What goes around comes around. As sure as the earth circles the sun, every generation is destined to freak out its elders with new cultural fads. Payback for long hair comes in the form of body piercings in places that make me cringe.

I didn’t realize precisely how widespread was this drive toward self-mutilation among the Millennial Generation until I read this item in the Herman Trend Alert.

A 2006 Pew Research survey found that 36% of people ages 18 to 25 had tattoos, while an astounding 40% of those 26-40 sported them.

This presents a problem in particular for service companies that have trouble enough attracting technicians. The people they hire are almost all among the tattooed generation, while a large percentage of customers are fogies like me who take a dim view of gratuitous body punctures.

The Herman Group reports that “most courts have backed up businesses in their right to make appearance demands from employees,” although there have been contrary rulings. Legalities aside, tattoo removal is a drastic undertaking. Service firms seem to have three choices, none of them completely satisfactory.
    1. Avoid hiring people with tattoos and/or body piercings. With capable technicians in short supply as is, this seems impractical.

    2. Make them cover up with long sleeves, or in the case of nose rings and other nauseating displays, remove the offending metal. This is probably the most workable solution, although it doesn’t resolve the problem of tattoos that appear on necks, hands or, *gasp* faces (I’ve seen more than a few).

    3. Give in to the youth culture and let them display their individuality however they see fit.
What’s your policy? Contractors, weigh in on this. Comments welcome below.

Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Jacom Stephens