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Just Call Me Magnum

, , , | Working | June 30, 2022

I love Hawaiian shirts, including in the workplace. I perform better when I feel myself, but I always ask my employers what is acceptable workwear and read the dress code. My current job is zero hours and terrible shift patterns. I’m offered a nine-to-five, permanent job and jump at the chance. It’s much easier, too.

I explain to my new line manager that I intend to wear Hawaiian shirts if that is acceptable. He says he’s fine with it, and there is no dress code; I’m not dealing with the public, anyway.

My duties start… at a huge police station. I work hard, I’m on time, and I’m learning quickly. A hundred and fifty police officers come through my office every day.

On day one, I’m eating lunch in the canteen, and a bigwig sits down at the next table.

Police Officer: “Good afternoon, sir.”

Bigwig: “Hi, [Officer].”

I turn round and see epaulettes I don’t recognise yet.

Me: “Hi, I’m [My Name], new start today in [Office]. Can I ask what the epaulette means?”

Bigwig: “Welcome to this force, [My Name]. These epaulettes mean Superintendent. I am Superintendent [Bigwig], officer in charge of this station. How is your first day?”

Me: “Thank you, it’s going fine. What do police staff call you? Is my shirt okay?”

Bigwig: “Call me [First Name]. I love the shirt; you only deal with internal staff.”

Me: “Can I quote you on that?”

Bigwig: “Yes. If you receive any complaints, send them to me and I will explain to them what is acceptable dress in my station.”

If the officer in charge is happy and I’m getting my duties done, it must be absolutely fine, right? I am now required to replenish printer paper in several rooms, including for senior management. Friday of my first week, I enter the Command Suite, but I can’t find where I need to be. I see two people in uniform talking in the corridor

Me: “Excuse me, can you direct me to the photocopier on this level?”

The sergeant (one rank above officer) looks at my shirt in disbelief and pauses for five seconds.

Sergeant: “Who are you?”

Me: “My name is [My Name].”

Sergeant: “Would you mind showing me your pass?”

My staff ID is on a lanyard round my neck, as is expected. I hold it up.

Me: “Here you go.”

She studies it for another five seconds. It says something like, “[My Name], Junior Administrator, Appointed [this year].”

Sergeant: “What do you do, exactly?”

Me: “I work in [Office]. I started on Tuesday, and my duties include maintaining the printer paper for the senior officers here in Command.”

Sergeant: “Who told you you could wear this?”

Me: “Superintendent [Bigwig], station officer in charge.”

Sergeant: “Through that door, on the left.”

Unsurprisingly, in a few weeks, my outrageous shirts spread my name like wildfire to the 2,000 police officers in the city, dozens of whom cross my desk every day. Forget my department name or job title. Student cops are told, to get [task], email [My Name] or ask for “the Hawaiian shirt at [Station].” No one else has since queried what I wear.

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