Work Clothes

Photos & videos by Drew Perine • Profiles by C.R. Roberts

Connie Doll, jockey Franclyn Heinecke, beekeeper Rob Tinsley, maintenance technician Justin Wright, clown Elijah O’Bannon, carhop Brian Hertzog, umpire Father Seraphim Majmudar, Greek Orthodox priest Jeri Campbell, nurse

Work Clothes

Bankers still wear suits, butchers and bakers wear aprons, golfers and football players still wear shoes with soles fixed with cleats meant to grab the ground.

On Labor Day 2014 we note that uniforms remain an ongoing presence for many workers, from the jockey in her silks to the priest in his robes.

In the workday world, many of us are known by the clothes and equipment we wear, the clothes that protect us or publicly announce us to clients, patients, fans or members of the congregation.

The red nose of a clown, the roller skates of a carhop, the hood of a beekeeper.

Our clothes define us.

At work, we are what we wear.

(On slides below, click arrows on side to view videos)


Connie Doll, jockey

Connie Doll

Surrounded by quiet storm of rainbows hung above her, jockey Connie Doll sits in the “color room” at Emerald Downs race track in Auburn. She has been a professional jockey since her first race at age 14, in Canada.

“The horse was so good, it ran off with me and won, and made me look good,” she said.

Every racehorse owner chooses and supplies his or her own silk blouse in a tradition that goes back, if not to chariot riders in ancient Rome, then to the Newmarket race course in England, in October 1762. Minutes of the Jockey Club meeting that month record a resolution that riders would wear colors to distinguish themselves from one another.

“I feel like a part of history,” Doll says. She also says she has “made a lot of history after 39 years.”

With those 39 years under her whip, she claims to have the longest consecutive career of any female jockey in the country.

And of all the silks she has worn over nearly four decades, she does have a very favorite.

“The ones I win in,” she says. “I love those.”




Franclyn Heinecke, beekeeper

Franclyn Heinecke

The lightweight, tight-weave cotton jacket keeps her cool and the heavy socks help keep the bees from stinging. So too with the zippered hood.

Franclyn Heinecke lights the wad of burlap inside her smoker, to soothe the hive of some 80,000 bees, primarily of the Eastern European Carniolan strain.

She also keeps a bottle of sugar water handy to distract and placate them should they become aggressive.

Heinecke, one of 12 certified master beekeepers in the state, also wears a leather gauntlet, just in case, as she pulls a frame of honeycombs from one of her hives. She expects to harvest 70 pounds of honey by November.

Her uniform protects her and the protection allows her to do her job.

“I just want to concentrate on taking care of the bees,” she says.




Rob Tinsley, maintenance technician

Rob Tinsley

Rob Tinsley, 46, wears a new set of clothes every day, fresh coveralls especially.

“There’s stuff you don’t want to wear twice,” he says. “We go into some really nasty places.”

Tinsley is a maintenance technician employed by LOTT Clean Water Alliance in Olympia – with LOTT signifying Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County.

He goes where few men go, beneath streets, into the dank, dark, fetid jungles of tunnels where wastewater flows.

He wears double gloves, coveralls, a helmet, eye protection, hearing protection.

“We go into a lot of confined spaces where we have to use a gas sniffer. We go 30 to 50 feet underground. I’ve been here for almost nine years and it still makes me gag at some locations.”

He also wears “bog boots,” heavy rubber boots to keep his feet safe.

One day, Tinsley hadn’t noticed a small hole in one of his boots. Soon after, he says, “I ended up with a staph infection. It’s pretty nasty stuff.”




Justin Wright, clown

Justin Wright

It’s not that Justin Wright, 45, ever really wanted to be a clown.

“I discovered that I was a clown,” he said.

The Olympia resident made his inaugural appearance on Mother’s Day, 1996.

Rather than a “costume,” Wright prefers to call what he wears as his “clown clothes.”

And where a traditionally costumed clown will wear gloves and a wig and keep most skin covered, Wright feels fine wearing short-legged pants and short-sleeved shirts.

“If I wear short sleeves, I’m OK with that,” he said. “The more comfortable they are, the the better I can access my inner clown.”

Some customers – for birthday parties, perhaps, or for singing telegrams – prefer that he wear the oversized size 19 clown shoes, but he prefers more regular footwear, albeit strung with rainbow laces.

His tramp-like makeup is light, and his vest or his jacket will contain several large pockets for treats, confetti, stickers or perhaps a pretend-cigar and gigantic lighter.

“It is profound to be at someone’s special occasion, and to offer them something they will remember, especially if I do the pie in the face.”

In deference to the lactose intolerant among us, the pies Wright throws contain non-dairy whipped topping.




Elijah O’Bannon, carhop

Elijah O’Bannon

“I’m usually a street-skater,” says Elijah O’Bannon, 16, an incoming junior at Tacoma’s Oakland High School.

Otherwise, this street-skater is a work-skater at a job he’s had going on four months.

On the job he wears a blue and red polo shirt and black hat, both with a Sonic Drive-In logo.

“I’m a carhop,” he says. “It fits me. I like dealing with customers.”

And the customers react. “They’re like, ‘Wow,’ ” O’Bannon says. “They say, ‘I didn’t know they still do this.’”

They still do it at the Sonic on Sixth Avenue.

O‘Bannon skates for the whole of his six-hour shift.

“The point is being fast,” he says. “But once you get too cocky, you trip. And if you’re not a really good skater, I’m sorry, it takes practice.”




Brian Hertzog, umpire

Brian Hertzog

Don’t call Brian Hertzog “Blue.”

An umpire in the pacific Coast League, Hertzog wears black – gray pants, black shirt.

His steel-toed shoes contain a protective plate beneath the laces. His chest protector is hard plastic and worn beneath his shirt; no longer does he wear the “air mattress” on his chest. His face mask is made of titanium and his cap is black.

These days – these hot summer days – can mean that all the gear he wears can simulate three hours spent in a sauna.

He figured the ambient temperature at 108 degrees during a recent stint umpiring a series of games in Memphis.

And that can cause something of a problem when a catcher calls for a new ball, a dry ball.

Sweating, Hertzog can only say, “Sorry.”

He understands the fervor true fans bring to a game, and he doesn’t really mind the catcalls and verbal harangues. He just wishes those folks would get it right.

He wears black, not blue.




Father Seraphim Majmudar, Greek Orthodox priest

Father Seraphim Majmudar

Father Seraphim Majmudar, pastor at Tacoma’s Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, recalls the first moment he wore his clerical vestments, in what he says was a “ramshackle apartment” in Jerusalem in 2000.

Coincidentally, that was the night of the beginning of the first Intifada, pitting Palestinians against Israel. It was an important personal moment, but with respect rather than hubris.

“The garments, “ Majmudar says, “don’t mean anything other than the context in which they’re worn.” The garments, the richly brocaded liturgical vestments, are meant to “inspire, reflect, remind,” he says.

A priest for 14 years, Majmudar wears a black cassock when not clothed in the embroidered clerical robes. This he refers to as his “daily attire,” and it is what you would see him wear wherever he goes, to the grocery store, on the street.

“I’m always on the job,” he says.

But at home, however, in private, you might find him with clothes that salute another affiliation. At times, he can be found wearing gear that proclaims his affection for the San Francisco 49ers.




Jeri Campbell, nurse

Jeri Campbell

There once was a day when nurses wore starched white uniforms and special caps. Not so much anymore.

A nurse for 40 years – 30 in Tacoma – Jeri Campbell today wears a colorful blouse meant to welcome, not intimidate.

“I almost wore my frog scrubs today,” she said during one recent shift at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. “Kids love frogs,” she said.

The colorful, themed attire – along with being more comfortable than starched whites – helps to build trust, she said.

“Trust. That’s the number one thing.”

Nursing uniforms have become “a lot more functional and practical,” she said. “I have 10 different tops, with a couple just for holidays, Christmas, Easter.”

“I like it better this way.”