Back in my days of caring for AIDS patients (the mid- to late 1980s), I picked up the habit from other caregivers of wearing scrubs, the pajama-like clothing, consisting of a short-sleeved top and pants held in place by tie strings and no buttons. I had scrubs in a variety of blues and greens, ranging from pale to dark. Because I had a doctorate in public administration, other caregivers, as a prank, stole several of my scrub tops and had “Dr. Glenn” stitched above the breast pocket on the left. That meant I was constantly explaining that I was not a physician, much to the amusement of my fellow caregivers.

All these years later, I still have and wear regularly four or five sets of scrubs. They’re easy to jump into when I want to run to the local grocery for a bottle of milk. And they invariably fool people into thinking I’m a physician, scrubbed down for surgery (that’s where the name “scrubs” came from). I often get addressed as “doctor,” as if everyone knows of my advanced school degree.

The scrubs are only one way that my past catches up with me. I sometimes wear my Vietnam veteran pin. When I do, people so often thank me for my service. I guess you can’t escape your past. That’s fine with me—I’m proud of history of helping others.

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