Sunday, May 19, 2013


From the Stanford and Milgram experiments we know that wearing a uniform gives you authority and makes people inclined to do as you say. Put on a lab coat or even a shitey old khaki shirt and people will think you're the boss. They'll definitely do as they're told if you dress as a cop. It's all in the uniform. However, I started wondering if the reverse would be as effective. What if you wear the opposite of a uniform? Will people do as you say then? 'But Mr. Fugger, our Lord and saviour, please tell us what the opposite of a uniform is', I hear you, my flock, mindlessly bleat. Well, I'll tell you what the opposite of a uniform is. The opposite of a uniform is what I was wearing last Thursday afternoon. The opposite of a uniform is a long plum coloured lady's coat, a gas-mask, diving flippers, and nothing else. I don't normally dress like this of course but it was required for the purpose of my experiment. (To be perfectly honest, I found the attire strangely liberating and couldn't shake the feeling that I had finally found myself.)

Anyway, I went off down the main-street and started giving people orders: 'Get out of your car and hand me the keys!' 'Bark like a dog!' 'Touch your toes!' 'Lie down on the path!' 'Tell me that you love me!' All that sort of thing. Well, it turned out that people also do as you command if you wear the opposite of a uniform. Granted, they had some trouble making out my muffled demands due to the gas-mask but, with some considerable persistence on my part, they eventually got the gist of what was expected of them and complied accordingly. I don't think anyone did as I told them because they were deferring to my authority. I think they did as I commanded for a different reason. I think they obeyed me because of the lad. You know what I mean by 'the lad' don't you? I'm talking about my equipment, my equipment below, the tackle, my wee willy winky, my lad. My lad was flapping about and peeking out of the coat and I think people just didn't want to deal with it. They just wanted me and my lad to go away. I'm familiar with that. I'm kind of used to the whole standing there with my lad out and feeling a bit unwanted thing. I bet you know the feeling too, if you have a lad that is. If you don't have a lad you've probably had some lad possessor standing in front of you at some stage with his lad on show and you've just wanted him to go away, especially if it was in a park and you never met him before and you were with your granny or something.

So yeah, it was my 'lad'. Maybe it wasn't just my lad though. Maybe it was my lad combined with the rest of the anti-uniform - the plum lady's coat, the gas-mask, the flippers. Maybe it was something about those things combined, about that fearful ensemble, that made people do as I said. Whatever it was, it worked.

Now, I've noticed people disrespecting the gardaí these days, shouting at them on the road and refusing to make statements against Donegal people the gardaí have taken against for personal reasons. I've noticed this and I find it a disgrace. If you think about it, a change in uniform might correct the deference deficit. A bit of a lad cameo from beneath a lady's plum coat (with the flippers and the mask) might be just the thing needed to keep Seán and Síle Scumbag on the straight and narrow. OK, banghardaí won't be able to utilise the lad element but a glimpse of gussetlessness should suffice.  

Yes indeed, the gardaí need to stop wearing uniforms and start wearing the opposite of uniforms. Driving a squad car with the diving flippers on might be difficult though but maybe they could customise the pedals or the gardaí could quickly put on the flippers as they get out of the car. Whatever, we'll figure it out.

You probably think my suggestion is absurd. You probably think the gardaí would never wear such an outfit and that they'd be treated as a joke if they did. However, I've done my experiment and I know you're wrong. My suggestion is no more absurd than the whole notion that we should obey the gardaí because they wear a certain type of hat. Think about that one; they are strangers, they have done nothing to earn your trust or respect, and you are expected do as they say because they have this magic hat. That's what is absurd and that's what is no longer working.

Of course, there is always another option. You could always get people to do as you say by treating them with dignity, trying to build a sense of parity, and not coming across with an attitude but I won't go on about that option. It's naïve, it's old fashioned, and it's unrealistic. I'll keep schtum on that one and just keep pushing for the gas-mask, flippers, plum coat, and the lad/fanny. After all, I don't want people thinking I'm an oddball.

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