How to tell you’re riding with an RN


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My Maserati, if I had one, would not do 185. I do get rubber in all four gears, though, when I get my motor running and head out on the highway.

Herewith, then: how to tell your driver is a nurse, from her driving style to the assortment of items in her car.

1. You’re going really fast. Like, bugs-in-your-teeth fast.
Nurses tend to work hard and play hard. Part of the “playing hard” involves driving fast. I have a nurse pal who works critical care and can push her Prius up past 90 mph without batting an eye. Don’t ask me why this is. You’d think, with all we see, that we’d be the white-knucklers going 55 in the slow lane.

2. Scraps of paper crumpled into every open space.
When getting out of work is on your mind, you tend to leave your Brain (that bit of paper on which you write everything) in your pocket instead of slipping it through the shredder. An archaeological examination of a nurse’s car will reveal details of every patient she’s worked with in the last six weeks.

3. Chip wrappers, sausage-egg-and-cheese packages and Diet Coke cans.
Not that we, as a group, roll out in motorized trash bins, but we do eat in our cars. When you’re leaving for work at 0500, the gas station’s version of breakfast sounds like a good idea.

4. Odd medical implements, most of them scary.
This falls into the same category as “How you know it’s a nurse’s purse/backpack.” I shove things into my pockets, like IV needles and syringes, that sometimes don’t make it back onto the patients’ counter before I leave work. You could probably perform minor surgery with all the stuff I’ve inadvertently lifted from my hospital.

5. An extra pair of scrubs in the back.
If a nurse lives where it floods—or tornadoes hit or ice falls from the sky or people poop—she’ll have an extra pair of scrubs in the car. Those might even be the extra extra scrubs; the good ones live in her locker.

6. Change for the vending machines.
This is particular to night-shift nurses. Need I say more?

7. Wire-bound textbooks, PowerPoint presentations and notes from their last CEU class.
Nobody ever takes that stuff into the house, because then they’d have to do something with it. Instead, we leave it sitting in the car, piling up, until it begins to affect gas mileage and handling.

8. Two cans of Fix-A-Flat, a set of jumper cables, chock blocks, cat litter, flares, a flashlight, a gallon of water, extra antifreeze and oil, a full set of tools and a better jack than the one that came with the car.
Because we have to get to work.

9. A selection of cards.
One to get into the employee garage. One to punch in with. One to wear as an ID (perhaps more than one, if the nurse works in more than one hospital). One to get lunch with. One to get into the other employee garage. And the frequent flier card from the liquor store that entitles the member to 10 percent off any purchase.

10. A bottle of wine.
Because, really, what else are we gonna do when we get off work?

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