La Ropa La Ropa La Ropa!

Published: October 6th 2014
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La ropa. Clothing. It is proving to be an ordeal at the hospital. As a volunteer it is expected that I wear "formal" clothing to the hospital, which was loosely defined as no flip flops, no "tourist" clothes, and no t-shirts. Dresses, pants, blouses, and skirts would be acceptable. As I was packing, I tried to figure out what I own that fits that vague description (not much). On my first day, I curiously observed what the two girls that had been here for a month wore to the hospital: nice sandals, casual pants, and dressy sleeveless tops. I thought I could match that. Except, when the director came to meet me before my first day, my outfit of a long printed skirt, my Birkenstock sandals, and a plain black tank top was deemed inappropriate. Easily remedied I thew a sheer blouse over my tank top and changed into some closed toe flats. I am still unclear on the rules but apparently no sandals whatsoever and only embellished tank tops. I understand that we need to make a good impression at the hospital so that we are taken seriously; however, I still think it is little unreasonable. It is hot sticky here. I did not like being chastised for not following poorly articulated rules. I said as much that it is unclear what is meant by formal clothes, but again I got "dress like you're going to an engagement party." Yeah, okay. In American terms I think this means business casual. Or something. I prefer the modesty expected in Muslim countries where the rule is to cover your shoulders and knees. Simple. Respectful. Once I get to the hospital, I change into my scrubs in either a bathroom stall or the slightly larger closet where employees store their personal items. Everyone must wear scrubs, a head covering, and shoe covers. I then try to find all of my odds and ends from my assortment of bags to stuff into my scrubs pockets - gloves, hand sanitizer, phones, wallet, toilet paper, etc, as if I could fit anything else...and voila! And my all important name badge that I wore to the hospital with my first outfit and must also take off and put back on wear with my scrubs. Now I am "sterile" and ready to work. As I leave the hospital, I do the same dance in reverse - a couple of times a day if I leave for lunch in the middle of my shift. It starts to feel like quite an ordeal. On top of that I am juggling a backpack of personal items, a bag of hospital supplies, and a mini cooler with ice and rags. After a couple of weeks I organized my supplies in a way that made this easier for me, but I couldn't get around the hassle of schlepping my backpack, extra bag, and cooler out the door with me in the morning from my house into a taxi to my Spanish class into another taxi to the hospital and back home. Just for fun my house has a fence with a padlock that is difficult for me to manoeuvre.

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