11 February 2009

Wearing the Uniform

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.


artandsoul said...

You make me miss it, and I never had it!

Renee said...


You teach me so much, because this is so true, but I never ever gave it a thought.

Love Renee

Isonomist said...

Funny, I never cared for that kind of thing-- maybe the introvert in me. Nowadays though, I don't mind belonging to some groups. Just never only one, and never all the time. Part of being brought up by my Creole mother in the outback of Ohio?

Catnapping said...

i think this is mostly addressed to iso:

humans are social animals. it's how we've survived as a species. and unless raised in dysfunction, we're happiest belonging to a some group or another. full participation...even if only for short periods...that's what makes fully-healthy human beings less stressed.

[what follows is just my opinion]

sadly, many of our cultures haven't been healthy for a very long time. for example, here in the USA, we're taught that the individual is more important than the family or clan. abrahamic, authoritarian religions and capitalism have seen to that.

alcoholism...pedophilia...violence...our culture lives for this stuff now. (men like to say they abhor pedophiles, and yet it is they who control our judicial system, one that allows pedophiles to roam our streets; it is they who control our tv and magazine ads...which celebrate prepubescent bodies; and it is they who exploit young girls, sexualizing them long before they're ready (i mean, have you seen the crap they market to little girls, these days???).

all for profit.

personally, i'm mixed on group v. loner...i don't socialize much, but when i've worked in groups...like the military or nursing, i've excelled - found myself delighted to participate, to contribute.

but for the job, only...that's probably why i prefer shoptalk to small talk.

i think i might be looking for the work, 'dichotomy.'

i was socialized in the military...raised watching men, all wearing the same uniform, working in teams, one big fucking team. and at the same time, i was raised in a severely dysfunctional family...not as bad as some, but soooo very not healthy...and children raised in such an environment aren't given the proper skills to ever be truly comfortable in social settings.

[/just my opinion]

renee and art: i talk too much!

studio lolo said...

My husband and his schoolmates had their own language back in the early seventies. Do you know that the kids in that town are speaking it? It's hilarious, but it also tickles him no end.

I made the grade when I understood his lingo from day one. I still use it as if I went to high school with him even though we were in our twenties when we met and thirties when we married.

Being in some kind of group like that can be comforting. I like those harmless groups.

And I don't think you talk too much. I just think you have a lot to say and I personally love it!


artandsoul said...

I don't think you talk too much. I agree with a lot of what you say - especially that we're social animals in some fundamental respect.

Although I'd have to say that it has only been on very rare occasions that I felt "a part of" a group or tribe.

Very rare.