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Bad Job, Worse Uniform

I had two people say that to me today, "I'm going to have you fired." Go ahead, be my guest. I'm wearing a green velvet costume; it doesn't get any worse than this.
David Sedaris, SantaLand Diaries

Sometimes, working as a Burger Fool just isn't embarrassing enough. Sometimes, the humiliation ante must be upped— that's where this trope comes in. Where most part-time jobs are content with just making their employees wear a polo shirt and a nametag, this one adds some sort of embarrassing accessory: A stupid hat, a stupid shirt, or a really bad colour scheme. Some places take it further, making their employees wear a whole Goofy Suit full of embarrassment. But whatever the case, the outfit makes the workers stand out, and makes the character wish they were dead.

Often in the form of a (not) Nice Hat at a restaurant, mainly a costume elsewhere. If the job is as a Mascot at an Amusement Park or Suck E. Cheese's, this will be a Goofy Suit. Can overlap with No OSHA Compliance if the job involves cooking and the costume limits visibility, ability to grasp objects or has a tail. If this isn't a dead trope in real life, its certainly dying as the mockery of this trope has led to such establishments not being taken seriously (the polo and khakis look a lot more professional.)

Interestingly, one way to determine if your work clothes are tax-deductible is "if you'd be embarrassed to go to the bar in them".


Examples:

Advertising

Anime and Manga
  • In Skip Beat!, the "Love Me" section of the LME talent agency is designed to let budding talents learn to love, but most of the time, they just end up doing menial tasks like cleaning an assistant work. The most infamous part of the section, however, is that members are forced to wear neon pink jumpsuits. At one point, Kyouko and Kanae even weaponize this by wearing their uniforms to an audition so that they stand out.

Comic Books
  • Archie Comics has done it: Jughead once had a job as a flower delivery man, and had to dress up in a yellow shirt, cape, and metal helmet with wings (think Hermes). His friends were amused; he was not.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter works at a fast-food where he has to wear a frog hat. Bobby (Iceman) later joins him behind the counter when Aunt May forbids them from using their powers in public.

Film
  • She's All That: The falafel restaurant where Laney works forces her to wear this sad, limp falafel on her head.
  • Office Space, the ultimate example for the employees of Chotchkies. Not only is the uniform a theme-restaurant-style suspender-and-striped-vest abomination, but you are required to cover it with obnoxious buttons called "flair." There's a minimum amount of flair each employee is required to wear, but the manager tries to browbeat employees to wear more of it.
  • In Max Keeble's Big Move, Max's dad, an advertiser, is forced to wear embarrassing costumes to secure clients. Embarrassing like a giant chicken.
  • In Better Off Dead, Lane had to wear a uniform that included a chef's hat with pig's ears with a matching nose.
  • In West Bank Story both the employees of Hummus Hut and Kosher King wear hats displaying the food they sell, and well...see for yourself. Also, Kosher King has a mascot, a man dressed as a giant menorah.
  • In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, after getting fired from Carl's Jr. for swearing at a customer, Brad takes a job down at a "Captain Kidd's Fish and Chips," where he has to wear a full pirate outfit with tricorner hat and even (his boss reminds him as leaves to make a delivery) a plastic sword.

Literature
  • In M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action the army of Possiltum is a madhouse—which isn't so exotic in itself—but it features a big insult added to the injury:
    The captain: Do you men know what an army that's growing as fast as ours needs the most?
    Nunzio: A better tailor.
  • In the Garrett, P.I. series, private security guards tend to dress in uniforms of clashing and/or unsightly colors, a fact that Garrett is quite happy to draw readers' attention to in his narration.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Counts' retainers wear liveries of their house colors. A few humorous remarks are made to the effect that it's just dandy if you come from a District where the first count had the seniority to reserve their colors early and get a plum combo like Black and Silver— but heaven help you if you're from a late-founded District (or your first count just had poor taste) and your colors are something like Mustard and Teal...

Live-Action TV
  • Family Matters: The Mighty Weenie has its workers don hats with hot dogs on them.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's uniform at Doublemeat Palace is garishly red-and-white-striped and includes a hat with a half cow, half chicken thing.
    • Xander's uniforms of all the jobs he worked after High School.
  • One episode of Brit Com The Worker starring Charlie Drake saw him forced to dress up as Daffodil Man in order to sell some product or other door-to-door.
  • The German soap opera Verbotene Liebe once had Christian hand out pamphlets dressed as a tree and saying, "Ho ho ho!" which is apparently some kind of onomonopoeic German tree noise...
  • Early on during Friends, Monica loses her job and after a few episodes of unemployment has no choice but to work at a 50's themed diner, where she has to wear a wig and Gag Boobs.
  • PJ's chicken uniform at Kwkki Cikki's in Good Luck Charlie.
  • Saturday Night Live Justin Timberlake as a rapping coffee cup competing for attention with a sidewalk Santa.
  • The fried chicken place that Kevin worked at in Mr. Belvedere had an headgear like this. However, they stopped having employees wear it when they made deliveries; it scared people.
  • Sue and (even more so) Brad's jobs at the mall food court in The Middle, as seen in "Vacation Days."
  • In the fourth season of Shameless (US), Mandy works at a tacky place called Waffle Cottage, complete with hideous uniform. The dark orange/beige dress and bright orange tights combo is bad enough, but what really seals it is the green baseball cap upon which perches a large, stuffed squirell. To quote her brother:
    Mickey: What the fuck does a squirell have to do with waffles, anyway?!

Video Games
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has the Burger Shot uniform, which includes a gigantic hamburger hat, and the Clucking Bell, a full-body chicken suit (the latter employee coming off as more disgruntled.)
  • Goth Boy suffers this in My Sims Agents, manning the Turkey on a Fork kiosk at the beach.
  • You can get one of these for a Side Quest in Bully. While man will mock you for the outfit, it's hard to tell from the general derision that's put on Jimmy.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • 6teen: Caitlin gets this worst; the Big Squeeze requires employees to wear half a lemon on their head.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Jeremy works at Mr. Slushy Burger, which requires him to wear a goofy little pink hat with a hot dog on it. Candace has gone through more than one mall job requiring a dopey outfit and/or hat. A particularly memorable one being a Perry outfit in "Toy to the World".
    Jeremy: The things they make us wear. At least you don't have a weiner on your head.
    • In the episode "Boyfriend from 27,000 B.C." Doofenshmirtz's hatred of guys wearing sandwich costumes causes him to build the Sandwich Suit Removeinator. (Though he doesn't mind the taco guy so much.)
  • Jimmy Neutron actually dressed up as a literal Burger Fool in "Men at Work"
    • The episode "Trading Faces" has a one liner about this. Even though we never see the characters actually wear the outfit, we do see the hat. It has a hot dog sticking out of each side like a pair of antlers:
    Jimmy (In Cindy's body): And uh, by the way, you start tomorrow at "Hank's Weenie Barn." Here's your weenie.
  • In "Girl of Steal" on My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny puts on a stupid hat for each job she has: fast food girl, toy shelf stocker and shoe salesbot. There's another cartoon where she wears a messenger outfit.
  • Virgil had a literal Burger Fool outfit too on Static Shock.
  • In Danny Phantom the job uniform at Nasty Burger is pretty low key, but the bug mascot is a humiliating outfit for the person who wears it.
  • Lenny and Boog, the two guys who work at the Frosty Mart on Fanboy and Chum Chum have low key outfits, but their hats have big Frosty Freezy Freezes on them.
  • On The Simpsons Barney had a job once where he was on the street handing out coupons for a baby store clad only in a diaper. In the middle of winter. Then the wind blew his diaper off. Then as he was chasing after it his mom showed up.
    • Another episode has Bart and Lisa open accounts at a bank where the tellers are dressed in gorilla costumes as part of a "going ape" promotion. Later in the same episode, they announce that their deals are "through the roof" and dress the tellers in house costumes with their heads sticking out of the roof.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants: Employees of the Krusty Krab normally just have a little sailor hat for a uniform, but the time Pearl took over and turned it into a hip teenage hangout, she had everyone wear pink leotards with K-shaped deely-bobs. Squidward found them thoroughly humiliating; SpongeBob, of course, loved them.
    • Spongebob was, however, humiliated when Pearl forced him to stand outside in a Crab mascot costume.
    • In another episode, Mr. Krabs starts selling hot dogs instead of Krabby Patties and forces Squidward to stand outside in a hot dog suit, so he decides to team up with SpongeBob to get Krabby Patties back on the menu. In the end, they succeed, only Squidward now has to wear a Krabby Patty suit to advertise the patties' return.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Robositter: The pink-colored uniforms Shake and Frylock have to wear at Slurp-a-Lunch.
  • Given an interesting twist in one episode of Doug. Making fun of the guy in the burger suit outside Honker Burger is pretty much a Bluffington tradition, but eventually Doug learns that it's his next-door neighbor Mr. Dink. In order to help out, Doug fills in for him and gains new respect for Dink after witnessing the "playful" teasing from the other end. He also gets people respect the "burger man" by saving some drowning kids thanks in part to the costume's buoyancy.
  • In the Disney series Hercules,Hercules's sheep uniform when he works in a restaurant.
  • In King of the Hill episode "Life in the Fast Lane", Bobby gets a food vendor job at the race track employed by jerkass idiot boss, Jimmy Wichard. While one kid refuses to wear a hot dog costume, Bobby is willing to wear it when trying to be more efficient. He gets pelted by spectators with food and drink cups.
  • In Stoked!, the waitresses in the resort dining room have to wear pirate wench outfits.
  • On Gravity Falls Dipper Pines takes this trope to the Logical Extreme in the episode "Boss Mabel", where he has to dress like a wolf-man and is forced to dance for tourists so his Gruncle Stan can make money.
  • In Mission Hill, after losing his job, Andy briefly has a job as a mascot for an ice cream shop, standing on a median on a busy street.
  • In Pinky and the Brain, they work at "Hotdog on a Hotdog" for a whole 2 minutes while wearing red, blue and yellow vertically striped shirts and hats. Kind of surprising that they had uniforms in their size.
  • Carl Squared had the pirate-themed Buccaneer Burger, were the employees had to dress in pirate outfits.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Peel of Fortune", Bugs has to take a job at an ice cream parlour where the uniform includes an ice cream cone hat.
  • On American Dad! Roger gets a job handing out coupons dressed a cup of juice. When he is assaulted by a competitor he moans "Why does everyone hate the juice?"
  • An episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had Bloo bring in what he thought was a lost imaginary friend. As it turned out, he was actually a guy in a cellphone costume promoting a nearby phone store.
  • Subverted in an episode of 'TaleSpin where Baloo and Kit voluntarily decided to dress in hot dog and pickle costumes to make money selling hot dogs at a parade. (Apparently, they didn't mind that at all; unfortunately, due to the villains' plan, they didn't manage to sell any.)
  • Peedee Fryman and the Frybo costume in Steven Universe. And if you thought Frybo was bad at first, wait until he turns evil.

Real Life
  • Do you have those 1-800-GOT-JUNK? people in your city? Chances are, you've seen them advertise by having employees dress up in blue jumpsuits and clown wigs and dance around busy intersections.
  • At tax time, you often see people standing out on street corners, waving to cars, dressed as Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam. A Maple Leaf, if you're in Canada.
  • In a similar vein, a guy dressed in a roach costume, extra arms and all, advertising a pest control service.
  • Southwestern U.S. has a chain called El Pollo Loco, a chicken joint whose advertisements are distributed by grown men in full-body yellow-feathered chicken costumes. Fun trivia: El Pollo Loco was Brad Pitt's first "acting" gig.
  • At least one pizza restaurant here in the Twin Cities had one employee dress up as Luigi and hold a sign for the restaurant. However since the girl doing it is a cosplayer she absolutely loved the job. The rest of her co-workers thought that doing it was this trope.
  • Any time a Halloween costume store opens up, chances are there'll be someone in one kind of costume or another dancing around with a sign out front.
  • Many "WE BUY GOLD!" places do this. One local place has someone waving a sign on a street corner wearing a gold leaf top hat, face paint, and suit.
  • Some Subway branches make employees stand on the street, dressed as sandwiches, holding a sign that points out the direction of the nearest shop. Even if there are three within a square mile.
  • Hot Dog On A Stick may have the worst genuine uniform, as opposed to publicity costume, ever.


The WatchmakerOccupation TropesBurger Fool
    Uniform TropesBling of War
Bad HabitsCostume TropesBandage Babe
Bad ImpressionistsComedy TropesBad Liar
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasImageSource/Video GamesGrand Theft Auto: Vice City

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