Life at Work

Lucky Ties, Bad Suits

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 4, 2006

We hear about it all the time, particularly during various sports playoff series. The hockey player who won't shave until the Stanley Cup is in hand. The baseball players who have their own rituals before they go up to bat. Football players saying their new jerseys jinxed their game.

Tuesday marks 6/6/06, which some reporters here say has brought in an onslaught of doomsday e-mails. It got us thinking: There are a lot of superstitious people out there. (I'll admit to being a bit superstitious myself.) So which superstitions do people bring into the workplace?

In many cases, it comes down to lucky clothes. Sure, that may sound strange. But think about it: How many times did you consider not wearing that shirt you wore the day your boss berated you in front of your team?

When Tracy Tajbl, a District-based consultant, was an event manager, she had an incredibly bad experience planning an alumni dinner dance for a local university. The event went off well, but attendance was poor. The alumni there were disappointed by the turnout and began to take it out on Tajbl and her colleagues.

Tajbl was wearing a new, blue silk dress that evening, but because the attendees were told to complain to the "lady in the blue dress," she had it dry-cleaned and promptly took it to a consignment shop.

Wearing the dress again would "bring back the nightmare of that event," she said.

Now if she has an interview or major presentation, she wears something new so she "doesn't bring anything else to it."

"I just don't want to wear something that makes you feel bad about yourself. You go in with a negative attitude. So you have to work hard to overcompensate for it," she said.

She now wears clothing she's done well in on days she knows she will have a tough meeting. "When we get dressed for the day, we're also going through a game plan," Tajbl said. "Something that makes me feel like I had good experiences in gives me a little edge."

(And what about passing the bad vibes on to some unknowing consignment shopper? "My dry cleaner is responsible for taking out the bad karma!" she exclaimed.)

Steve Crosson has a lucky White Sox tie an ex-girlfriend gave him for interviews during his senior year of college. At interviews where he wore the Sox tie, he received a job offer (Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and the U.S. Army). The ones where he wore a different tie, no offer.

Now, whenever Crosson, a computer engineer with the Army, has a big presentation at work, it's time for the Sox tie. If he has a big exam for graduate school, he wears the tie to work so he has it on for that night's class.

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