You might think it’d be difficult, but it’s really not. Look for the person who’s going around replenishing all the ice trays that hold the potato salad and coleslaw. What? You didn’t get ice trays to put under your bowls of perishable, mayonnaise-containing food? Then look for the person who’s fashioning trays from discarded shipping boxes and tin foil, then filling them with bags of ice.
Is there an otherwise normal-looking gentleman testing all the cooked foods with a discreet meat thermometer? That’s a nurse. He’s making sure that all of the meats have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, and that cooked foods stay warmer than 130 degrees F, in order to combat the growth of nasty bacteria. He’s probably in infection control.
How about that group of people over there under the tree, all laughing hysterically and drinking heavily, who fall silent when anyone approaches? Unless you have guests who work for the NSA, it’s a sure bet those people are nurses. It’s also a sure bet that they’re discussing something so vomit-inducing that nobody but another nurse will join them all night.
If you need sunscreen, just say so out loud. The person who produces four different formulas from various pockets will be a nurse. No joking here: I went on a river-rafting trip once with three other nurses. Among the four of us, we had 14 different kinds of sunblock, all at least 30 SPF.
Ask who made the delicious spelt, lentil, low-fat cheese and egg-white casserole with extra kale. The person who raises her hand will either be a hippie or a nurse. Ask about the eggs to differentiate: If the eggs came from her own backyard, she’s a hippie. If they’re chock full of extra omega-3s, she’s a nurse.
Finally, the easiest way to spot a nurse at a midsummer barbecue is to injure yourself. You don’t need to do anything dramatic, like have chest pain or a near-drowning experience; just scrape your knee or burn your finger a bit on the grill. As everybody else gathers around to offer sympathy, suggestions and Band-Aids, the nurse in the group will be the one on the other side of the yard, whistling softly to herself while she gazes into the middle distance. She’s not on the clock, you see.