Your Questions On New Jobs and Pronoun Etiquette
Why it's important to practice non-binary pronouns at work and on a daily basis
Who is Alex and what is this? This is an advice column where I, Alex, answer your questions about dating and about life. Got a question you want to see featured? Submit it in the comments below!
Drinking at Work
“I just started a job in the service industry and my training includes sampling a lot of the dishes and beverages that the restaurant sells—this includes alcohol. At what point does being intoxicated at work fringe on being inappropriate?“
People in the beer industry often talk about this issue. They’ll go to something where they need to sample a lot of different beer without getting completely hammered. Because beer people view themselves as more refined than their bucket-spitting wine peers, they need to actually consume their beverages. The solution? Active yeast. Apparently eating some active yeast before drinking can diminish the effects of alcohol. You won’t beat a breathalyzer, but you’ll be able to put away one or two more before reaching your limit.
Do I recommend this for you? Absolutely not. You’re at work and someone is giving you alcohol. Saver that sweet, sweet sponsored buzz. Assuming you’re not pouring these drinks yourself, you can’t really be to blame for their effects on your performance after all. This isn’t just true on an ethical level (it probably isn’t true on an ethical level, actually), it’s true on a legal level. Bartenders are legally responsible for the actions committed by patrons that they have over-served—as we learned from a recent case in Texas that I’d rather not talk about in this answer, but you can find it online pretty easily.
How drunk is too drunk for work, though? It really depends on your job. That biker bar I spent the better half of winter 2017 in? As long as you can stand, you’re probably okay. Olive Garden? You might want to cap it at one or two.
Pronouns at Work
“I just started a new job in a very progressive city and many of my new coworkers are non-binary or trans. I think it’s great that my new workplace is inclusive and I’m happy to be part of a place like this. That said, I’m very worried I might accidentally misgender someone—there are a lot of new names and pronouns for me to learn here. What should I do?“
It sounds to me like you’re making an effort to be respectful toward your new coworkers and I don’t think anyone at your job should expect you to have everyone’s information memorized overnight. Asking people, respectfully, to remind you of their pronouns (this is different than asking a person’s gender) is a consideration that I believe most people would find to be welcome.
And when you’re unsure (or if you haven’t been introduced yet), err on the side of using gender neutral “they/them” pronouns. This is a good habit to get into in general, particularly if you’re working in customer service or academics. It’s also good form to volunteer your own pronouns when introducing yourself—even if you’re cisgendered. Again, especially in academia and customer service, this is good habit to get into as these practices become more and more commonplace.
Are Work Dress Codes Outdated?
“I just started a new job working in an office with a fancy dress code. I don’t have very many clothes that fit the dress code and I’m wondering how many times is too many times to wear the same shirt/pants/tie, etc?“
I think places that require formal attire—which is antiquated in my opinion—are probably used to seeing new hires rotate a few of their “interview” outfits until they get their first couple of paychecks and can afford a quick run to the Nordstrom or Macy’s or whatever. With the holidays coming up, places like Macy’s are going to start unloading their clothes with massive discounts so hopefully you can hold out until then. Although, if your company is expecting you to wear suits they really ought to pay you the Nordstrom bucks.
Can you tell how much I hate tucking my shirt in?
On a real note, if you are in a place where you need to dress nice-nice, you’ll do well to scour the internet for some formal style conventions. I think it’s a little bit looser for women’s wear, but in menswear, there are a ton of weird things like cuff length and tie knots that correspond with certain collars. It’s gotten a little more lax over the years, but knowing and incorporating these conventions can sometimes go a lot further in making you look presentable than the price tag on your garment can.
RELATED: HOW TO DRES LIKE A BOSS FOR LESS
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This article originally published on GREY Journal.