It’s Good For The Boss That You Have Internal Filters

, , , | Working | March 18, 2019

(I work as an intern in the lab. One of my jobs is filtrate mud to separate clear water from solid particles. This batch’s mud is exceptionally thick and the filter paper tears easily, so I use two layers of paper per filtration, as my supervisor recommended. It means a filtration that usually takes half an hour now takes two to three hours, but it is the only way to get it done properly. The boss of the lab pops up and see me preparing the layers. He is not a great listener and thinks he is always right.)

Boss: “Why are you doing it this way? It’s going to take forever! You only need one filter paper.”

Me: “I need to use two this time or it doesn’t filter properly. [Supervisor] told me—“

Boss: “Don’t be ridiculous. Here, let me show you.”

(I internally cringe, as him doing experiments always results in me and my supervisor spending hours cleaning after him, and I just know this time is not going to be any different. But he is my boss, so I let him to it and go work on other tasks. I keep an eye on him for twenty minutes and see him struggle and keep tearing the filter paper, mud going through instead of clear water. He finally “has something urgent to do in his office,” which is my cue to clean up the huge mess. I try my best to scoop mud from the flasks and everything the boss used as quickly and efficiently as possible, so we can still analyze the sample before it dries up. Seeing the disaster, my supervisor gives up what he is doing and helps me. As we are finishing up, the boss comes back from his urgent matter. He looks at us cleaning for a little while and tell us patronizingly:)

Boss: “Yes, you see, for this batch, you should use two layers of filter or it goes everywhere! Remember it for next time.”

(He promptly exited and let us bask in his wisdom.)

A Rags To Rashes Story

, , , , | Healthy | March 12, 2019

My dad likes to share this story of when he worked in a science lab.

There were massive security protocols in place for everything, but one day, a pile of what looked like rags was left in a high-traffic area. People were basically forced to step on the rags to walk through. Nobody seemed to be paying attention to them, or be concerned that they were just lying there.

My dad saw them when he arrived for the day and was finally the one who followed protocol and called it in.

Apparently, the response was something to behold. The lab was shut down. Nobody in the entire lab facility was allowed to leave until they went through thorough decontamination; since it was a high-traffic area, basically everyone had to be considered “exposed” to… whatever it was. Their clothes and shoes were confiscated. People in Hazmat suits came, collected the rags, shut down the wing for decontamination, and left everyone sitting around for hours, unable to do anything or leave.

At the end of the day, an all-clear was given: “We’ve determined that there’s no contamination or exposure from the rags. However, if anyone develops a fungus-like infection or rash, please report it immediately.”

My dad commented, “That’s so comforting to hear.”

The entire staff got to be dragged in for a refresher on safety protocols and “why we don’t just walk through a potential contamination hazard.”

H2-Slow To Act

, , , , , | Working | February 26, 2019

Back in the early 2000s, our lab where we analyzed drug products moved to a new facility. This location was fully contained and boasted, among other things, an automatic washer for laboratory glassware — quite important when you’re analyzing stuff.

Despite this “state of the art” facility, some of us started noticing spots on our glassware. I, for one, began rewashing the glassware myself, by hand. My boss didn’t like my spending my time that way, but I managed to make it sufficiently speedy that he pretty much was unaware I was doing it.

Some years later, several of us were having trouble with our assays. Management basically refused to listen to our complaint about the glassware, and the problem seemed to get worse and worse. Finally, a young PhD took it upon himself to investigate further and determined that the spots on our glassware were not merely water spots — which shouldn’t have been there, anyway — but were residual detergent, quite capable of messing up many assays.

He then investigated the dishwashing facility and determined that not only were they not rinsing glassware with deionized water, but they also weren’t even rinsing it with tap water. It seems the washer was plumbed wrong and was recycling wash water where it should have used fresh water.

All of this could have severely compromised our analytical results — which were being reported to the government — but management just swept the problem under the rug like it never happened!

Unfiltered Story #141235

, , | Unfiltered | February 19, 2019

I work in a small environmental lab in the Midwest USA. Fish fry season is big here, with newspapers publishing a map to local events every weekend. Part of the popularity is due to the practice of abstaining from any meat but fish on Fridays during the period of Lent, which covers about six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Lent is observed by many Christian religions, particularly Catholics in our area. The vast majority of my coworkers are self-professed Catholics who observe Lenten dietary restrictions. Many others do so out of respect for their coworkers. Others just like fish. I belong to the latter two groups. Please note, we are a close-knit, family-type company. The result of all this is, on any given Friday, someone, usually the boss, has brought enough fish and side-dishes for everyone.
Our break room is only one door down from the main offices. It’s Friday afternoon, and the lovely aroma of fried fish permeates the building.  A customer stopped by to drop off coal samples for testing, and remarked on the smell of fish.
Boss: There’s plenty in the break room. Go fix you a plate!
Customer: *wrinkling his nose* Why does it smell like fish?!
Boss: Well, it is Friday. <District Manager> brought Long John Silvers for everyone.
Customer: That’s disgusting! This is a business! It shouldn’t smell like f****** fish!
Boss: Many of our employees observe Lent, so the only meat they can eat on Friday is fish.
Customer: I don’t f****** care! It’s making me sick!
Boss: Well, I’m sorry about that.
Customer: <storming off, echoes down the hallway> It smells like f****** fish!
There was a few moments of silence, then everyone within earshot started laughing. Best part – the customer heard it and shut up!

Karma Lives In Ohio

, , , , , | Working | February 18, 2019

(I work in an electronics lab at a high-tech manufacturer in California. My supervisor sometimes takes credit for my work. One day a customer in Ohio is having trouble with their user interface port, a problem I have already solved. My supervisor asks me to explain the fix, all the while repeating, “I do NOT want to go to Ohio!” Later, the owner walks in for an update.)

Owner: “So, did you come up with a solution?”

Supervisor: “Yes, it seems that—“ *repeats my solution as his own*

Owner: “That’s good work, [Supervisor]. I’m sending you to Ohio to fix this customer’s unit.”

Me: *suppressing a shriek of laughter*

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