It’s Me, With A Beard. Same Guy, I Think.


What do I have in common with Nostradamus and...(Image via Wikipedia)

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.”

...and The Most Interesting Man In The World? After this month, nothing. (image via

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.


42 Comments on “It’s Me, With A Beard. Same Guy, I Think.”

  1. Wendi says:

    Tease. We want photos of the Oma Beard.

  2. Laura says:

    Maybe your doctor will write you a note explaining that the beard is a medical necessity, because in order to recover completely from your neck surgery, you need to shift the center of gravity of your head forward slightly.

  3. W. R. Woolf says:

    Aww… Is there really no way you can keep the beard?
    Where will it go if you shave it off?
    It will be homeless…
    Your boss doesn’t want to make your beard homeless, does he?

  4. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    It is amazing how beards can be so polarizing. I started to grow my goatee shortly after high school. I have no idea why even. It just seemed to fit my face. People hated it. From my mom, to my girlfriend at the time, to friends that were teasing me. It was railed against vehemently.

    After a while, I shaved it. I was told by the same people that had thrown fits of protest to grow it back. I had (have?) a “baby face” without it. I always hated the thought of sideburns… until one day, I guess I just stopped shaving them too. I have this lamb-chop thing going on that has drawn comments out of nowhere.

    Right before my wife & I started dating many years ago, I shaved it all off to be the infamous Slash (Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver) for a Halloween party. I remember my face being COLD. She had known me before, and thought I looked “funny” without the facial hair. I grew it back right away, and haven’t had the urge to go clean yet.

    I haven’t had the courage to go full beard yet, someday I may try. It’s only 2 or 3 less strokes of the razor in the morning.

    I have considered the Amish look, or the 90’s Hetfield also, but don’t think I could pull off either.

    Good luck in your quest to keep your beard as long as you can!

    It’s funny that in 2012 thing like beards are regulated. I can see rules on having a neatly groomed one, but an all-out ban? Why? Is there a beard phobia out there?

  5. What if the doctor writes you a note? Then can you keep the beard?

  6. Lenore Diane says:

    Retirement is around the corner. Grow beard – grow!

    In other news, you have a habit of throwing folks off with your looks. First, you go out in public and take your glasses off – then you grow a beard. Rebel.

  7. planetross says:

    The best I can do is grow a Shaggy/Scooby Doo beard at best: I’m folliclely challenged. (sad face)

    Well done.

    note: I bet if James Bond had a beard nobody would recognize him until he killed them.

  8. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Stay thirsty, my friend. And clean shaven. You’re the most interesting man in the world with or without the beard. Glad you’re doing well!

  9. Very distinguished. You’ve inspired me. I’m going to grow one, too.

  10. Todd Pack says:

    I go back and forth on the beard thing. For a while, I grew one over Christmas break and kept it for a few months, but last time, it was a lot more salt than pepper, so I said, “Forget it.”

  11. Linda Sand says:

    Get your dermatologist to write the note. Lots more credibility there.

  12. Debbie says:

    Well, now you have one more thing to look forward to in retirement. Other than the being retired part, you know!

  13.! 🙂 I’m surprised because I’m not usually a facial hair person, but it truly does look good on you

  14. Jane says:

    I gotta agree: The beard looks good. The big smile looks better. Glad to see you are doing so well!!

    You can bring the beard back when you are retired. Budding novelists should all sport beards.

    Unless, the budding novelist is female, of course .

    But if any female wants to grow a beard, then, of course, that would be fine.

    For instance, Hippie Cahier would certainly look good in a beard. Of course, she looks great without the beard, too. Whether or not she is budding a novel. Female non-buds look good in beards, too, or not.

    Because there should be no discriminations in the world of novels . . .

    The smile looks great on everyone!

  15. Is it my imagination or are you wearing a bullet proof vest in that picture??

    • omawarisan says:

      Nah, in this case it is your imagination. I do wear one at work, and I’ve also got a big heavy one and a helmet to wear when I practice my specialty and need to work closer that usual. That’s just a t shirt under one of those nylon wind shirts.

  16. linlah says:

    With the beard I didn’t recognize you probably due in part to never having realy met.

    Glad you’re doing well.

  17. spencercourt says:

    At least keep the mustache….

  18. Pie says:

    I’m not a fan of beards, but your one is really, really good. And you look so happy. That’s the face of someone who’s free from pain.

    When your retirement finally arrives, you can stick two fingers up by wearing your beard as long as you like (ZZ Top stylee) for as long as you like. You could even dye it different colours – rad!

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