Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Corporate Cruelty

My employer is guilty of the most heartless act a company can perpetrate against a middle-aged woman: they make me carry an ID imprinted with a photo taken eleven years ago.

It’s probably not intentional cruelty that underpins this policy, but simple economics. The badges contain little radio chips that operate (or refuse to operate) various doors throughout the campus, and replacing them capriciously wouldn’t be cheap.

I wear the badge on a clip at my waist, generally beneath a loose fitting shirt or sweater, but occasionally someone will catch a glimpse of it. The dialogue always goes something like this:

“Wow! Is that you?”

“No. I stole it from the 43-year-old hottie who works in Procurement.”

“No, I mean, really?”

“Yes, it was taken a while back.”

“Wow, I guess! Boy, you sure used to have a lot of hair. What happened to it?”

“I was leaning over the mower and accidentally started it up.”

“Why are you wearing a suit?”

“The business world was different when you were in junior high.”

“You look a lot younger.”

“Time does that.”

“I mean, a lot.”

“Mm-hm.”

“Wow, that’s crazy. Too funny.”

“Yes. Ha-ha.”

The worst part is, the conversation makes me stop and gaze at that image of myself from eleven years ago. I started this job in September, after taking the summer off to finish up my Bachelor’s degree (I actually took my first college class when I was 15 – I was on the 30-year-plan and finished early). I spent that summer studying, keeping house for my brand new husband (okay, he was a little used, but I prefer to think of him as nicely broken in) and going to the local pool. The face on the badge is smiling and unlined, full of optimism about the new life and new job she’d embarked on.

So maybe it’s not thrift that prevents the company from issuing updated IDs.

Maybe they just don’t want people’s real faces glaring out from badges everywhere.

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