were quite unruly and untameable. It was the office equivalent of turning up to a posh restaurant in tracksuit bottoms and a string vest.
What would the big man think of this? He might look unfavourably on the office now. Might choose to close it down. People’s livelihoods could be at risk because I didn’t have the foresight to be someone else for a day, namely, a highly enthusiastic tie and suit wearing, claims professional.
Some men liked the novelty of wearing a suit to work rather than court and so decided to keep the jacket on whilst at their desks. I found this strange. Dressed as an entrant for The Apprentice and yet wearing a headset in a watered down call centre environment.
I considered fashioning a tie out of paper from the printer. Perhaps if I used letter headed paper and cut it out right, I could have our company logo featured on the tie. I would be seen by the CEO, he would take me to one side and say that this kind of commitment to the brand and creativity for fashioning an item of clothing out of paper is the kind of dynamic and original thinking that the company is desperate for and in that instant I am promoted, with a massive wage, a P.A to make my Caramel Macchiato coffees just how I like them, and a company helicopter with pilot, of course.
But no, I didn’t opt for the paper tie. For one, we had callers waiting to shout at us for not paying out on their claims and two, no one had any paper clips and it’s a logistical nightmare getting a shit biro let alone trying to get paper clips. I wasn’t in the mood to start getting all John McClane on the lady who sorts our stationary and I didn’t have two weeks to wait for the delivery.
I was going to have to be the lone wolf here. We were due to go to a presentation later that morning with a Q&A session. Oh well, if my shoddy tieless appearance results in the office closing, jobs being lost, families having homes repossessed, then I’m sorry and I completely understand anyone un-friending me on Facebook.
I entered the meeting room and took my seat. The seats were soon filled by women whose make up kit clearly included a trowel and a blowtorch; and men in varying degrees of suits. Some suits were usually for interviews, weddings and funerals, some suits the wearer had actually gotten married in. Most of the attendees wore large overly enthusiastic grins, looking to the front of the room as if they were trying to catch the eye of the CEO and get chosen for something. Looking as if to say, “Pick me! Pick me!” The large hand of destiny would point at them and say, “You are the chosen one!” and all because of their stupid painfully grinning, wide eyed gaze.
I wasn’t overly enthusiastic or overly smiley. I wasn’t negative either or miserable. I was here sitting to listen to a man. A man who is the big cheese in our company, but still, just a man. He’s not exactly Martin Luther King, The Dalai Lama, Ghandi, Steve Jobs or Ricki Lake. So why should I act in any other way than real?
The main man was stood at the front of the room, his back towards us whilst he was in some deep conversation with another man I didn’t recognise. And then he turned to face us and it was indeed a magnificent sight. In an instant I felt joy wash over me, and my face seemed to contort into something alien. What was this strange sensation? It was a smile.
You see my Grumpyans, before me stood the main man, the big daddy, the CEO of our company, without a tie. I was no longer alone.
I only tend to show my teeth when grimacing or growling at the neighbour’s evil B*stard of a cat (I hate him) or small children. But my face contorted even further. It was painful as muscles I hadn’t used in years started to contract and make this smile even wider. Many of my colleagues seemed to feel a little embarrassed.
This is because the first thing the main man said was, “I thought this is a no tie wearing office? You don’t normally wear ties here do you?”
A faint murmur of, “No,” whispered from the crowd. Some people were too afraid to speak and so they just shook their heads whilst maintaining their stupid, ‘Pick Me’ faces. “Why are you all wearing ties then?” He asked. No answer from the crowd. Just a few shifty looks from left to right as people didn’t know what to say. I sat there feeling as smug as Simon Cowell after checking his bank account.
“You don’t have to wear a tie on my account. By all means take them off if you like.”
I didn’t have to. I was always keeping it real. But I’ll say one thing, it’s easy to assume that the people so high above could be patronising, cold and unapproachable. But he was actually down to earth, friendly and came across like a bloody good bloke! Yes, I liked him.
How could I not? We were men of no ties! We wreaked of integrity and damn it, people will see the top of our chest hair!