(wo)men in uniform

Andrew Justus

With the passing of CBS’ 60 Minutes personality Andy Rooney this weekend, the journalism community lost one of its great personalities.

After working for the Army’s newspaper, Stars and Stripes, in World War II and writing for a few television shows after the war. Rooney began his work as an essayist for CBS in the mid 60’s, a job he continued until last month.

In his time as an essayist Rooney was known to offer his thoughts on a variety of topics ranging from his opposition of the Vietnam Conflict to the contents in his desk drawers.

In his spirit, I will diverge from my insightful and oft correct political commentary and focus on something a bit more obscure.

Have you ever seen a mailman or a bus driver and thought they looked a little sloppy? Sure they tuck their shirts in and wear their uniforms, but the sense of pride in that uniform seems to be lacking. Save for the famous rhyming-route 50 driver, none of the Rapid drivers I see seem to wear more than the bare minimum required by their uniforms. Letter carriers, on the other hand, can get away with wearing no uniform at all.

My mail-woman last year at Campus View often stepped out of her U.S. Postal Service truck wearing jeans and a random sweatshirt. I often thought, “I could hop in that truck and nobody would know I didn’t work for the post office.” But alas, I was too chicken to ever pull such a stunt.

On a trip to Europe last Christmas, I was impressed with how bus drivers, letter carriers and even the men who swept the streets all had spotless and wrinkle free uniforms. Every bus driver had a crisp shirt and a tie, tied with more precision than most men I know can muster on a good day. As for the army of men sweeping the streets of Madrid, their white collared shirts and bright yellow jackets looked unnaturally clean for their profession.

Back to America, I was visiting my 80-year-old barber recently when I asked him about this topic. Offering his wealth of knowledge, he said, “I had a friend who was a postman… his wife would iron his shirt every day before going on his route.” While his story hailed from close to 60 years ago, it sure would be nice if some of that pride in appearance would make a comeback.

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