The BS Meter Is Broken, Too

, , , , , , | Working | April 26, 2019

(After my freshman year in college, I get a summer internship in a lab. I’m doing pretty basic stuff, but as an eighteen-year-old with hardly any experience, it seems pretty cool. During my second week, I break a small piece of equipment, completely my fault.)

Me: “Uh, [Coworker #1]? I broke the pH meter probe.”

Coworker #1: “Oh, that’s okay. I’ll go grab another; I’ll show you how to replace it. Wait here.”

([Coworker #1] leaves to go to the storage room to find a new probe while I stand there waiting.)

Coworker #2: *walks in* “What are you doing? Why aren’t you testing these samples?”

Me: “I broke the pH meter probe; [Coworker #1] is getting a new one.”

Coworker #2: “You what? You broke it? Do you have any idea how expensive these are?! This is coming out of your paycheck! These things are like $400!”

Me: “What?!”

Coworker #2: “Yeah. You break it, you buy it.”

Me: “It was an accident!”

Coworker #2: “Doesn’t matter. Be more careful next time. You’ll never get a job if you break stuff all the time.”

(He goes to his bench and [Coworker #1] comes back.)

Me: “Are these really $400?”

Coworker #1: “Huh? Yeah, I guess.”

(He shows me how to replace the probe and I finish my work. When I go home, I calculate how long it’ll take me to pay off this $400 probe, at $6.70 an hour: about a week and a half! I’m pretty frustrated. The next day:)

Coworker #1: “Hey, did [Coworker #2] tell you that you have to pay for the pH probe you broke yesterday?”

Me: “Yeah, he did. Don’t worry; I’ll be more careful! This won’t happen again.”

Coworker #1: “That a**hole. You don’t have to pay for it! Don’t worry about it.”

Coworker #2: *leans out from his lab bench* “I can’t believe you bought that!” *laughs maniacally*

(Ever since then, when I train people, I urge them to be careful but make sure they know they don’t have to pay to replace things broken by accident!)

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