Today’s advice: For new graduates

“You Want My Advice?” is a twice weekly (Saturdays and Sundays) summer replacement feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Heed my word at your own risk.

Q. I recently graduated from college and started working in the real world. My problem is that my name is gender-neutral, which my parents tell me was intentional. Many new business acquaintances, whom I meet through e-mail, mistake me for a man. I am often addressed as Mr. and worse, taken for my own secretary when they call. It’s awkward to explain and then embarrassing for the person calling. Is there a polite way to let people know my gender? – It’s Pat

A. I can definitely sympathize and may be able to offer some unique advice from the perspective of someone named “Davis Whiteman.” The “Davis” part comes from several previous generations of fathers and grandfathers, and is not to be confused with “David,” which I’m often mistakenly called. Because my father was also a Davis (actually he went by “Dave”), I became known as “Davie,” which I dropped as soon as I got to college. My son also has the first name of “Davis,” but we call him by his middle name, Daniel. I don’t know who or why somebody came up with the “Whiteman” part – it might’ve seemed like a good idea at the time (1800s), but is definitely awkward in this modern multicultural era. It’s actually pronounced “White-mun,” a small consolation.

Now what was your question again?

Oh, yeah … something about how you want to show your genitals at work. This is not something I’d recommend for most professional workplaces. While it may be essential for certain jobs in adult entertainment and, more recently, the real estate industry (“I’ll show you mine if you buy this house”), most of the dress-for-success literature out there strongly suggests dressing. If you’re a woman, you may want to stay away from pant suits; if you’re a man, I’d avoid putting flowers in your hair.

Electronic and telephonic communications are admittedly a little more problematic. For email, I think you can solve the problem merely by using pink paper for emails if you’re a girl and blue paper for emails if you’re a boy. On the phone, just talk in a real high-pitched squeaky voice if you’re a girl and a booming low-pitched baritone if you’re a boy. As an added flourish, make passing references to Barbie dolls or rocket-propelled grenades, as appropriate.


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4 Responses to “Today’s advice: For new graduates”

  1. fkdupdad Says:

    That is funny!

  2. wrjones Says:

    Simply solid solid advice. I sure wish I had read this before showing my genitals at work.

  3. planetross Says:

    I lost the plot somewhere in reading this post. It’s probably not the post’s fault though … possibly it’s just the plots. hee hee!

  4. planetross Says:

    I swear on a stack of bibliotechs that I did not read this article before writing my own. We must be cycling like sometype of woman phenomenon. Honest (seriously).

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