Tattooed Women Need Not Apply
Tattoos have come a long way from the days of being seen on the skins of outlaw bikers, sailors, and criminals. These days everyone from high school kids, grandmothers, corporate executives and celebrities ink their bodies. Getting a tattoo has become trendy and fashionable. But for every person who proudly marks their body with colorful, permanent images, there are those who still frown upon them. The stigma related to having a tattoo remains and could be the difference between landing a job and being shown the door. It happened to a young woman I once interviewed.
Janie came in to meet with me one spring morning when my company was in need of a receptionist. Her resume was impressive and showed no spelling or grammatical errors, which usually put me off. Her past experience included being a receptionist for a veterinarian office. She sounded pleasant enough on the phone when I called to schedule our appointment. Nice speaking voice and polite. So far, so good, I thought.
The morning of her interview was warm and sunny but still required a light jacket. Janie was dressed in neat office attire topped by a nice denim jacket. I met her out front and led her to our conference room in back that doubled as a break room. We discussed the usual job interview topics. If she was nervous it didn’t show; she answered my questions easily. I liked her. But I needed her to meet my boss, the owner of the company. He was the deciding factor.
I had her wait while I went to get him. After making introductions, he sat quiet for a moment across from her and studied her resume. Then he began asking her the same routine questions.
“It says here you were a receptionist for a veterinarian office. Tell me about that.”
“I answered a multi line phone and made appointments. I transferred calls to the proper person and I took information and processed it into the computer,” Janie answered.
“Why did you leave?”
“I went back to school at nights and the hours weren’t flexible for me.”
“What are you studying?”
It was going very well. I felt certain this was a done deal and we had found our new receptionist. Then, the other shoe dropped.
“What does that tattoo on your right hand stand for?” asked my boss.
Janie looked down at her hand as if someone had pricked it with a pin and instinctively started covering it with the sleeve of her jacket. I looked over at her. I was stunned. I had not noticed her tattoo of three blue stars in the area of her index and thumb fingers. I think I was as embarrassed as she was.
“I got it when I was younger,” Janie started to explain. “It stands for omnipotence. I plan to get it removed when I have some more money.”
“The impulsiveness of youth,” my boss said in a smug manner. “At least you recognize you made an error in judgment and plan to rectify it.”
“Alright, well I have no other questions,” my boss said as he rose from his chair.
Then he thanked her for coming in and said we had other candidates still to see before a decision could be made. He left the room and I walked her out. I returned to his office already knowing his thoughts and decision regarding Janie.
“So,” he began. “What was your impression?”
“She definitely has the qualifications for the job,” I replied, hoping that would change his already made up mind.
“Yes, there’s no doubt about that. But, I don’t think we want that element here.”
I sat silent in the chair opposite from him as he continued.
“I don’t care much for people with tattoos, even though she regrets getting it and plans to have it removed.”
I stayed sitting and added nothing to the conversation. I could not believe I was hearing such discrimination in this day and age. He looked at me curiously.
“What are your thoughts on tattoos?” he asked.“Don’t ask and I won’t tell,” I replied. I looked down at my lap to where my own tattoo had been permanently inked a few weeks earlier.
“Let’s get back to finding a suitable candidate for the position,” he said.I nodded and went back to my desk where a pile of resumes lay on top.
This is a true story, except for the woman's name which wasn't Janie. In fact I can't remember her name and now it's going to drive me crazy. Maybe it was Julie. Then again I don't think it started with a "J" at all. Maybe it was a "D" name like, Diana. Or maybe it was Sara?