Sunday, August 8, 2010

What's that? Did it hurt? May I touch it?

     What is that?  What does it mean?  Did it hurt?  What are you going to do when you are 80?  May I touch it?  I will admit the feelers by permission are better than the random petters.

     Or, how about the dirty looks?  The looks of disgust by some.  We all know that anyone with a tattoo is a low life, a criminal, a freak, a maniac.  Hug your kids tighter because one of those inked up sideshow freaks have escaped from the circus and they are walking this way!

     Alright, I have loaded up on the sarcasm, sorta.  I say sorta because there are many people out there who harbor these prejudices against us decorated people of the world.  We are taught to not judge people by the color of their skin.  Yet it is a common practice for people to judge you for what is ON your skin.  It really doesn't seem right to me.

     I am a father of three children, a husband, a combat veteran of the USMC, a high school football coach, a small business owner, a published author and I have worked in law enforcement in some capacity for almost my entire adult life.  In addition to all of that, I am heavily tattooed.  Heavily.  I have no idea how many I have.  For the most part they all run together.  When I am finished, almost all of them will touch.

     I have encounters issues with me having tattoos almost since I started getting them.  I am not talking about the looks or the people who walk up and just touch you.  Obviously, if you have ink it is an open invitation to be petted like something from the petting zoo.  I am talking about the prosecuting attorney who warned me about about letting potential jurors see "them".  The general manager of a company that told me if he knew during my interview I had tattoos he would not have hired me.  I am talking about being told to wear sleeves and sweatpants when coaching football in August. (the sleeves and sweats lasted one night and I have never had a complaint by a parent).  Being told by the Chief where I now work, when I was being promoted, "If we could just get that shit off you arms now."  I told him that "shit" would be around a lot longer than the promotion.  He later instituted a very restrictive tattoo policy and then he resigned after 7 months.  Ironic, my tatts are now around longer than him.

     I am not crying about this.  I made the decision to get my tattoos and to continue to get them.  I am far from being finished.  I have a lot of skin to cover yet.  People get all kinds of tattoos for all kinds of reasons.  To each their own.  They are yours.  They all mean something different to each person.  Sometimes, just one little tat that is his from view is all that a person wants.  I personally like more.  That doesn't mean I am right, but it doesn't mean I am wrong either.  There are parts of my body I would never have ink slammed into.  But, I don't judge anybody that does.  Everyone has their line and everyone has their limit.  It is up to you where yours is.

     Regardless, my tattoos have never lowered my job performance or made me make horrible decisions.   I laugh when someone grabs or points at my tatted arms and says, "What is that?"  I reply, "my arm."  There is also the classic question, "what are you going to look like when you are 80?"  "I hope I make it to 80 and then I will look like a tattooed 80 year old I guess."

     Not all feedback is negative.  I receive a ton of compliments and the tattoos are always conversation pieces.  I guess the point that I am trying to make is the age old rule of don't judge a book by its cover.  I am not foolish enough to think the tattoo stigma will ever totally go away.  It won't.  But, if you are one of those people don't rush to judge.  Being inked doesn't make someone a bad person.

     We all know it's the freaks with the piercings that are the real problem! Just joking.

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