Over the years that I have been marshalling I’ve heard many people, many non-marshals, have a dig at our overalls. Some have called them jump suits, others boiler suits and on one occasion we have had people mistake us for astronauts and ask if we were on a stag do, although it was pointed out by a good friend that as we were in orange we’d be cosmonauts.
I found myself getting a bit annoyed by the names that people called our overalls, whilst I am not questioning their fashion appeal, as overalls don’t really appear on the catwalks of Milan, I was a little annoyed because like a police officer or other uniformed service, I take a bit of pride in my attire for marshalling. I’m not saying I brush and iron it at every occasion to make sure the creases are in the right places, but I ensure it is clean and they don’t have holes in them.
As wearing the proban overalls is a safety aspect as the flame-retardant material gives you that little bit of protection from a fire (remember they aren’t fire proof) and the sturdy materials helps keep your skin protected from being cut on sharp bits of car/motorbike, I do wonder why orange is the colour we have to wear.
Now I can understand the main reasons behind why the colour orange, so we don’t clash with any of the flags, plus it helps us stand out from some pretty bland backdrops, which is always handy in the environment we find ourselves in. Yet, I can’t help but think there are other reasons as to why we take so much pride in wearing them.
There is no hard or fast rule about personalising overalls, as long as it doesn’t involve cutting the sleeves or legs off to detract from the one job they are there to do, the world really is your oyster. I know people who have sewn badges on with all the different circuits they have been too or the different events they have marshalled.
Other people have kept them plain and standard, as minimalistic as possible, maybe the odd name badge or emblem of a sports team or service they hold dear to their heart. On my overalls for example I have the crest of my rugby team that I have played for, for nearly 19 years. I’ve seen other people with their badges from their armed forces days. All have a unique meaning to the person within the orange.
But it’s orange!
Okay, I will admit the orange is a bit of a loud colour, in fact when you get a brand-new set it’s a little bit deafening! When I first started I looked at the overalls and was not best pleased that they were such a vivid colour but over time the colour grew on me, more and more, now it has become my favourite colour and I know I’m not the only one who that has happened to.
Perhaps being able to personalise them was a factor for my change of heart. Being able to have my rugby team’s badge on them meant I had turned them into more of a kit than a working outfit. So, with the same pride that I would wear my amber and black attire during the rugby season, I now have an all-orange kit that I would pull on for marshalling.
It’s not just orange!
This rule doesn’t always apply to the orange overalls, I have seen as much pride with the different coloured overalls that people wear whether it be; black or white for the different circuits and their regulations, red and white or red and black for the rescue unit, or even the green for the medics, each are worn with as much pride and to a high a standard as the next.
So, when you see another marshal and are about to make a comment on their overalls it may be worth thinking how much pride they have in them.
Oh, and my eyes match the orange.