This Is What Happens When You Sniff Too Much Ammonia

, , , , , | Learning | November 17, 2017

(Because of a specific chemistry assessment, several students need to come in after school to do lab work.)

Classmate #1: *pouring solution* “Ugh, the ammonia smells.”

Classmate #2: “Don’t insult the ammonia. The ammonia has feelings, you know.

Classmate #3: “Ammonia was my best friend for a year.”

Shirley, They Can’t Be Serious

, , , , , , | Working | November 16, 2017

(My coworker, responsible for quality, sees me.)

Coworker: “Ah, [My Name], is there any news on the microscope repair?”

Me: “I’m going to call the engineer shortly.”

Coworker: “What if he doesn’t want to be called shortly?”

Me: “Well, as long as I don’t call him Shirley… Or was that not supposed to be an Airplane joke?”

Coworker: “Eh?”

The Gloves Are Off

, , , , , , | Learning | October 19, 2017

(I’m the teacher’s assistant for a freshman biology lab class. I’ve worked with this professor for several years, and he’s as much my friend as he is my professor. Today’s lab is about running DNA on electrophoresis gels, which involves a lot of fairly hazardous chemicals. After the professor gets done explaining the concepts, he picks up one of the gels with his bare hands.)

Me: “Dude! Put some gloves on! Do you want to get cancer?!”

Professor: “Eh, whatever. I’ve already had all the kids I’m planning on having, and I figure I’m bound to get cancer, anyway, given how often I work with this stuff.”

(I face-palmed. I will say though, I’ve never seen so many freshmen scramble to get their lab gloves on that quickly!)

Being Weird Won’t Kill You

, , , , , , | Working | October 2, 2017

(I’m a research student, and I am also employed by the university to help prep labs for undergraduate classes and take care of the lab animals. It’s worth noting that I have a fairly dark sense of humor, and occasionally make ridiculous statements that I have no intention of following through on. It’s been a terrible day, and I’ve just gotten even more bad news.)

Me: “G**d*** it! I want to murder something!”

(My lab manager is silent for a few minutes, and I start to worry that I’ve scared her.)

Me: “I don’t actually want to kill anything; I’m just upset. Sorry I freaked you out.”

Manager: “Huh? Oh, you didn’t scare me. I was trying to think what we had that you could kill. Normally I’d have you gas the extra fruit flies from the undergrad genetics lab, but they won’t start that lab for another few weeks. We don’t put any of the lab mice or fish down unless they’re sick and at risk of infecting the rest of the population. We have a couple of plants in the greenhouse that got mites and need to be thrown out. I guess you could shred those, but it’s not exactly cathartic. Maybe you could re-pot the botany department’s soybeans? At least you’d get to stab the potting soil.”

(By that point I was laughing too hard to be upset. Nice to know my manager is so willing to roll with my occasional weirdness!)

Intelligence Wasn’t In Their Genes

| Madison, WI, USA | Working | July 7, 2017

(One of my tasks is testing DNA samples using an electrical current running through a gel in an acrylic box. The electrodes on the box and the wires that you plug in are color-coded black and red for negative and positive, just like on a car battery. If you plug them in the wrong way, you lose your samples.)

Me: “How come the red and black electrodes are labelled ‘RED’ and ‘BLACK’ in writing?”

Scientist: “One of our previous techs wasn’t as smart as you.”

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