Real Life Hawkeye Pierce and BJ
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.
"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...)
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.
- More about M*A*S*H (the TV series) at Wikipedia
Series history and cast list.
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.