It is not only about contact with people. Contacting people face to face wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to face them looking like a retard. A homeless one. A receptionist interacts with people, she has to be courteous at all times, smile, be friendly and polite. Just like I have to be. Though she doesn’t start from a position of an ugly duckling, of a Cinderella (before she met a fairy). Part of her duty is to maintain a high standard of personal appearance. I have to perform my duties looking like a clochard.
The uniforms they bought for us… There were some many aaawwwsss over it. New, beautiful uniforms – and no hats anymore! That was before they arrived. Vast majority of staff are women so they’ve ordered unisex. Unisex uniforms 🙂 Logically, right? I wear size 8 – 10 of a women’s shirts that are cut to emphasise waist and bust. These shirts are unisex which technically makes them men’s shirts. There is no waistline. There is a little pocket on the chest and shirt has buttons on men’s side (right hand side). It is so wide I could wear it together with my twin sister – if I had one. It is long enough to turn it into a dress – a so-called shirtdress – just add a belt. And such dress wouldn’t reveal too much, staying modest and suitable for an afternoon tea with your mother-in-law. And it is also size 10.
The trousers for a change are too small. I’ve asked for my usual size 10 and I got it. Now, for 8 hours of my shift, I have to wear trousers that are too tight in the waist, hurting my body, leaving deep red marks on my skin, like someone just whipped me across. They violently enter the dark and private valley between my buttocks, they encroach my crotch. I am being raped while serving at the till, I am harassed while making coffee, I am fiddled with when restocking drinks in the fridge. I use all my willpower to not rich behind and dig the trousers together with pants that almost got lost in that deep valley out. This ongoing rape goes for 8 hours a day.
Whenever I can, I use my old trousers that show marks of being use for a long time, shapeless, with a sow along the front, so it is easier to iron them, you don’t need to make a fold. But at least they show kindness to my intimate parts.
Now it is time to accessorize. The hat. The hat that was never to be worn again. The hat that should be only a bad memory now, a nightmare you woke up screaming from. The hat that looks like a mourning chamber pot, black hat of a widow, crying there is no voal attached to it so it coud cover our faces and save me some shame.
On top of all that I wear an apron as comfortable as a straitjacket used in mental institutions. The only one thing that saves this apron in my eyes is its color – live lime-green. It feels like a touch of sunshine, it breaks through this funeral parlor crew look.
I need to add that I work in a canteen, where ovens, toasters, grills, fridges, hot display counters are all the time on. Air conditioning has as much power as a hospice’s patient, trying to fight a lost battle. Audit carried some time ago confirmed temperature is over 27C. Like a middle of summer during which I wear too big shirt, trousers, apron and hat. All of it is air-proof, made of some sort of synthetics. Whet stops me – us – from running away screaming are our safety shoes that weight 0,5 kg each and that keep us solid on the ground.
- Uniforms have to be clean and ironed.
- Name badge visible at all times.
- Stand straight, hands not crossed, alongside the body.
- No leaning against the counter.
- No sitting allowed.
No exceptions. Even if there are no customers. Even if you have musculoskeletal problems diagnosed and permission or even advice from occupational health to sit.
Front to the customer.