Saying Goodbye To An Old Plastic Friend

Speaking of icons in veterinary medicine…how’s this for one?

My first job as a veterinarian was in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Andrew Morrow was my boss. Being from the “old school” I knew how to dress, as we wore ties to class every day for the first three years at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, before switching to scrubs for our clinical year.

What I didn’t have, though, was a proper jacket to wear in the examination rooms.

Deep Navy blue, this was my first-ever examination room jacket.
Deep Navy blue, this was my first-ever examination room jacket.

I went to a uniform shop and picked out a nice, white one. I couldn’t afford monogramming, so I purchased a name tag.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that white wasn’t the color for a neophyte doctor who was working with dogs and cats all day and didn’t know how to keep himself free from the dirt his patients sought to cover him with.

Furthermore, the only style of identifying tags in the 80s used pins for attachment, and the 50/50 cotton/polyester blend soon showed the toll of the holes in the fabric.

I also learned that my ink pen’s travel in and out of my pocket hundreds of times each day could be very time-consuming if it took two hands (one to hold the breast pocket and one to insert the pen).

That combination of discoveries took me back to the uniform shop, where the proprietor became very amused at my insistence that I have a jacket with material capable of allowing one-hand pen insertion.

I ended up at Sears, of all places, and purchased two blue nylon jackets. The “plastic” fabric was virtually impervious to dirt and stains. Thirty years and untold numbers of washings later, they still look pretty good.

I’ve kept them all these years, using them when I didn’t want to get my nicer jackets messed up. Spill iodine-based disinfectants, blood, pus, dirt, anything you like on them and it washes right out.

Alas, the zipper on one of them has finally given up, and I must retire it.

While I hate to let it go, I’m not the type to hang on to the unusable.

Besides, I still have the other one!

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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