Monday, January 5, 2009

Technically, you're an ass.

I understand that technicians are often under-appreciated for the work they do and that they regularly have to field demanding requests from lots of people. I also get that some of those requests might be beyond the scope of their job and that this can lead to a somewhat jaded and protectionist persona, but I don't think these factors excuse someone from being a miserable human being.

This morning I contacted the facility whose ultracentrifuge I used over the weekend to tell them about the drive malfunction and find out if they had experienced the problem before. They had not, but the junior technician in the lab asserted that the reason for the malfunction was because I had selected the "hold" option, rather than program in a time. I've worked with these centrifuges for 5 years and know that his argument holds no water. When I told him that I had never run into that problem, he became more defensive and confident in his diagnosis, which I just let slide (even after he admitted that his boss had much more experience with the machine - the same boss who set the run up with me) because maybe their particular machine is quirky. Plus, I was only looking to tell them in case the machine needs service, I was not suggesting that the failure of the run was anyone's fault.

After that "discussion" stalled out, I inquired whether he could suggest another lab that might have the tube caps, which would prevent my tubes from collapsing again. I prefaced this with the fact that I would be ordering my own set for the future, but that borrowing a set in the interim would be helpful so that I could complete my experiment. The response I got shocked me so much I didn't know what to say. "Well, that's really your problem and not something you should depend on us for." My simple request for the names of people to contact was really too much heavy lifting for him? He eventually suggested two labs who use the rotor frequently, but WTF? So, Junior Technician in Core Facility Across Campus, I raise a glass of F.U. in your general direction and hope that you don't live your life like you work your job.

That experience, combine with me going tits-up in the icy parking lot and landing on my computer bag, not two steps after leaving my car this morning, has made for an enjoyable day. Now I get to go home for dinner and bed time for the wee one before coming back and watching more experiments go as well as the Titanic's maiden voyage. Next Tuesday can't come soon enough.

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