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November 22, 2021

Subversive Fun: Defying The “Be Like Me” Narcissists

A few years ago, Ace wrote a piece about narcissistic lefties and their “Why can’t you be more like me” intolerance. (Remember - don’t comment on old threads.) That post hit a nerve with me, as it was published not too long after I left the employment of a blue-city startup company run by “be like me” narcissists.

The young company was struggling, and I was recruited and hired in a finance capacity to try to help turn it around. (It ultimately went out of business. Shocker.) Of course, the President and the CEO were hopelessly distracted by every idiotic new-age management gimmick, and the employees wasted most of their time on peer coaching, team building games, accountability training, breakthrough communication, goal setting, etc. (My goals included “Embrace the Uncomfortable” and “Kickassery.”)

The CEO and the President wore jeans and sneakers, and by stressing “no dress code” what they really meant was “Dress like me in jeans and sneakers.” I didn’t. I wore dress slacks, loafers, and a button down every day. This annoyed them greatly, and the President had several conversations with me about how I was dressing. Below is a compendium of how our conversations went.

PRESIDENT: We have no dress code here. People can wear whatever they prefer.

ME: That’s great.

PRESIDENT: So, just about everyone chooses to wear jeans and sneakers.

ME: That’s great.

PRESIDENT: So you can wear jeans and sneakers if you’d prefer.

ME: Thanks, but I prefer not to.

PRESIDENT: OK. Fine. But you don’t have to wear slacks and loafers. You can wear whatever you find most comfortable.

ME: I find slacks and loafers most comfortable when I’m sitting at a desk.

PRESIDENT: Well, most employees find jeans and sneakers to be the most comfortable.

ME: I don’t. Do you want me to wear jeans and sneakers?

PRESIDENT: You can wear whatever you want.

ME: I want to wear a collared shirt, slacks and loafers.

PRESIDENT: OK, but many employees find that their wardrobe makes a personal statement.

ME: So does mine.

PRESIDENT: What is your statement?

ME: That I prefer to wear slacks, a collared shirt, and loafers when I work.

PRESIDENT: Don’t you want to make an original statement?

ME: Wearing jeans and sneakers to match my co-workers would state that I am actually unoriginal, and that I am simply complying with the company dress code.

PRESIDENT: But we don’t have a dress code! In fact, many employees wear shirts with an ironic message. Our culture stresses individuality.

ME: Would it be ironic if I wore a suit and tie?

PRESIDENT: It would look like you work at a place with a dress code and that’s what’s so great about us – we don’t have a dress code!

ME: It sure sounds like there is a dress code. But if there is not one, then I prefer to wear a collared shirt, slacks, and loafers.

PRESIDENT: When we take a group picture for our next press release, will you at least wear jeans, sneakers, and our company t-shirt for that one photo shoot?

ME: Of course. I’ll wear whatever you tell me to wear, any time you request that I do so.

PRESIDENT: You know, we often break into spontaneous fun and play activities which spill outside. Wearing jeans and sneakers allows employees to switch gears without having to change.

ME: That’s OK. I don’t want to play games or roughhouse outside. I want to work.

PRESIDENT: One thing that employees appreciate about us not having a dress code is that they don’t have to shop for work clothes. They can wear whatever is in their closet.

ME: I have a closet full of slacks and shirts but only two pairs of jeans. If you want me to wear jeans every day then I need to go shopping for new work clothes.

PRESIDENT: Does it bother you that just about all the other employees choose to wear jeans?

ME: No. Does it bother the other employees that I don’t wear jeans?

PRESIDENT: Some people here feel that your wardrobe makes a judgmental statement about how others dress. Do you feel we should have a more professional dress code here?

ME: No. You just need to be honest about the dress code you are trying to enforce on me.

[buck.throckmorton at protonmail dot com]

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posted by Buck Throckmorton at 08:30 PM

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