|Oh..The tales that were told during mandatory dinner hour.
The nursing school had commandeered a long table in the very back of the chow hall. A sense of decorum was added to the ho hum environment by the use of genuine china dinner plates emblazoned with "IMMC School of Nursing Dedicated to the Service of Mankind." Another unique touch was the disbursement of several bottles of Red Hot Sauce prominently displayed as a centerpiece.
Nursing students were undernourished in social experiences and overfed on shame and degradation dished out by mean old coots masquerading as instructors. The fine china and special sauce adornment was a lame attempt to mitigate the harsh realities of life as a nursing student and spice things up a bit.
Working with the most challenging patients was difficult enough, but our tough minded, anal retentive instructors demanded strict self-regulation of our behavior. There was no crying, complaining, or lamentations of any sort permitted. We always answered to our hard core instructors in plantation speak, "Yes'um, No madame, and Right away," were stock replies.
So when we all sat down together for dinner, it felt as though a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. Typical dinner table conversation revolved around difficult nursing procedures and technical tips for their successful completion. Occasionally the various foodstuffs were used as props. I will never forget the time my friend, Janess, demonstrated her prowess at removing fecal impactions by using a stale donut leftover from breakfast and an overcooked chunk of bratwurst. The key was to bury your finger well into the brat and the flex the distal phalanx into a hook like device before pulling it through the donut.
Being the sole male at the dinner table had it's awkward moments when I was called to mediate arguments about boyfriends or menstrual cycles. Although I may have been a disinterested party my knowledge base was not up to snuff and led to lots of round about jibber jabber.
Our final dinner together as student nurses was held outside the hospital at a really nice nearby restaurant, The Ivanhoe, which was just down the street between Clark and Halsted. The senior dinner held right before we were crowned GNs was memorable because or instructors were finally nice to us because we survived and were on our way to becoming peers. I made up my mind then and there that I was never going to treat anyone as we were treated as students.