Americans Love Uniforms
Americans love uniforms, all sorts of uniforms, from military to cheerleaders, men to children – you name it, they’ve got a uniform for it.
Men love uniforms and women love men in uniforms.
The uniform, particularly military, is revered in the States. Men and women in uniform, for instance, get priorities in travel. And no body minds, far from it, as people respectfully stand aside, quietly reverent – even if only because they are profoundly glad someone else is in the firing line.
Doormen at some establishments are smartly uniformed, pilots still secure our trust by wearing uniforms, marching-bands wear ‘schmick’ uniforms, cops wear uniforms and, that is where the uniform is on a uniform slide. Buttons appear optional, cut matters not, cleaning is an art long forgotten, and the footwear is definitely, well, lets just say it isn’t helping the look.
I saw a security guard sauntering through an airport who appeared more like a walking ill-fitted tea-cozy. His uniform was two sizes to large, his hat, resembling a police officers hat (resembling), was thrice his head size, and his shoes were collapsing to the side so that his walk was, the drift of the drunk. For reasons obvious he commanded little respect – least of all from me. He seemed distracted and was hardly a secret weapon, unless security has become a joke, which I assure you it hasn’t in US airports.
But the point is – he had a uniform and nobody was going to take that away from him, although I wish someone would – take it away that is, clean it and put it on someone else, someone it was actually made for.
Can you imagine though if pilots wore shorts, tee shirts and bare feet. We’d be less likely to entrust ourselves to their expertise. We might well accord them the constitutional right to wear what ever they are comfortable with. But we’d be less likely to join them at 38,000 feet whilst they express their right to individuality.
Uniforms speak of authority and respect. It is in the uniform. For all our insistence on the right of the individual, the right to appear as we will, we still look to a man or woman in uniform. Their uniform is a safe place. It creates respect even on the wrong person. I might protest police brutality but they are the first people I call when someone is being brutal to me, or mine. ‘Damn you, but make sure you help me!’
The authority is in the uniform, not the wearer. If I stood at a busy intersection in the city with little on aside from tee-shirt and shorts or even a business suit the traffic would not obey my gesticulations for any other reason than not wanting to be responsible for running me over. Put me, same person, in a police uniform and suddenly my signals would have all the force of the law behind them. I may even be mad but the uniform isn’t.
We all know the authority behind the uniform, not the wearer, unless we are anarchists or worse.
It isn’t just Americans who love uniforms.