Tattoos and food service

FLINT – Starbucks, the coffee chain, has told a female employee at a store in the Detroit area to get rid of her tattoo within 30 days or quit.

I’m of two minds on this.

The crabby, grown-up, hey-you-kids-get-off-my-lawn part of me thinks Starbucks is right on and has every right to enforce its long-standing policy against visible tattoos.

This is the part of me that also understands the value of fiber and mutual funds.

And shoe inserts.

This part of me also cringes when anyone cooking or serving me food looks like a carny, a pin cushion or the lead character in Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man.”

Private tats? Hey, fine. Your deal. But big, massive, public tats are telling the world something, although I’m not sure what. But whatever it is, I’m weirdly uncomfortable about it being anywhere near my farmer’s omelet.

Is it just me? Maybe so. But I suspect even people with tattoos probably think sometimes, “Do I really want a guy with snakes and screaming demons crawling up his neck and onto his cheek handling my food?”

Even worse are extreme piercings. I had this one waitress a few weeks ago who looked like a human hand grenade – pull one of her pins and kapow! She had piercings in her ears, nose, tongue, lip and eyebrow.

Looking at her, I wasn’t thinking about what I’d order. I was thinking, “I wonder how long it takes her to get through airport security?”

By the way, she had a cold this fine day.

“What (snork!) kin I git ya?” she asked.

I wanted to say a tissue. I also had to resist the urge to give her a stern, ridiculously long dad lecture on how on how no one will ever hire you for a career job when you appear to have shrapnel imbedded in your face.

Gauged or stretched earlobes are the worst of all, though. Have you seen these? All the other stuff I get on some level. This, I do not.

Why would you drill a hole in your ear and then stretch it until the hole is large and flappy and wide enough to throw a wadded up straw wrapper through, which is what I’m always tempted to do when I see one of those things?

That’s a fashion bell that can’t be unrung. Once you do that, you’re that way for life. And yet a lot of young people are doing it, which means there’s a chance the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will one day stand on the steps of the Capital and say, “As president of the United States, do you solemnly swear to … good heavens, man, what did you do to yourself?”

I fully realize that none of this is my business, by the way. It’s a free country. People can do what they please when it comes to their bodies, although I do think it’s funny that so many young people express their individuality by doing the same thing as everyone else their age. The nursing home is going to be one goofy looking place someday.

I also think Starbucks is being too one-size-fits-all about its policy.

The employee in question, after all, has an outline of a heart smaller than a penny on her hand. What’s the big deal?

I doubt the company will bend, though. Corporations rarely make exceptions, so if I were that woman, I’d get myself ear gauges. Nice big ones.

They’ll never notice the tattoo after seeing those suckers.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Write to Andrew Heller at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.