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Discovering tattoos mark more than just the skin

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Discovering tattoos mark more than just the skin

A still shot of MTV's footage of Larry working in a Manteca Jack in the Box.

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POSTED December 23, 2009 2:57 a.m.
For the most part, tattoos are permanent.

The hundreds of dollars that it costs to get a professional to place pigments under your outer layer of skin is not only painful, but it’s nearly impossible to reverse – unless you’ve got the thousands of dollars for multiple laser removal treatments that make the initial tattoo pains seem like a walk in the park.

And for a 21-year-old Manteca resident named Larry – who was featured on MTV’s “True Life: I Hate My Tattoos” – coming to grips with saying goodbye to those tattoos that he once loved was something he was just going to have to deal with.

On top of being in recovery for alcohol abuse, Larry (MTV doesn’t use the last names of the people they profile and a phone call to their office reaffirmed this policy) showed all who watched how hard it was to stay on the straight and narrow – opting for the pain of a tattoo only after he had several drinks coursing through his veins.

When it came to searching for a real-life job that he could be proud of, the tattoos that he had grown ashamed of proved to be his kryptonite.

During the hour-long MTV segment, Larry interviewed with a waitress at Kelley Brothers Brickyard Oven and was told that it was company policy that his tattoos must be covered up when he was on duty.

The thousands of dollars it costs to remove said tattoos also proved to be a problem.

And while the episode showed him working at a Manteca Jack In The Box, it was painstakingly clear that he was anything but happy with his current plight – hoping to one day be able to land a job that would allow him to move up the ladder and establish some sort of a career.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a rather large tattoo of my own on my left arm that wraps all the way around and will likely be expanded sometime in the near future. But rather than going above my shirt collar or down below my shirtsleeve, I choose to keep my tattoo covered up whenever possible because of the social stigma.

It would be nice to think that people don’t judge a book by its cover, but this MTV special showed that a local young man was facing first-glance prejudice by just about everybody he came in contact with while searching for a job.

Will he eventually be able to remove all of the tattoos that are scaring possible employers away from hiring him? It’s possible.

But for a 60-minute block, it was interesting to see somebody from right here in Manteca struggling to succeed because of choices he made while under the influence of alcohol – something that he has vowed to swear off in order to achieve his dreams.

I wish Larry the best of luck as he moves forward with his dreams.

Hopefully someday people will judge others based on their personality and their ability.

But until then, the painful process of tattoo removal is the only way to go.
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