Loving a uniform

There’s something about most of us that loves a uniform. Whether we wear it or see it on somebody else. And there is something about conformity. Most of us love it.

Maybe you disagree.

Well, then, imagine the Yankees taking the field in slacks tonight. Wearing various tops. Maybe a few Hawaiian shirts. And floppy sun hats.

There wouldn’t be enough pages in the morning newspapers to cover the story. “BREAKING NEWS ALERT!” would rip into your favorite TV show. Hall of Famers would rail against this disrespect. Children would weep. The President would weigh in. The markets would crash. Mudville would mourn.

Okay, that is an example in the extreme. So I invite you to consider something milder. Imagine one Yankee who dons a Hawaiian shirt in the sixth inning. Or wears a purple hat. Or sports green socks.

The Yanks wouldn’t let him play. The Baseball Commissioner would humph and grumph. Baseball writers would tell us the guy has trashed his chances for the Hall of Fame. All because he insisted on wearing green socks!

He might draw down $25 million a year. He might drive in 120 runs and slam 50 homers a season. He can do it all wearin’ a Richard Simmons shirt. But if he tries it he’ll sit on the bench. That’s how much we like uniforms and conformity.

(My father managed our town-team ball club one season. He wore uniform trousers with a pin-striped shirt and wing-tip shoes. I couldn’t show my face around town for weeks.)

Imagine a general appearing sans medals and ribbons and stripes and medallions and scrambled eggs on the bill of his hat. And don’t forget the epaulets! He would feel naked.

The guy may be commanding a million troops. He may control a $200 billion budget. But he won’t go to bed without snapping into his be-medalled jammies. He dare not appear before Congress without ten strips of ribbons ablaze on his chest. (This one, Senator? Why, it was for appearing under fire before this committee last year.)

Where would the Pope and church hierarchy be without their uniforms? Their skullcaps and surplices. Their cassocks and slippers. Their robes of splendor. Indeed, their Roman collars.

We have all grown accustomed to the uniforms. We expect them. We demand them. Derek Jeter, you put that sombrero away! We are not going to accept a supreme court judge in Bermuda shorts. The cop who pulls you over wearing jeans and polo shirt will have to write you up for laughing at him.

I must admit we have allowed a lot of uniforms to die off. If you are old you remember when every nurse wore a white dress. Every doctor wore a tie, often a jacket. A professor would only be seen in sports jacket and tie. Leather patches on elbows part of that uniform. Nuns were only nuns if they wore drapery.

Most lawyers still wear suits or the female equivalent. Most bankers the same. We are not upset, however, when other business types dress casually. Out of uniform in the eyes of older folks.

Not so when we check into a fancy hotel in the big city. The guy who mans the door better look like a Sigmund Romberg character. And we would never trust the one who grabs our bags if he wore sweatpants and tee-shirt.

From bus drivers to firemen to meter maids, we want ‘em in uniform. And the bigger the job, the more absurd the uniform.

From Tom...as in Morgan.

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