Just Call Me Scruffy
As someone who has spent most of his working life in a suit, I listened to a recent news item with some amusement. In the Spanish town of Zaragoza, it seems that the local judges have reached the end of their tether about the dress code of the local police. In their frustration, the judges have requested that the police improve their personal cleanliness and appearance, cover their tattoos and stop wearing earrings when on duty, because they are finding it difficult to identify which are the criminals and which are the police during court proceedings.
Needless to say, this seemingly simple request has brought forth a flurry of anger from police officers, and their union. A memo requesting that police officers present themselves in a properly groomed and dressed manner, with a jacket and tie, if possible, seems to have provoked an outrage. Officers make the point that it is easy to identify police officers from criminals, since it is the police officers who are wearing an official badge. Maybe they have missed the point on this one?
The police union has responded by demanding a meeting with the provincial commissioner to request that the memo “be rectified”, but admitted that the “communications breakdown” may simply be because the commissioner is new at his job.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of individuality and quirkiness, when appropriate. The key for me here is ‘when appropriate’, since I am not a great lover of seeing a bank clerk wearing shorts, tee shirt, chewing gum and with arms covered in tattoos. However, it may be perfectly appropriate for popping down to the beach or off to a club for the evening. Similarly, I would not have the greatest of confidence in a surgeon who is about to operate on me, sporting a ring through his nose or other visible piercings and grotesque tattoos.
I accept that much depends upon the climate. In my example of the bank cashier it would not, for instance, be appropriate for a banker to wear a three piece suit during August in the Canarian climate or, indeed, during any part of the year. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I rather like to see people dressing appropriately for their work, and judging from the Zaragoza example, it seems that I am not the only one with this point of view.
I much prefer to see a nurse in a nice smart, starched uniform, wearing one of those crisp little hats that used to be so popular; a little like those worn by Barbara Windsor in the Carry on Nurse film, I guess. It makes the patient feel so much better without even needing any treatment. Sadly, my last experience in hospital was quite unnerving since a very nice, but unshaven young man in a green smock appeared, who I thought was the cleaner, to tell me that he was my anaesthetist. Before I could complain, he had stuck a needle in my arm, which was probably just as well…
Barrie Mahoney was a head teacher and school inspector in the UK, as well as a reporter in Spain, before moving to the Canary Islands to launch and edit a new English language newspaper.