LIFE GOES ON: Psychological Power of a Uniform


My doorbell rang around 10am. I looked through the curtain and saw a UPS man with a package at my back door. I opened the door. He entered.

First sign. I ignored it.

He leaned forward, showed me a package, and said, “This is not you, is it?”

Second sign, I paid attention.

I looked closer at his uniform and noticed that the color seemed a little off and the logo looked distorted.

Third sign. I got it. This was not a UPS man.

Fortunately, I arm my alarm system all of the time. So many people only turn it on when they go to bed, as if the bad guys will only enter when we’re sleeping.

When I realized I had let a strange man into my house, I looked at him, he looked at me, and I calmly said, “That sound that you hear is my alarm system about to off.”  He got it. He left.

An aborted home invasion.

I called the police; they took a report, but could do nothing. I had nothing but a description of a normal looking man, medium height. Because he was at my back door, I never saw a truck, because there was no truck. I called UPS. Their drivers are not allowed to enter a residence, nor do they go to the back door. Case closed.

Why did I let a stranger into my home? Because of my blind trust in the authority and power of his uniform. Police, firefighters, medical personnel, deliverymen. We psychologically see a uniform and see authority and feel safe and secure. Wrong.

How many times have we not asked questions of our doctors because of the power of the white coat? How many times have we opened our doors for UPS and FEDEX without thought? How many times do we need to be fooled before something goes terribly wrong?

Take back your power. Take back your judgment. Ask for ID. Ask questions. Protect yourself.

A uniform is just a piece of clothing. 


Kathleen Cairns, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. She works with adults, adolescents, and couples. You may call her at 860-236-5555 to make an appointment. She is the author of “The Psychotherapy Workbook.”  You may email her at and she will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.

Life goes on… and every day matters…

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