I looked up from my lunch today, and watched four folks come in wearing blaze orange vests, reflection tape, and tan redwing boots. I had no idea who they worked for or what they did for a living. But clearly, they worked together. They were a unit.
I remember what that feels like, sitting with friends, sharing a goal, sharing a purpose, wearing the uniform.
Cammies, scrubs, corporate smocks with a name tag, it doesn't much matter as long as you match - cohesion under the guide-on, wearing the colours, prayer cloths offered to the gods of Purpose.
And shoptalk. I loved it. Lunch at the mess hall, margaritas at the O-club, slouching around the hospital cafeteria, eating hot pizza after a particularly long day in the OR. It didn't matter if we were debating dexon v. chromic, reciting stock numbers, or suggesting new DD acronyms. We shared jargon, spoke in our own secret language, comprehended by club members only.
It's funny to think back on it. I don't know that it occured to any of us that our language might be regarded as exclusive. But thinking on it now, I see it as part of the uniform - as important as the nametag, the strings dangling from a spent OR mask, or the subdued rank on one's collar.
I miss that.