i have half of a set of scrubs. i have a scrub? i have scrub pants; i found them on the giveaway table when i worked at ye olde ladymag, where i imagine the photo department abandoned them after a shoot for a health story. they floated around in our closet until i started volunteering at the bird hospital; i showed up in street clothes for exactly one shift, was shat and puked upon with gusto, and remembered them. sort-of-hoarding is the best! i wear them with old crew tees from the tribeca film festival, a pairing so automatic at this point that i'm always surprised when people want to talk movies with me in the underground treatment room. i also tend to forget that my scrubs aren't volunteer-colored (staffers and rehabbers wear navy, while most volunteers wear shared sets of lime green scrubs or their own clothes; my pants are royal blue, neither here nor there) and jump each time newbies introduce themselves and ask me for tasks. A, a staffer i've now known for a few years, asked me if i needed another volunteer's help as i tube-fed pigeons yesterday afternoon. no, i said, i was cool with doing it on my own, but thank you. would i be okay with help, though? she wanted to give the new guy a job. sure, i said, he could weigh my pigeons. i will admit i made it through the BIDs and SIDs faster with his help.
an hour or two later, i held a fat little red hen as A unwrapped her for a bandage change. she wriggled as we poked at her bumble foot; "hold her like a baby," A instructed. "she'll calm down, sort of like sharks do."* i had to think about that for a minute; ah yes, in the crook of my arm, on her back. "i think i've held more chickens than babies," i said.
scrubs are the best, is my point, though i would never wear them anywhere other than at the bird hospital, nor would i turn them inside out and wear them a second time before washing them, even though they have a butt pocket on the inside, too; i know where those scrubs have been. when i arrived for yesterday's shift in a marinière and jeans, a vet and a staffer were installing shelves in the bathroom (which doubles as the changing room). i ended up turning away from columbus avenue and ducking into my tribeca tee under the picture window of our second storefront, still under construction, and wriggling into my scrubs on the floor when foot traffic on the sidewalk thinned for a moment (i tried not to meet anyone's eyes). it was worth it. i love those pants.
*my friend phil just finished a two-year stint working with sharks in the bahamas; one of his fellow dive pros was so good at inducing tonic immobility that he could balance sharks' snouts on his own face.