It’s Me, With A Beard. Same Guy, I Think.Posted: January 13, 2012
I returned to work this week, a changed man. I had been absent for about three weeks. In fact, because I was trying to take things slow as I recovered from surgery, I was absent from most places where I have face to face contact with people. During my period of isolation, I committed an act that transformed me in the eyes of those who know me.
I grew a beard.
I’m Not Supposed To Do That
My employer has some pretty strict rules about my appearance. One of them concerns facial hair. I’m allowed to have a mustache, but I am not allowed to grow one on days that I’m working. Beards are forbidden. Most of the people who were around when I still had my experimental college mustache at the start of my career are long gone. I haven’t really had the urge to invite the mustache back, but I do miss some of those old timers.
Until at least early February, I am on limited duty at work while I mend. No contact with the public, relaxed dress code. Relaxed dress code, in this case, means no one cares if I grow a beard or long hair. So three weeks after clean-shaven me dropped off the radar, bearded me returned to civilization.
Monday At 5:30 A.M.
I drove into the lot at work, gathered my things and walked toward the building. Two of my co-workers were standing outside, talking. I was about to yell something abusive across the lot at them when I saw something. One looked at the other, the other shrugged. It was the silent “who is this guy” exchange. They didn’t know who I was until I got fairly close to them. I knew I looked different than usual. I didn’t know I looked different.
The better part of my first day in the office was spent seeing people who’ve known me for years walk by, do a double take and walk back to my desk. They’d ask about my surgery and how I was healing, then talk about the beard. “So they put these screws in my vertebrae”. “Yeah, whatever. The beard, man. The beard looks good.”
The beard talks were longer than the surgery talks. They didn’t so much talk about the beard as rave about it. Some people came back several times to reinforce the point that they really like the beard very much.
It was nice to hear that people thought I was looking well. Still, it felt strange.
So I Left
I went to go get my morning bagel.
Bagel shop people liked the beard too. Customers. Employees. Some dude in the parking lot. All digging the beard. All of one freely expressed opinion – I should keep the beard. “Keep the beard Oma, you look great.”
Later I slipped out to my favorite coffee shop for my raspberry hot chocolate (skim, no whipped cream thank you). Again, “keep the beard”.
Keep the beard. Ahh, there’s the rub.
The Beard Must Go
Yes, by regulation, the beard has to go when I return to full duty.
I’ll go to my surgeon in early February for my second follow-up visit. If he sees fit, he will clear me to return to work without restrictions. I’ll hand some paperwork over to Human Resources and go home.
The next morning, clean shaven Omawarisan will arrive at work. People will say things like “oh, hi.” Some will say “what’s up?” Cool salt and pepper beard, distinguished, interesting Omawarisan will be gone.
When I go get a bagel, or hot chocolate, people will say “good morning” and “thank you”. Same old me will be back.
But not quite. Now I know that other guy is in there…waiting.