Office Policy or Death of Freedom?

>> Monday, June 18, 2007

Two nights ago, I watched The Devil Wears Prada again and I thanked my angels that I am better off than Emily err Andy (Anne Hathaway). After watching it, I was inspired to write about "Jobs that pay the rent" but it all changed last night when Mustafa, the new recruit a.k.a. manager wannabe approached me and asked the thing that I dreaded most in a 9-5 job (8am-12midnight if you're me): "Jafer, how do you feel about wearing a suit and a tie to work everyday?"

My friends, put your seats back in the upright position and make sure you have your tray tables stowed (Tyler Durden's words out of my mouth), we're in for a bumpy ride.

But first, a little introduction to our new recruit, Mustafa.

Mustafa is from Egypt. He's around 25 years old, tall, good-looking, fit, smart. He calls himself engineer although I doubt if he passed a BAR BOARD (thanks to Yeric for the correction) of some sort. But there is no denying that he is good in his field which is computer (and IT) and he is aggressive, determined, albeit over the top. He dresses like a stockbroker and acts like one too. Cocky, demanding and manipulative (if any of these statements can be grounds for libel, I'm telling you now, my blog is often exaggerated that it borders on fiction).

However, last night wasn't fictitious at all. In all fairness to Mustafa, in the two months that he has been in the office, there were a lot of changes. For one, the clients (i.e. lazy Qatari college students who let other people do their book reports which poor Pinoys like me are more than willing to accommodate) doubled. The IT classes tripled (but then maybe because it's summer), and we got more printers working at the same time.

We should all be happy that he's around. As I've observed though, most of the staff were not happy. I have listened to everyone's qualms about Mustafa. Before the incident last night, I was quite neutral with the Mustafa issue because I was mostly unaffected by his actions. In fact, I admired him for bringing forth change in the office and I figured that my officemates are unhappy because they are simply afraid of change.

"Jafer, how would you feel about wearing a suit and tie to work everyday?" Mustafa said. My smile turned into an expression that said "are you kidding?" and I said, "are you kidding? No!"

Before you slap me with my own words and accuse me that I am afraid of change, let me point out a few reasons why I refuse to wear the Wall Street prescribed outfit to work.

1. I believe in freedom. The littlest policies can spell oppression and the moment somebody imposes their fashion on you then it's a revolution, baby. I am not a glam guy and my taste in clothes may not be runway material but my clothes speak of who I am, it's my personal expression.

2. I don't believe that a suit and a tie will dramatically improve my work. Brains don't come in polyester and cotton.

3. There are proper places where one can wear suits and ties. Were our office involved in trading stocks at the 48th floor of Mustafa Towers, by all means. But if your office address is at Suoq Al Kowari (Al Kowari Market) where your next door neighbors are photocopy centers and a bookshop, you ought to play it smart and get real.

4. Here's a management tip,
happy employees mean happy clients (read the bit "On Hiring Experts"). I've already talked to the rest of the guys in the office. They too don't like the idea, they feel that wearing such heavy clothing will not be comfortable and will surely affect their performance.

5. We're in Qatar. It's bad enough that it's a desert here and Mustafa had to rub the heat in by suggesting we all wear winter the summer!

6. If he's too concerned about how the employees look, then we should hire fashion models. To hell with talent and degree.

Agree? Suddenly I'm reminded of a scene from The Devil Wears Prada where Andy ranted about her work to Nigel (Stanley Tucci) to which he replied "you're just whining".

To Mustafa's "defense", a snippet of our conversation:

Jap: No, Mustafa, not a chance. You won't make me wear a suit and a tie. (To
those who know me, as early as this line, my lips were already trembling and my
eyes wide's the coffee).

Mustafa: Yani, (an Arabic
interjection, not the musician) it's a nice thing to wear to the office, yani,
one way we can look presentable.

Jap: Are you saying that I'm not

Mustafa: La, la, la, la, (he's not singing, he's actually
saying "no, no, no, no") yani, you see, we can get big companies to partner with
us if we wear suits and ties, it's one of their requirements.

Jap: Which
company? Fashion TV? I don't see how one can assume that good clothes equal good
service. I don't have to prove my worth by wearing your kind of clothes. I have
been working here for six months now and I have proven that I can do my job
effectively without a tie.

Mustafa: I've been working as a manager
alhamdulilah for ten years (is he kidding me? he must've been 15 then) and yani,
all people look up to somebody with a good appearance.

Jap: (I don't
even know why I continued with this conversation) I am sure they will prefer a
hard-working man over a good-looking one (unless it's Brad Pitt of course).

Mustafa: Yes, but we are professionals and we should dress accordingly,
and we can get more clients this way. Is it too much to ask if getting clients
would mean that you will be getting QR10k later on?

Jap: Ten thousand
riyals? Well, I'll wear a skirt if you want if I'm assured of that salary! But
I'm not getting even half of that amount. Are you saying that you're wearing a
suit because you're getting that much?

Mustafa: La, la, la, la (to the
tune of 10k?) I'm not getting that salary, but we can if we wear a suit and tie.

Jap: (Imagining how ridiculous the conversation was becoming, I decided
to end it) Look, I will not wear it. If for some reason I am not fit for the job
because I don't wear a tie, send me back home.

Mustafa: La, la, la we're
not sending you home, we'll talk about this with the boss. Yani, you can tell
him how you feel about this and we'll ask him his decision.

Jap: Ok.
(Walk out).

Right, bring up the boss card. I am not afraid. I have a speech prepared for the boss, it goes like this:

"A man's wisdom is not measured by the length of his tie. Respect doesn't come
with shoulder pads. Your good actions, values and principles--these are the
things that will earn respect. If you have these, you can walk naked and still
have dignity. But if you've done something bad, you can cover yourself up with
the most expensive clothes but people will still see your shame." Cue background
music. Fade to black.

That is why I am a self-proclaimed scriptwriter. It sounds cheesy but it's true.

I stayed up all night thinking about this damn suit and tie proposition. I am not immersed in my wonderful world of Jap. I know that some of you are thinking that I'm a big baby and I am not fit in the professional world, that I'm not thinking "professionally".

Alright, fair enough. The thing is, it is not even a rule...yet. It was just a suggestion, and that is why I'm airing my sentiments while I still can.

In the end, when the boss decides that I should wear the suit and tie anyway, I will, with a heavy heart, I suppose but I will.

I will wear the suit and tie, but I will choose which color. They will be sorry that they even suggested the attire in the first place. I will contact Kuya Germs and borrow from his wardrobe, I will also wear it all black to signify the death of freedom in the office. Watch out, Mustafa, the bitch is back.OUT

14 responses:

intsik 18 June, 2007  


This is why you're one of the best peepz in blogosphere! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

First, good luck sa outfit! hahahahaha and i could picture out the conversation you had with mustafa (lion king ba ito?). hahahahaha good luck then sa init japz!

Second, amazing post! And cge ko katawa! Buing jud ka sa imo handling niya. Bitaw, imo response when u r on th edefense is really funny. maluoy ko diretso. hahahahahaha

Enjoy ko! Hidlaw nako news from you! hehehehehe

As for ur inquiry kung kinsa from USLS-IS ang nagaparamdam... sikreto para bibo... hehehehe

Jhed 18 June, 2007  

Haha! Your conversation with Mustafa was very funny. LOL. I agree with all the points you gave.. what the hell is the connection on wearing suits and having an increase?! Haha!

Malamang, sa iyo mag-siside yung boss mo. Baka nga sila, ayaw nilang mag-suot ng suits e. LOL. Epal yang si Mustafa ha, mahilig pumapapel. LOL.

HRHMax 19 June, 2007  

Make sure to tell your boss that if suits are going to become a requirement, they should pick up your dry cleaning bill!

Productivity and presentability aside, it is still not Mustafa's place to dictate what you should be wearing to work. Just because he is the supposed office manager, it doesn't mean he gets to be the fashion mutawwa as well.

If you end up having to be forced into suits, I'm sure you'll blow him out of the water. ;)

Jap 19 June, 2007  

JOEY, salamat dong =)Khalid (another officemate who's against the dresscode), Mustafa and I had a heated argument just after I posted this. I didn't bother change or add to this post because the things we discussed were basically the same, only louder. We gave Mustafa a chance to explain his side and he said that the boss only told him to tell us.

JHED, thanks for reading =) where's your blog at?
Jhed, after another heated argument with Mustafa, Khalid and I decided to talk with the boss. Unfortunately, he really wants us to wear a suit and a tie, but contrary to what Mustafa said, it is not compulsory and it will be uniform for all of us. The boss apologized for not telling us directly. He put the blame on Mustafa's English communication skills. I think tama ka, masyado lang talaga mapapel si Mustafa. Papel na, plastic pa. =)

MAXIE, the good thing was that the boss made clear that Mustafa is not in the position to order us around and most especially not in the position to be making office policies.

And if I end up wearing suits, I'm sure I'll blow him period. LoL =)

Bien 20 June, 2007  

Fascinating! U reminded me of the stubborn Jap back in college. Now I don't feel estranged with you anymore even if we've lost contact for years.(?) Your widening eyes and trembling lips everytime you get provoked, gives me a feeling of nostalgia. You know, it's a fact that makes me smile yet makes me feel sorry for I can't see it personally now hehe.

Newei, if I were in Mustafa's shoes, I might have thought of the same thing. Sometimes business has its needs that may not make all employees happy but as you've said it doesn't fit in your situation even with just the mere geographical fact. ( "...Suoq Al Kowari (Al Kowari Market) where your next door neighbors are photocopy centers and a bookshop...")

In a way, you should be thankful for Mustafa. He just gave you one of the wonderful topics to talk about in your blog. :) Hell, this might bring a lot of interested readers waiting for any funny, weird or inspiring issues with him.... (or perhaps I'm just being naive... let me then say,..) or not.

Ciao Jap.... Ingat always!

Jap 20 June, 2007  

LoL@Bien! hehehe Years are just numbers bro =) I'm 29 years old (imagine that!) yet I still feel seventeen, even think like one! hahaha so, don't ever feel "estranged", you're my younger brother after all hehehe. It brings to mind one of my beloved arguments lifted from Great Expectations: "People don't change vs. People change". So far, I'm still with the "People don't change" team.

You're right, I'm a bit of a stubborn prick then. =) I'm not utterly proud of it, but i'm not ashamed to admit it either. But in this case, it was more like the activist part of me venting out some genX angst hehehe. Qatar is already a country full of restrictions and the little freedom we enjoy in the office should be upheld not stepped upon.

But the sad fact is we don't pay the bills. At least, I tried =)

Bien, the purpose of this blog was just to update my friends and family, those who care anyway, about my OFW stint here. So, you finding my blog is rather expected (I would've been very disappointed if you didn't read my blog despite writing about Catcher in the Rye). Complete strangers bumping into me is just a nice bonus =)

Take care, Bien. Hope to chat with you soon, I do miss your musings and unpredictable queries hehehe

MANDAYA MOORE: Ang bayot sa bukid 20 June, 2007  

o sige, papilion ka: coat and tie o gown?

char lang!

nice read you have here.

Jap 20 June, 2007  

LoL Mandaya, kung ako lang, mag mandaya outfit jud ko dai pareha nimo hahaha =)

thanks for visiting...enjoi lagi imong pictorial with the coconuts.

by the way, kaano ano mo si Maui Pacquiao?

intsik 20 June, 2007  

Hahahahaha imagine the impact sg blog! I am glad though that your boss has drawn lines. And as for Mustafa, at least he did clarify his stand... its good that feedbacks are properly channeled. hehehehehehe Juice ko japs, galingin ulo ko sa response sa blog ko... grava na ito! Actually, tak-an ko but well, my bad... hahahahahahaha nonetheless, I am standing by it... Im not changing it jud!

HRHMax 20 June, 2007  

Picturi da bi si Mustafa! Lantawon ta kung blow-worthy si Toto. heehehe.

gibbs cadiz 20 June, 2007  

haha, great post! naku, wear a tie with a print or picture of a panty-less britney, then slap mustafa with it. tignan lang natin, hehe. btw, don't just stop with kuya germs. mike velarde has splashier suits nowadays. :)

Jap 20 June, 2007  

JOEY, stand by your blog. obra man sila ila e, di ba? =)

MAXIE, I'll upload the pic on my friendster account. I'll tell you when it's there, and why are you interested anyway? hahaha may Ive ka na noh haha

GIBBS, thanks, and thanks for the suggestion! Haha Mike Velarde slipped my mind. You're right, he is more fab than kuya germs nowadays! haha He's like the preacher version of the artist formerly known as Prince. The panty-less britney tie might be hard to come by in a muslim country so i'll probably stick with Looney Tunes ties...Porky Pig especially. ;->

jinoe 25 June, 2007  

Devil wears prada guid e. I hate being formal in work but i like it when in church. Good thing I can wear shorts at work as long as I dont go to the manufacturing line.

Jap 26 June, 2007  

Mayo ka pa Jin hehehe

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