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I’ve always believed the key to professional success is 30 percent hard work and 70 percent appearances. If you work your ass off from nine to five every day at the office, you’ll be great at your job. But if you appear to be working your ass of every day from five minutes before the boss shows up ‘til five minutes after he leaves, you’ll be promoted. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Oregon Trail online, busting your friend’s balls in the group chat, or browsing the internet. If you look like you’re working hard, that’s more important than actually working hard. Perception is reality, in life and in the workforce, and all that matters is whether you’re perceived as a hard worker with middle management written all over you.
You know the easiest way to ruin your professional image (short of getting caught jerking it in your cube)? Rolling into work covered in nothing but spandex and sweat. If you bike to work, you’ve given up on advancing in your career. There is no feasible way to ride a bicycle to work and still look professional when you arrive. Nothing makes your hair look worse than cramming a Giro helmet on top of it and sweating into that dome sauna for twenty minutes, and as Jack Donaghy so eloquently put in on 30 Rock, “Your hair is your head suit.” As someone with a hairline as strong as a three-month-old baby, I know how important your hair is to your professional image. I’ve seen the uncertainty on managers’ faces as they decide if I can handle a difficult project, and I’ve seen that uncertainty disappear when they laid eyes on my (less competent) coworker’s luxurious flow. If you think you’re going to fix this issue by not wearing a helmet, well, you’ll probably make a very pretty corpse.
“Not a problem,” I can hear you saying as you read this. “My hair is too short to be affected by a helmet,” or “I’m already bald at 28 and it can’t get any worse.” Wrong. The next thing your coworkers and bosses are going to look at is your face. Your bright red, flushed, sweating-like-an-obese-man-at-Disneyworld face. Unless your entire commute to work is downhill, you’re going to need to be using some muscles to bike there.
You know what the body’s response is to using muscles? Pouring salty liquid down your face, pits, and back in an attempt to cool you down. That’s right, I passed a biology class in high school. Your white button down, which let’s face it, could already use a dry clean, is now an appealing gray and white speckled pattern. Your pit stains could be seen from Mars and your groin feels (and smells) like a swamp. You better hope you don’t have to meet any clients because they will visibly recoil in disgust when they feel your moist hand slip out of theirs in your futile attempt to shake hands. Your best bet is to go with a fist bump. You’re going to lose that business either way; you may as well save them the awkwardness of having to immediately go wash their hands after touching you. If you have to go right into a meeting, you’re going to be surreptitiously adjusting your package for the duration in a desperate attempt to uncoil the knot your underwear has formed around your balls. People will notice, and rumors will be spread.
There’s only one way to avoid turning your business casual outfit into a damp, ill-fitting monkey suit: the spandex biking suit. I’m not going to lie, if you bike to work, the spandex outfit has its upsides. It’s breathable, flexible, and there’s a 100 percent less of a chance of you accidentally hanging yourself by your tie on your ride. However, none of that matters, because if you waltz in to work wearing spandex, I can promise you one thing: no one wants to interact with you. Something about a skintight onesie on a grown man makes people’s skin crawl, especially in (what they thought) was a safe workspace. No one wants to see your disgusting camel-toe put on display by your sheer, stretchy pants. If you’re lesser endowed than your boss, he’s not going to respect you enough to promote you. If you’re better endowed, he’s sure as hell not going to promote you out of pure jealousy. And if your boss is a woman, I’m pretty sure you’ve got a visit to HR coming your way, along with some restraining papers.
In short, riding your bicycle to work will immediately drop your appearance from a competent employee to “that fucking sweaty spandex guy.” Being the bicycle guy will overrule all other traits and perceptions of you in the workforce. When your name is brought up in promotion discussions, your managers will say “what, the dude who bikes to work?” and laugh until a more suitable candidate is discussed. Do yourself a favor – keep the bike for the weekends and arrive at work in a vehicle that shows you do nothing but strike deals grease palms: a cherry red Miata. .