The Operating Room is a different sort of place to work in, and the people who work there can be different too. I spent about nine years all told working in Operating Rooms, and a substantial bit of my education money came from working there. It was by turns the friendliest, and most stressful environment I have ever worked in.
When I left graduate school, It took a few years to find work as an anthropologist. I spent most of that time working as an Operating Room Technician and scrubbing on a wide variety of cases. I’d have to say that the people I worked with and the experiences I garnered made a lasting impression on me.
My last year in the OR provided me with an enduring memory. Around Christmas, only the most necessary surgery gets booked. Nobody wants to convalesce from elective surgery during the holidays. Things slow down in the OR, but work continues with jobs that always need doing to keep the OR a safe environment. Still, there is time for a bit longer coffee breaks and lunches, and a party or two. Being an emergency could roll through the doors at any time, parties tend to be careful affairs. Wilder activities are for after hours and outside the confines of the hospital. This is about one of those events.

So close to Christmas, no cases and everything buttoned up our OR supervisor “Miss Piggy” ( hey, she selected the nickname herself!) decided that the troops deserved to leave a bit early. After discussing what we wanted to do, it was agreed to take in an afternoon movie, and then head over to Boylston Street and our favorite restaurant ( the Half Shell). By unanimous vote, we all agreed we wanted to go see the Bob Guccione film, Caligula. For those not familiar with the film, it was definitely X rated.
Dutifully we all trouped into the theatre. Somewhere about five minutes into the film, my friend May starts talking about the physical improbability of the acts being committed. To my other side, Miss Piggy begins to suppress her laughter, which results in loud sniggers from Rob and Karen. Eventually, a very risque commentary, not suitable for discussion in this setting, starts accompanied by howls of laughter. Before we are ten minutes in, we are all commenting on the actor’s performances and anatomy.
At this point, theatre management intrudes, telling us that we’ll be asked to leave if we can’t quiet down. We calm down, but you can still hear snickering. Then, something so outrageous happens on the screen that we can’t contain ourselves. We all break out in howling laughter and obscene comments. That did it, we were expelled from watching an X rated movie. I’d like to say that we sulked out of the theatre in shame for our bad behavior, but we didn’t – we laughed and made pointed comments all the way to the exit.
We didn’t want to get booted from the Half Shell, so we kept our discussion to a quiet roar.

The last few days before Christmas were quiet, but at a hospital-wide New Year’s Eve party, the OR had the single most outrageous story to share of all the stories told that evening.

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