But not all symbols are as innocent. Adolf Hitler was attracted to the Norse runes and a number of them were incorporated into his Nazi regimen. The best known were the twin Sigs of the Schutzstaffel, the feared SS. The Swastika itself originated in Sanskritwhere it meant “well being”. It was converted by the Nazis into a despised symbol of hatred.
Tattoos often sometimes have meaning. I once saw a guy with WOFTAM tattooed on his bicep. I knew what it meant but wondered why he chose to wear it. It was the acronym for his touch football team and declared that they were a Waste Of Freaking Time And Money.
But the tattoo I wanted to talk about, and the reason I wrote this post, relates back to my opening paragraph. Sometimes it’s better not to ask. I was working with a former English seaman who had a Chinese character tattooed on the back of his hand. Innocently, I asked, “What does that mean?” And, as quick as a mongoose seizing a cobra, he said, “Will you buy me a beer?”
Of course I did, and he gleefully admitted that he’d had far more value in free beers than he had paid to have the tattoo done in the first place.