So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and I had been admitted into the BHSU College of Nursing. I had moved on from Da City’s EMF (“The ‘Mergency Muthafuggers!”, as we had been so colorfully denominated on so many occasions), and was nursing in the ED of one of the nearly dozen small (at that time, around 300 beds) hospitals dotting Da City. I went from being chief steward of the union representing the medics, to a staff peon working nights.
Another of the nurses working with me was also pursuing her BSN, and so we study buddied up. We both had been old schooled in The Wisdom Of The Student, as so found ourselves in the rear 1/3 of this cavernous several hundred seat lecture hall, where the Blue Hive State University held it’s class on “Transitions in Nursing”. This was aimed at those of us entering the BSN program. The instructor of this particular class appeared enamored of Florence Nightingale, the Victorian English woman whose work caring for wounded and ill British soldiers in The Crimean War laid the foundation of contemporary Nursing.
This infatuation was reflected as this instructor read to us all from a book of Nightingale’s life. Amusingly, from time to time, she (the instructor) would hold the book above her head, turned towards us so that we could “see” some illustration or another, and detail the citation accompanying the illustration. (“Did you bring your binoculars?”)
From our seats, some 50 or more meters away, this was not as informative as our instructor appeared to consider it.
Once she had exhausted her store of Florence Nightingale trivia, she (the instructor, not Ms. Nightingale) moved on to instruct us in the advantages to be found in group efforts to improve the workplace. She described these efforts as “engendering collectivity” (and, do we not all wonder if, forty years later, in The Enlightened Twenty First Century, if the Thought Police would allow any of us to speak in those terms?), and appeared to believe that this was an unmitigated Good! Thing!.
Let me follow a tangent, if you please, for a brief intermission. I had mentioned that I had been a steward for the union representing Da City’s EMS. Interestingly, my father in his own youthful years, had had a hand in the formation of the American Newspaper Guild, which was a union for (surprisingly) newspaper folks.
So, I kinda grew up steeped in old school, Democrat political world view (think Scoop Jackson and Jack Kennedy, Not Occasio Cortez or Gavin Newsome), including the value to be found in an organized workplace. In that world view was the “real politik” perspective of the cost paid by the organizers initially struggling to create that organization. Examples such as The Fight Of The Overpass as the UAW attempted to unionize the Ford Motor Rouge Plant, or the Homestead Steel Strike, and other struggles as folks attempted to start, and foster, unions, including organizers being blackballed, being intimidated or outright assaulted.
So, as the instructor droned about “engendering collectivity in the workplace”, I eventually let my boyish enthusiasm overcome my naturally shy nature.
I raised my hand, was called upon, and stood. “Ma’am, I was a steward for the union representing EMS in Da City. My father helped organize the American Newspaper Guild. In the professional labor circles with which I am acquainted, we have a technical term for those who seek to engender collectivity in a previously unorganized workplace. That term, is ‘unemployed’.”
I sat down. Oddly enough, I was never again called upon, for the balance of that semester!