I don't care if you paint your toenails, shave off every last bit of your body hair, or are covered with tattoos (am I the only person in America without tattoos? Sometimes I think so). If you're not clean, I care. I care deeply. As long as you bathe regularly, like at least once a week, I'm happy. If you stink the stink of the deeply, chronically unwashed, I am bothered.
2. Don't threaten violence unless it's absolutely necessary.
There is no need to tell me that you'll "fuck me up" if I don't do something right. I'm going to do it right without your threat, because I'm ethically obliged to, and besides, your grandma is a much nicer person than you are. If you were my patient, there might be a few instances of fuckupery on my part; as it is, there will be none. So STHD and STFU.
3. Please don't ask me if I want to date your cousin/grandson/uncle's sister's stepchild.
It's not exactly a welcome question at the bar; when I'm doing a tricky dressing change or assisting with a bedside procedure, it's even less welcome and more distracting. Subsets of this behavior include: stalking (you're not going to be able to stalk me very efficiently if you're ataxic, so don't try), giving me your number on a piece of hospital stationery, or trying to pull me into bed with you for a little kiss. I don't care if you're eighteen or eighty; knock it off.
4. Do not, ever, press me for my opinion on political matters. You won't like it.
I'm a big ol' flamin' feminist socialist. And, since I can actually define "socialist" correctly and use it in a sentence, I get annoyed by those of you who can't (and who further equate socialism with Communism, Stalinism, Nazism, and Glenn Beck's Flavor Of The Week). Please don't ask me what I think of health care reform, universal sufferage, the plight of immigrants (legal or il-), or whether women's shelters ought to be defunded. I might tell you, and then your aneurysm would grow, and you'd have to go to the ICU and would be deprived of the pleasure of my company.
5. If you're a racist bastard, come right out and say it.
I had a guy do that once, and it made things much easier. I was able to reassign nurses and nurses' aides and read the guy the riot act in the meantime. If I'm forced to interpret your Birther mumbles through the tiny hole in the sheet that you're wearing, it's going to waste a lot of my time. If you're an asshole, own up to it. We'll get along fine once you understand that it's my way or the quick ambulance back to Hicktown highway.
6. Tell me about your animals. Or ask me about mine, though I'll probably tell you anyhow.
I want to hear all about your critters. I may disagree that your Corgi, Chihuahua mix, or Siamese is the best animal ever, since my critters have the top three spots and my nephew the fourth, but I'm interested anyhow. We can discuss grooming aids and kibble while I'm resiting your IV, and I'll take you down in a wheelchair so that you can see Spot or Fluffy. You might even be the person to hook me up with the nonaggressive, big dog I've been looking for to be pals with the Max-Zoats.
7. Don't pretend that that dude on the couch is your wink-wink "friend". It's cool.
I'm just glad you have somebody here with you. I don't really care if you're straight or gay; the important thing is that somebody loves you, and that you love them. Likewise, it's not really necessary to show me your POA or living will; I'd happily break the law to allow a life partner into the room, and damn the consequences. It's a hard enough world out there; love like that is something to cherish, not block.
8. Ask questions. Really.
I'm not going to be threatened by you asking questions, double-checking the bed angle, or otherwise sticking up for the patient. In fact, I'll welcome it: I make mistakes, especially toward the end of a long run of work days. Two heads are definitely better than one in this business, and I'm just grateful that you're paying attention. Besides, education is my all-time favorite part of being a nurse, and I like to hear myself talk, so you're golden. If you're considering emailing me for advice on being a student/nurse, feel free! I'm always looking for excuses not to do the dishes. Likewise, if you just want to hang out, that's good too.
9. If you really, really like the care I've given you, tell the boss.
A couple of times, people have left me money (donated to Sunnydale's Christmas Angels program) and once, a bottle of really good single-malt Scotch (hidden under my voluminous lab coat and taken home in defiance of hospital policy). I'd much rather you tell my boss, though, as it helps temper the image of me as some sort of lunatic loose cannon let fly on the medical world.
10. Finally, let me know if there's something wrong.
Again, this goes for both friends and patients. I am not psychic. I can't tell automatically if there's something I'm either doing wrong or not doing at all; you have to tell me. My fee-fees aren't going to get hurt; instead, I'll take the check and use it the best way I know how. And be grateful if, in future, I have reason to recall the lesson and use it again.
See? It's easy. All you have to do is do things my way and the world is a better place.