Real Life Hawkeye Pierce and BJ

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This hub was inspired by another in which the author told about the practical jokes she played on a fellow teacher, as well as the carefully-worded repartee she employed to inject some humor into her workplace.

Her philosophy:

"Life -- and that includes work -- should not be all deeply serious, never smiling ."

Which just happens to be my philosophy too, and in a comment on that hub I shared that my introduction to fun in the workplace was as a twenty-something on the Obstetrics unit of a teaching hospital in the Midwest which shall remain nameless (for reasons which will become obvious) where the two Residents on our floor were real-life versions of M*A*S*H's Hawkeye Pierce and B.J. Hunnicutt.

The hospital administrator ignored their pranks and practical jokes for the same reason that Col. Sherman Potter did. In a crunch, they were all business. The cream of the crop. Totally professional in an operating room.

Slow times were a different matter...

Like when they rolled that med student who'd fallen asleep on a gurney in the hallway into a delivery room...

Afterward, the poor fellow blubbered that he'd never forget the horror of waking up with his legs in stirrups and the gowned and gloved Dasterdly Duo gleefully holding episiotomy scissors above his private parts.

A bit too gleefully, actually...

For the record, such pranks only occurred during slow times. Other than the ER (Emergency Room), chaos is not a constant in a hospital, even in a teaching hospital. In reality there are plenty of calms between storms, and our floor just happened to have a "Hawkeye" and a "B.J." to entertain (and corrupt) us when things were slow.

One example of their idea of fun...

Fill a surgical glove with water and tie off. Toss like a football to each other from opposite ends of the long hall outside patients' rooms.

To make it really interesting, fill several gloves and toss back and forth at the same time.

Assume no one will walk out of said rooms while any "ball" is in flight. (Miraculously, no one ever did that I know of.)

When that loses its charm, fill 20-gauge hypodermic needles - the ones the size of tent poles - with water and play "G.I. Joe" around the nurses station, using the counter for cover.

(I brought THAT game to a screeching halt one afternoon when "Hawkeye" ducked into the powder room behind the desk and started to refill his "weapon" from the toilet...)

Another boredom-buster...

Stuff a water-filled glove into one of the pneumatic tubes used to send lab reports and such throughout the hospital in pre-computer days (like the ones still used at bank drive-throughs) and then route it to Medical Records in the basement seven floors below. Down where the tubes dropped 6 feet or more from the ceiling into a wire basket on a table.

To my knowledge, no one ever clocked the velocity of a weighted tube at the time it shot out of Med Recs' ceiling.

I do know, however, that the latch never failed to open as it hit the basket on the table, and that water balloons do explode on impact.

Not from personally observing such events, mind you, but from the calls of protest from Med Recs personnel who had observed them.

Of course I'd pretend to know nothing about a water bomb when they called. How could the caller possibly think it came from our floor, I'd ask ever so innocently.

"Because "Hawkeye" and "B.J." [or less flattering names, depending on the level of rage] are on duty!" was the standard reply.

To throw them off, the Daring Duo would sometimes sneak down to the fifth floor to launch a water bomb in a tube. Didn't matter. One guess as to who Med Recs called to rant about the latest drenching.

Did I mention the food fights?

Our floor had laid claim to a table for ten in an alcove separate from the rest of the cafeteria. Well, not so much "laid claim" as "been relegated to" to avoid being barred altogether for "disruptive behavior". Or more specifically, food fights.

One day a lass of twenty or so, obviously "not from around here" or she would've known better, sat down mid-table and without a single utterance to any of us, tucked into her lunch.

Nor did we speak to her, so surprised were we to be invaded by a civilian. Usually the sight of us gulping coffee from specimen cups repulsed civilians enough that they quickly moved far, far away.

Unfortunately for the innocent young thing in our midst, mashed potatoes were on the menu that day. Pretty soon a spoonful sailed across the table, launched by the staff person next to her. Naturally, this volley had to be answered in kind...and for the record, if the girl hadn't been sitting right next to the intended target of the second blob, she would've escaped unscathed.

As it was, that ball of mashed potato missed its mark, hit her square in the left eye instead, then fell off, taking every bit of blue eye shadow and most of the mascara on that eye with it.

Mashed potatoes as eye makeup remover? Who knew!

She, of course, made a hasty exit, having no idea...yet ...that one eye was now totally naked.

Yes, we acted like children whenever we had the chance.

In our defense (and the defense of anyone whose job involves life and death situations on a daily basis), being silly and playing practical jokes during quiet times breaks the tension and relieves the stress that could otherwise impair the ability to think clearly and perform one's duties correctly in a crunch.

So what happened to our real life "Hawkeye" and "B.J."?

I googled them recently and both are still practicing medicine, but in different parts of the country.

A pity...or maybe not.

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Comments 48 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

I'm laughing and with you all the way on lightening things up at work-- thanks for a fabulous, entertaining read

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

So you were always a child then, Child :-))

Glad to see you back at last. I miiiiiiised you ! :-))

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 6 years ago from London


I'm inclined to think that blue eyeshadow is the sort of crime against fashion that deserves mashed spuds in the face.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

robie2, happy I could brighten your day!

DG, in your honor I may just go over to the park and ride the kiddie train. :-))

LG, I'm with you on the blue eye shadow! ;D

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

JG - your hub is a shining example of my credo: "He who laughs . . . lasts! Thank you, thank you.

Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

JG let me just say I am shocked and appalled at what I have just read. To sully the halls of such a venerated and life preserving institution with such immature behaviour....excuse me for a second, there was not enough water in the toilet to fill my water balloon, just need to flush...ok where was I, oh yes, to think the noble Hippocrates oath to do no harm and to save lives.... =:)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Winsome, no medical records were harmed in the execution of our pranks, only the dignity of those whose job it was to keep them out of harm's way...and who manned the mop to clean up our "gift". We even suggested they replace the wire basket with a kiddie pool, but it was decided doing so would be an invitation to send enough water balloons at one time to fill it. Knowing the Daring Duo, that's exactly what would've happened. lol!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

Hooray, hooray for humor! I loved it and wish I could have known B.J. and Hawkeye. Thanks for putting a plug in for my hub.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Reminds me of some of the antics that went on in our newsroom at The Hour newspaper. Unfortunately, the publisher was not very understanding about it. Thumbs up!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

mysterylady, you're most welcome!

Bill, I don't doubt that sort of thing went on in a newsroom, what with people under pressure to meet a deadline!

Dardia profile image

Dardia 6 years ago from Michigan

That sounds like the house I grew up in. :) It would have been fun to have such equipment at our disposal.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Sounds fun. Back in the days when we first started work people used to have fun. Now everything at work seems very serious. :( You are right - there needs to be a way to let off steam, especially in a very serious job.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

2pats, back in the days when people cold have fun at work, their input for improving the product or services was welcomed, even encouraged. Now employees are supposed to be quasi robots, only able to think enough to do the j-o-b, but not well enough to question processes or policies (or they risk being fired if they do). The current disaster in the Gulf is a perfect example of ignoring the observations of those too low on the totem pole t be heard.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

Hi JamaGenee! Very funny stuff. Sure sounds like they created some fun. Did people actually refer to them as Hawkeye and B.J.? I agree with you about relieving the tension in such a life and death atmosphere. Very fun post!!!!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thank you, Christoph! Long time no see. (My fault, not yours.) No, we didn't refer to them as Hawkeye and B.J., but I didn't dare use real names here in case their current private practice patients have *no* idea what characters they were back then! ;D

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

bravo an excellent hub, bookmarked and delighted, I didn't know about these people.

jennyjenny profile image

jennyjenny 6 years ago from Somewhere in Michigan

What a great hub! I also enjoy working with a few Hawkeyes & B.J.'s. :) You just never know what will happen next! I can't wait to read more of your hubs!

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

I just added a link to this hub of yours on my latest hub about chivalry, M&M's and a toilet. It works! You might like to check out my hub.

Tammy L profile image

Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

Very funny stuff. Did they emulate any of the gags on the tv show?

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Not that anyone could recall, Tammy, but then they were in a modern teaching hospital, which lent itself to a different brand of chicanery and high jinks. ;D

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Came here from Myaterylady's wonderful Hub - and I'm really glad I did. This was fun! Loved it. Thanks for the sharing.

Love and peace


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're most welcome, tonymac...glad I could brighten your day!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago

JUST LOVE THIS! LOL!! The prank on the resident who fell asleep was just too awesome. God, I miss residents sometimes...they are just such wonderful targets. Sounds like more than a few places I've landed. Night shift always involved more pranking. You're just so loopy. I mean you pull it together when it counts, but for the most part you're a pranking zombie, at least if you're like me anyway. Thanks!!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're welcome! I was always amazed, too, at how fast everybody could snap to in a crisis and do everything RIGHT. I should mention I'm a little bit psychic, so I was always a step ahead of the rest. Like one "slow" night toward the end of the shift, I started assembling blank charts. The charge nurse said "Oh, crap", we're about to get slammed!"...and we did. Four ladies near crowning came up from the ER one right after the other and 3 high-risks from the floor went into labor all at once, one of which had to have an emergency c-section. Was a wild two hours!

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Working in a hospital I saw some strange sights. You do need a sense of humour and the ability to see yourself in a funny light also

Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington


Okay, I'll lower my thumbs and use the space bar!

Even though "Scrubs" is set in a teaching hospital, "M*A*S*H" had better characters!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks! (Or is it doublethanks...?) I agree with you about "Scrubs". I watched it once but can't make myself watch it again! If there's absolutely noting else on, I'll hit the "Off" button! ;D

Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

I have to admit to watching a few episodes of "Scrubs" just so I could stay on my "bippy" a bit longer. "M*A*S*H," though, is great satire, whereas "Scrubs" is mediocre farce.

Anyway, I'll be back later. I need to get off my bippy so I'm ready to ride my motorcycle with my daughter when she gets back from Texas next weekend!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Glad I learned and shared the definition of "bippy". The standard "a$$" is soooooo last century. Have a great time with your daughter! ;D

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Ah yes, it's great to think that i'm not the only idiot in town. Work can be pretty boring at times. I reckon there's a little B J and Hawkeye in all of us, if only we allow them out once in a while. Funny stuff Jama Cheers.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, attempted! Cube farms (customer service phone centers) are one place that need to lighten up in more appropriate ways. Reps who get silly with customers are chastised and told to be more "serious and professional" - never mind those same reps get highest marks for "enjoyable experience" from their customers - but require all reps attend "how to have fun at work" seminars in the break room a couple of times a week. Makes no sense to me, either. ;D

attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

They just want you to make cents, not sense. It does sound very contradictory though. Cheers

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

My thought, too, on both counts!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, ha ha this was so funny! loved the one about the maternity! as you said though, in a job like that, you have to have humour to relieve the tension! great stuff! cheers nell

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Hi was awesome! I'm trying to envision my next trip to Bank of America including a surgical glove filled water... This was a great story!! Voted Up, funny and awesome!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

TS, although I've never acted on it, the thought of sending a water-filled surgical glove through the tube at a bank drive-up window HAS occurred to me...several times. ;D

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I did not experience highjinks like the ones you mentioned but DID hear the BEST JOKES each and every day when I was working in the operating room. Those docs in orthopedics were the best!

Loved reading this! Really funny!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

If you worked in an OR, then no doubt you DID hear THE best jokes in the world! My best friend was an OR Tech and each day after work, she'd regale us with the funnies she heard that day. btw, I have all the respect in the world for those who can stand at an operating table for hours on end. I know I couldn't. ;D

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

Hilarious. Practical jokes are among my favorite kind. My mother was not so amused the day I, as a pre-teen, thought a good April Fool's prank would be to replace the contents of the sugar bowl with salt. Funny, she didn't much care for her coffee that morning... ;-) MOI? A Prankster? Nah, not much. ;-)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Liz, it sounds like you would've fit right in with the whacky crew at the Med Center! ;-} I'm still amazed that our pranks didn't kill anybody and none of us got fired for "insubordination"! That said, thank you very much for the reminder that I had a deprived childhood. My parents drank their coffee black, so I was denied the "opportunity" to switch the sugar for salt. Sigh... Same for vaseline on the toilet seat and other practical jokes which should be an integral part of every childhood. ;D

OhMe profile image

OhMe 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

My husband enjoys telling of pranks they played in medical school so I am sure he will enjoy reading this, too. I will be sure to share it with him.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

OhMe, med school is so stressful that I'd be surprised if anyone could survive it without indulging in pranks of one sort or another! (Same for anyone working a hospital attached to a med school.)

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a delightful comment, but with apologies in advance if sharing this hub with your husband "inspires" him to launch into yet another recitation of his own pranks. ;D

klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Hi Joanna. This sounded like incredible fun. It had to be a huge stress reliever for everyone as well. Humour is very therapeutic...great to see the administrators agreed. Take care. Kim

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@klidstone: Yes, Kim, humor IS a great stress reliever AND very therapeutic as well as incredible fun. A pity ALL workplaces aren't like that. Rates for heart disease and other stress-related illnesses would drop dramatically if they were. ;D

Erin Mellor profile image

Erin Mellor 2 years ago from Europe

My step-grandparents met at a field hospital in Normandy during WWII. I thought their memories would be horrible, but when they talked of those times they talked of the fun they had as young people on an adventure. Whilst they saw some terrible things and had huge amounts of responsibility at a very young age, it was the silliness and friendship they talked about (as well as how much it rains in Europe).

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@Erin Mellor, thank you for your delightful comment and for sharing how your step-grandparents remembered their experiences in WWII! Good for them! Remembering the good times in otherwise horrific circumstances seems to be the mind's way of protecting us from memories too painful to process.

As for the rain in Europe, the war itself may have caused a lot of the rain your step-grandparents had tp put up with. There's a theory that the percussive intensity of modern-day weapons (as opposed to bows and arrows and swords) "excites" the atmosphere above the site of battles, which causes clouds to form that produce rain! This correlation was first noticed after a particularly long and intense battle in the (American) Civil War that lasted for several days followed by several days of steady downpours.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

I love to see how people relieve stress and just have fun when in a job that's so darn stressful! I remember my mum when she was in the airforce back in world war two, some of those pranks were amazing, but they kept them sane!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Hey, Nell! Yes, pranks were a good way to relieve stress in wartime (or war zones). If memory serves, some were ingenious enough to be expanded on as ways to thwart (or at least irritate) enemy forces! Churchill's infamous "toy shop" comes to mind. Thanks for stopping by! ;D

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