Over a year before the very popular No Asshole Rule was published, the CEO here at Grassroots was interviewing me for a job, and told me that one of his tenets was having a “no assholes policy.” While obviously (if it’s not so obvious, you REALLY need to read the book) this is a good policy for a business, it’s really a good policy for everything else in life too.
One major problem is not knowing that someone is an asshole soon enough. If you’re the type (like I’m probably apt to be) who trusts someone by default, until given reason otherwise, you could be likely to get burned by finding out the true asshole nature of a new acquaintance too late. On the other hand, if you don’t trust anyone until they earn it, you might likely be the asshole we’re talking about. The name of the game is reading people, and I’m here to help.
A Brief History Lesson
Most native speakers of English (and perhaps others) are familiar with the terms “blue-collar” and “white-collar,” which respectively represent workers performing manual labor and those who are in managerial roles. The basis for these terms is simple — if you’re digging trenches, fixing trucks, or welding railroad ties all day, it’s easier to keep a blue shirt looking respectable than a white shirt. Administrative folks, on the other hand, can work exclusively in white shirts without much risk of damage.
This practical difference soon came to be used as a color code for class, since the white-collar jobs usually pay more, and the white shirt became a major symbol of the upper-middle class. For at least a generation, a certain type of manager-type employees would scarcely leave the house without a crisp white shirt on their back.
For the “gentlemen” who considered this to be a symbol they were proud to wear, fashion trends in recent years have raised a conundrum. If color is in style, and color shirts are in style, then how can you possibly maintain your white collar status symbol? Enter The Asshole Collar.
The Asshole Collar
We’ve all seen it: the blue shirt with a white collar and cuffs. The perfect way to maintain your white-collar social status while wearing a colored shirt like the cool kids. In fact, if you want to be even more of a status symbol, consider similar shirts in pink, green, or the pattern of your choice. Never will you be confused with one of those grunts wearing similar shirts without the white collar, and we can all be thankful for that!
It’s perfect for the office, where you can stand out from those other homogeneous jerks who all wear stark white shirts to express their inner aristocrat. But not only that, it’s also perfect for nights and weekends when you just want to make sure that everyone knows that they might be working for you someday.
Assholes nationwide — and probably worldwide — have embraced this new, and highly practical, fashion. In fact, some of the men who best exemplify the asshole archetype have been sporting it for years now. Since they’re fake or dead, we can talk about them.
Consider Bill Lumbergh, the asshole boss in Office Space. He sports the salmon shirt with white collar, perfectly positioned to assert his authority as he asks for a little of your time on Sunday, takes back that stapler (left), or checks in on your TPS reports.
If fictional characters don’t drive it home for you, let’s have a look at Ken Lay, former chairman of Enron and the man whose New York Times obituary was titled “Symbol of Corporate Excess.” While being responsible for $65 billion being essentially stolen from investors large and small, he showed up at his congressional hearing wearing the Collar. Nice guy, that Ken Lay.
In my brief digging, I wasn’t able to find a shot of a definite female asshole sporting the collar. To our readers: is this style on a woman still indicative of asshole tenancies, or just a matter of style? I suspect it still holds, but maybe my suspicions can be confirmed…
So if you meet someone wearing an Asshole Collar, let this serve as warning that he may not quite be the nice guy he claims to be (if he even bothers to claim). If you’re interviewing someone for a job, and they show up wearing the Collar, make sure you grill a little extra on how well they work with others. In fact, maybe use some of the approaches in Guy Kawasaki’s post on how to identify asshole bosses — it works well for all occasions.
If you, on the other hand, are the wearer of said collar… well, maybe you should take the ARSE.