Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Recently, a memo circulated in my office. Essentially, writ in black and white among other dress code rules this new addendum, "Direct Care Staff need to wear panty hose or socks."

Being of the "don't ask, don't tell" persuasion, I decided that a chaplain did not qualify as "direct care staff." I decided that I was instead, indirect care. Yeah. I don't directly come right out and say, "So, you gonna get to heaven?" Nor do I directly administer morphine or Ativan from my own hands. I don't directly change adult diapers. And due to my inherited directional disability in driving, I often don't even drive directly to the patient's home with out getting lost. I am, however, an expert in justification. And so, my direct care directives for myself were satisfying, um...well, me. I figured if my bosses didn't like my indirectly satisfying personal code of dress (a code of honor of sorts, if not indirectly), then they could talk to me about it directly. And again, you know, the Bill Clinton approach would be followed, "Don't ask if I'm direct staff, and I won't confess to being direct either." Sort of an indirect way of handing it, I'd say (proof, once more, that I am indeed indirect).

I noticed that others seemed to be following my philosophy. And all was well and good in the world of hospice care, as we wore our professional long skirts with bare legs and attractive leather slide-back shoes or penny loafers or pumps (God forbid, no open toes, as that is verbotten as well). It was if we all had an indirect secret. But no one was talking about it.

And, wouldn't you know...someone brought it up in a staff meeting with those at the top. Someone who shall remain nameless, but who, would probably be more of a direct type person.

And all hell broke loose. Boss-type people disagreeing about appropriate dress. Human resource type people throwing their hands up in the air and sighing in exasperation. Nurses and social workers feeling that direct care staff was being discriminated against. One worker saying she felt like, and I quote, "a clown in my white socks." A clown, friends! Something had to be done. And that had to be done by someone with an English major. For the something which had to be done, had to be done in writing, nay, not just in writing, but in a MEMO.

And a self-proclaimed savior and prophet rose from their midst, a hero of the people, an unwitting observer who was minding her own business, oh so indirectly, but who heard the cries of her people and realized that this was about justice...this was for a cause, and she could never walk away from a cause, especially when that cause related to sticky pantyhose in 90 degree heat.

And it came to pass that a letter was written, by someone who shall remain nameless. And it was respectful. And it used quotes like, "Perhaps the managerial team might consider..." and "I recognize that there may be objections, of which I am not aware to having bare legs."

The letter was delivered to the human resources office. An uprising has begun. Justice will be done. I'll keep you posted on the movement, indirectly of course.

I can tell you that as I walked out of the office this afternoon our human resources director, who was wearing pantyhose, whispered, "Rebel!" when I walked past her. I turned to her and winked (although perhaps the black power gesture would have been more appropriate? No, too direct...).

Sometimes you just have to kick the dust off your feet as you leave, even if you're only leaving for a half hour to ride over to Office Depot for a new ink cartridge.

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