Recently, I was shopping at Albertson’s in South Laguna near my home when I ran into one of our local firemen. He was doing his daily shopping as well, putting together something tasty for the other guys to eat no doubt. I struck up a conversation with the young man, and he was very pleasant and professional. I’ll keep his name to myself, but that being said, it was refreshing to meet a young, energetic man ready to do whatever we might need him to do for our community. During our conversation, I noticed that he had a bandage over his left ring finger. I asked him if he had hurt himself on the job, albeit a very small injury I assumed. He politely explained to me that basically, “he was required to cover a tattoo that represented a wedding ring.” I laughed out loud (which I quickly regretted), and then asked him if he was joking. He explained to me that he married his wife on a South Pacific island and that they were part of a traditional ceremony. Part of the tradition included getting their ring fingers tattooed, rather than exchanging rings.
Whatever the reason for the tattoo on this young man’s finger may be, whether it be traditional in nature or just as simple as not wanting to wear a ring, it seems very strange to me that our city (or possibly just our fire department) would require its employee to cover such a meaningful reflection of his devotion to his wife. While he never complained to me about the rule he has to follow, I definitely saw some disappointment in his face while explaining the situation to me. I never got the chance to ask him how his wife felt about him covering his wedding ring, but I’m sure we could all assume how she would feel. He also told me that he had already spent in excess of a thousand dollars removing another tattoo on his other hand he received during the ceremony because he was tired of wearing a glove all day and every day while on duty. That one really sent me over the edge!
In conclusion, I just thought it was very interesting that a community such as ours, which prides itself in individualism, the arts, and a generally liberal attitude towards life in general, would require one of its employees to cover such a unique and meaningful body decoration. I hope, for this young man’s sake, that something as tawdry as this policy should eventually fall by the wayside.
Brian MacDonald, Laguna Beach