I haven't blogged about work lately but WOW I've had some week so I feel like I outta give all y'all the rundown.
Actually, it all happened Thursday so I guess I should say I had some Thursday. First thing Thursday morning we were whiffing something that didn't smell so good in the ladies' bathroom. I know this sounds like it could just be some vile natural bathroom incident but when you work on a floor full of labs in a large University building and the odor reeks distinctly of chloroform (a toxic chemical) you tend to think otherwise. We couldn't place the source though. Shortly after, I headed down to the departmental dishroom (next to the ladies' room on our floor) and almost fell over from chloroform fumes when I walked in. The poor unsuspecting woman (K) that was working in there had no idea it was a hazardous chemical and panicked as I started opening doors and windows and searching around aggressively for the culprit. We finally found it; someone had opted to send their toxic waste down to the dishroom to be autoclaved instead of disposing of it as per federal regulations. The waste had been put into a trash can. We put the trash can out in the hall, took out the bags and put them in our chemical fume hood (which vents the fumes to the great outdoors) and opened every window on our floor. By the time I was done I was getting quite a headache and starting to forget my name. I went back to the safety of our lab but a few hours later when the Environmental Health and Safety people showed up to clean up the mess I had a momentary blitz and put all the agar plates for my experiment on the wrong cart, which got whisked off to the dishroom and thrown in the dishwasher before I even knew what had happened. A half an hour later I discovered my experiment was missing, and an hour later we got a note from the dishroom saying my plates had clogged up their sink and dishwasher and PLEASE don't ever send that kind of stuff down to be washed again.
It didn't end there, although I'm not sure if it could have gotten worse. A post-doc in our lab decided a while ago to make a large-scale compilation of bacterial strains. To do this, he had a robot pick bacteria colonies and put them each into individual wells (in 384-well plates), and then he wanted to pool them all together. It doesn't sound so bad, but it turns out in the end that there were over 13,000 colonies picked and 13,000 wells total that needed to be pooled together. So at the end of the day Thursday he let us all know that we'd all have to devote most of our afternoon Friday to helping him do this crazy thing. Then my Kung-Fu Coworker, who had actually had time to check her email during all this, said, "hey, did you see that the director of our program picked us to present posters at that thing-a-ma-jig next week?" I was stunned and shocked and exasperated and a little pissed off, because I hadn't even planned to go to the thing-a-ma-jig next week and really didn't want to deal with making a poster, but then after complaining loudly for a few minutes I learned that my other co-worker had come up with the idea and my boss had volunteered me for it, so there was no weaseling out (and an apology was due since they had both been standing nearby whilst I unloaded my grievances). Then on my way out the door, my boss came up to me and said, "hey we need to talk, I think that the project your underling undergrad has been working on for six months isn't working out so great." I said to him in a high-pitched screaming voice that it was working out just fine and he didn't know what was what and then I left before anything else could happen, and I went home and held my teddy bear and ate chocolate.