One local dealership is having trouble retaining employees as an unusually enthusiastic promotion causes unrest on the sales floor. It started several months ago when Troy Davies, sales manager at Certified Pre-Owned Ford F-150 dealer, Dave’s Discount Auto, took it upon himself to decorate the lot for the busy holiday season. The decorations included the yuletide standards: garland, lights, tinsel, and even a small tree, but it was Davies’ costume that really started turning heads. Eschewing the tried-and-true Santa outfit, Davies opted for a deeper cut, arriving at the dealership in a full-body reindeer costume. This wasn’t your garden variety Spirit Halloween affair; it was more like the incredibly detailed, heavyweight garb one might find on a sports mascot or Disney park character.
“That’s when I started to get suspicious. Troy is always harping on us about cutting costs, and then he charges one of those fursuits to his company card? My little sister worked at Epcot in college, and I can tell you: those aren’t cheap,” says Meredith Bratton, financing specialist at Discount Dave’s. “Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and they don’t even celebrate Christmas.”
No one thought much of Davies’ unusual holiday mirth until the week after Christmas when the sales manager kept arriving to work in the cartoon-ish reindeer getup. With the plastic tree back in storage and the poinsettias in various states of decay, the moment had clearly passed, but there was no telling Davies that. It was around then his coworkers began to suspect the worst. It wasn’t mental illness, a midlife crisis, or an ill-advised attempt to seem hip: Troy had gone full furry.
For the (blessedly) uninitiated, furries are members of a subculture focused around dressing up as anthropomorphic animal characters. These animal avatars or “fursonas” are distinguished by their elaborate full-body costumes, which can cost anywhere between $500 and $10,000. An active contemporary subculture, furries often gather at conventions, events, and in online communities where they participate in roleplaying games, make and trade furry-related crafts, probably do sex stuff, and just generally creep everyone the hell out.
“At first, I thought it was just a sex thing which like, that’s fine, whatever floats your boat. But the fact that it’s more than that makes it so, so much worse somehow,” says Bratton. “I like to think I’m pretty open-minded, but if that man drops one more slobbery tennis ball at my feet, I’m out.”
Management made a half-hearted attempt to legislate around the issue, posting a new dress code effective January 1st, but the staff’s fears were confirmed on New Year’s day when Davies arrived to work not in the reindeer outfit but a brand-new, 6-foot tall Dalmatian costume. The sales manager tried to split the difference, donning his fursuit under the company-mandated polo shirt and khakis, but the effect was deeply unsettling.
“On top of everything else, it’s really hurting our sales figures. Last week we had a customer who was speaking to Troy for a good five minutes before she realized he was out to lunch, and she was talking to a costume hung up on its stand,” says Mark “Dave” Killmier of Dave’s Discount Auto. “Don’t get me wrong, Troy is a fantastic manager, but we’re definitely going to have to skip the petting zoo at this year’s company picnic.”
While a number of employees have quit due to the incident, Bratton isn’t giving up so easily. She’s been in contact with OSHA, hoping the agency will Davies’ culpability in creating an unsafe working environment. “It’s not just the general creepiness either. That tail is a real tripping hazard,” says Bratton.
Davies hopes that furries will one day receive the same protected status as other marginalized groups, though he might not actually be around to see it. “I told him that if he described something as “pawsome” one more time, I was going to drive him to the SPCA and leave him there,” says Bratton.