Hold the pickles and the piercings, please

Dear Nicole:

I went to the drive-thru of a chain restaurant in Ellsworth recently and the person handing me my food was nice enough but had all kinds of facial piercings. Half of them looked inflamed and infected. I almost threw up. I know these are entry-level positions, but aren’t there any standards?

— Don’t want fries, or piercings, with that in Ellsworth

OK, I think the “infected” part is key here. I will say there may be a reason this person is not behind the line preparing food but is handing you the bag and getting you change.

I would talk to the manager about your health concerns, not the piercings themselves, just the fact that they seem to be infected. Any manager in their right mind would take you seriously and address the issue with the employee, for the employee’s health as well as yours. (Hopefully they were concerned before you brought it up — good managers should care about this stuff).

Give the business a chance to make it right. If you go back and it’s still Oozeville, get your takeout elsewhere. Life is too short; no need to make yours any shorter!

Dear Nicole:

What’s up with these guys you see around Maine with saggy pants, hoodies or bulbuous baseball hats worn sideways? Do they think they are some kind of original gangstah? I’m not busting on skater dudes, but it’s almost like white people dressing up like gangbangers for Halloween. Just what do these people, and those with tattoos on their faces, think?

— Looking like “Ice, Ice Baby” doesn’t make you cool in Trenton

How people dress is definitely something everyone has an opinion on, from what color the dress is to the popularity of articles saying that we all could wear the same thing to work every day and save ourselves a lot of trouble. It’s easy to critique because, since we all wear clothes, we all have opinions on them.

I once knew a guy whose mantra was “You can’t judge other people’s tastes.” (Full disclosure: he wore stuff that was kind of crazy.) And whenever I find myself mentally assessing if that girl’s shirt is too tight or if that guy really thinks trucker hats are still a good idea, I say this mantra to myself. It takes me completely out of how this person is dressing. It’s also a very neutral and true statement. And I move on.

So long as someone is not putting other people or themselves in physical danger (or isn’t breaking any laws that could get them arrested), we don’t have any right to judge how they dress. Sure, workplaces can enforce dress codes and schools can have uniforms but as individuals, we all get to wear what we want in the world outside and have no jurisdiction over other people. (And if you think we should, consider life for women in Saudi Arabia or those people who tell their partner how to dress — not cool.)

We also have the right to change our style over time. I was quite the fan of velour hoodies 10 years ago, for example, and at this point probably won’t ever wear one again… until I want to, of course. And if someone like you wants to silently judge me when I do, I will silently savor how warm and comfortable my fur-like hoodie is and just keep walking.



Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]

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