NOSE-PIERCINGS, EMPLOYER DRESS CODE, & THE ETIQUETTE OF WAKING UP EARLIER THAN YOUR SPOUSE

Lost a nose-piercing on the dog walk. Pretty sure. Blew my nose into woolen glove. Noticed a minute later. That’s why captive bead hoops are superior to studs—don’t fall out when you blow your nose. Luckily I had a spare in my jewelry box at the house. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn up. I'd love that kind of surprise.

I altered my double-nostril piercing situation last year at the ultimatum of my employer. The lady who hired me said no facial piercings. On the inside, I rolled my eyes and said WTF come on. On the outside, I nodded and said okay. Because I wanted the job and didn’t think objections would be successful. So I transitioned from four captive-bead hoops, which can’t be taken out on a daily basis, to L-shaped studs, which can easily be removed.

Each day before class, I’d pinch out the piercings and place them in a smidget 1oz Tupperware container. After class, they’d go back in my nose. At first, finding the hole and pushing the metal through was difficult. Fingers sloppy, imprecise. After two weeks, I could remove the metal while walking upstairs to the second floor. After a month, I took note of when the lady who hired me was around, or likely to be around, and wore the piercings to class during days of low-probability rendezvous. If she happened to see me, and notice, and say something, I planned to claim ignorance. Like: “Oh shoot, I totally must have forgotten. I’m so sorry.” Everybody’s allowed one slip up.

One time she came into the classroom as I was trying to fix the sound system beneath the teacher’s podium. I was crouched down with my head in the cabinet. I heard her voice, then looked, said hello, and then told her “just one second” as I finished fixing the audio. Head in the cabinet, I pulled the 1oz smidget from my khaki pants pocket and emerged a piercing-complying member of the adjunct teaching faculty.

The close call didn’t chill my rule rebellion. In fact, it encouraged it. My philosophy was—and still is— that I get one strike for free. I can reasonably “forget” to remove my piercings once without any negative consequences—reputationally or otherwise.

This year, I brazenly wear the removable L-bracket studs everyday to class. Plus a fat 16 gauge septum ring—the kind commonly caricatured on bulls. A few weeks ago, the hiring agent who implemented the no piercing rule messaged me ten minutes before my class and said she needed to speak with me. Armpits hot with nervous sweat, I removed the bullring but left the studs. She didn’t say anything about the nose piercings, not during or after or face-to-face meeting.

Is this a green light?

I don't know. But I know I’m mourning the loss of that L-shape stud. I checked the side of the bed I sleep on. I checked the dish towel that I blew my nose in—don’t tell Kate. (I mean I put in the laundry basket after. I couldn’t get to the bathroom where the tissues are because she and the baby sleep while I write, so I close the bedroom door, because me making bulletproof coffee sometimes creates noise, so I just figured the dish towel hanging from the stove would suffice. Anyway, I checked the dish towel and there was no piercing.) I checked my gloves, my sweatshirt, the floor around the bathroom sink where I wash my face immediately after waking up. Nothing. I’ve lost L-brackets before, but always found them within a few hours. But today I blew my nose into my glove outside, and I think the wool snagged the metal and pulled it out. If you live by me and you see it, and find it, I’ll give you a hug.

This is why I think it’s time to switch back to irremovable captive bead hoops. Easier for active-turning-sleepers like myself. Easier for swimming. Easier for sex. Easier for nose-blowing. Admittedly, irremovable hoops do up the ante on the employment front, but so be it.

If objections flare in the employment arena, I'll say something casually. Like: hey I know you may have this policy, and I respect the idea of professional attire but times are changing and I hardly think students notice or care, or that it detracts from learning. In fact I think it probably only enhances my appeal as a teacher, so can we just let it slide? If that doesn’t work, there’s other rhetorical strategies. I haven’t really used my law school education for much thus far. I could play that knowledge card. Like yeah I understand y’all have this rule but how is this employment dress code reasonably tailored to legitimate educational interests?

But based on past performance, I don’t think it’s going to go that far.

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