Help me, Salty. The owner at the beer bar where I work has seen news stories about bars banning MAGA hats, and now she wants to do the same. Yesterday, she mentioned she’s thinking about making a sign to put on our front door. Look, I’m no fan of Trump’s politics, but I worry this is just opening us up to too much controversy. I don’t want our bar to be on The Drudge Report! Our town is a place where people have different political opinions, and I’ve never seen someone’s shirt or hat be an issue when I’m working. How do I steer my boss away from this hornet’s nest?
Don’t Want The Drama
Dear No Drama,
I guess this flaming bag of dog poo was bound to arrive on my doorstep at some point. With all of these “bans” in the news lately, I should have seen your question coming. But damn if I just didn’t look forward to answering it. I’d rather avoid politics entirely while I’m working—honestly, my shift is just about the only time of day I don’t have to hear about Donnie on the radio or TV or in an angry text from my sister. I never thought I’d be grateful for so many hours away from my phone. Alright, enough procrastinating. Let’s stomp out this fiery shitbag of a question.
In this one lady’s humble opinion, these “bans” are more hassle than they’re worth. You said you’ve never had an issue with a customer’s political attire before, so why open up a gallon-sized can of worms to solve a problem that doesn’t exist? I get the feeling the owner is trying to prove a point or take a stand, and it’s her business after all. But as an employee of her business who’s going to have to deal (on a daily basis) with the fallout from this policy, you’d also be within your rights to speak up about your concerns. Next time you see her, ask your boss if you can have a word with her privately.
I’d start by saying you have some questions about this proposed dress code, however tongue-in-cheek it may be, and ask whether she’s still planning to go through with it. If she is, gently ask her what she hopes to accomplish. I think her answer to that question will be very telling—what is she trying to accomplish anyway? Preventing bad behavior… that hasn’t yet happened? Taking a stand and saying her business doesn’t support someone’s politics? Fine, but risky, especially in a town that isn’t Austin or Berkeley. But since so much of our lives exists online, will your boss care about the one-star ratings and fake reviews that will surely come? Are you sure you want to survive the Google search results? Asking her to explain the point of the sign might make her pause to think through the consequences.
Next, you could tell her what you told me: While you agree with her politics, you’re nervous about the attention this move could bring. You can only speak for yourself, so tell her you’re afraid of the backlash from customers and media. Put it in work terms: “I’m worried that dealing with the media or customers’ complaints will distract me from doing my job” or “I worry that we could upset good customers.” Be honest and tell her what you told me: “I’ve never had a problem with a customer because of their politics. Maybe we could just deal with any problem as it comes?”
Because politics haven’t been an issue at your bar, why not just wait to deal with any bad apples if they arise? Sure, if someone walks into your bar spouting racist crap or starts a shouting match with another table, by all means, get them outta there. But it sounds like that’s never happened. In fact, it’s possibly more likely to happen if your bar owner puts politics front-and-center, like literally on the front door. Perhaps rather something so overtly meant to provoke (even if the intention is to take a righteous stance), she could do something practical, like donating to a charity that aligns with her politics?
Once you’ve raised these concerns to your boss, though, the ball is in her court. If she decides to slap up that sign, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether the ensuing headaches are worth sticking around for.
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