It's about &*^#! time

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The time is here for me to clean up my language. Readers may think that time was a long while back, but language is a normative behavior, and my environment has largely been an emergency department. I've written about code switching before. I'm sorry to destroy, again, people's ideas of nurses as pure little angels, but the truth is that, at least in the ER, nurses AND physicians swear like sailors. Truly, people are suspicious if you say idiotic things like "cheese and rice!" instead of just going ahead with it. It is a rough place where tough and threatening language is more common than not. I once heard a charge nurse say, "I quit swearing in the marines, but there was no way I could do it when I came back to ER nursing."

Crude or "inappropriate" things I remember just off the top of my head:

  • "What up, bitches?" (on arriving for work)
  • "Well, fuck you then." (physician to patient who had just played the "I want to kill myself" card)
  • "If you sing that song again, I'm going to cut you." (physician to me)
  • "Ima take you outside and beat the shit out of you." (everyday statement from staff to staff)
  • "Fuck you." (physician to me on hearing a patient's chief complaint)
  • "Can I see your pussy? I just want to look at it, not touch it." (physician to me, asking to see my cat tattoo)
  • "What do you have for me?" "Well, I have a big dick." "No you don't. I've seen it." (physicians doing handoff at their shift change)
  • "Someone needs to fucking kill that fucker." (physician, about patient)
  • "Someone needs to show her how to do it right." (physicians and nurses, about patients who "attempt suicide")
  • "I'm going to fucking kill him/her." (Common statement bandied about for anything, from inheriting a difficult patient to forgetting to order dinner.)
  • "OH MY FUCKING GOD. It's a medical miracle." (physician, on hearing Dilaudid 2 mg was effective for pain control.)
  • "Listen motherfucker, you put hands on my nurses, I put my hands on you." (physician, body-checking a patient who'd just roundhoused me)

You get the point.

My other playground has been teh Internetz, where my peers have at times chosen to neglect any logical and factual points in my posts and instead have focused on my "use of profanity." Apparently these people are easily distracted by shiny things. (SHINY! SHINY! LOOK!) This is not really an area where swearing is normative behavior, particularly if people know you're a professional, which I am supposed to be. So, ironically, I need to clean up my language online to keep up a persona my real-life professional peers do not match.

It is what it is. My new work environment is not profanity free, particularly from clients, but it isn't an ER. It is too confusing to have two communication styles, and, really, where is the motivation to continue to swear? It's going to be a tough road, so I'm just going to CUT DOWN. Even Guy Kawasaki thinks it's okay to swear now and then for emphasis.

I don't like bowing to the masses and being inauthentic; neither do I want to lose readers who are easily offended or to gratuitously swear to punctuate ideas that are already fully supported and emphasized. And please, people, do not e-mail me saying "you said fuck!" It's progress, not perfection.