Which Hat Today?


I originally planned to rant on the insane cost of school supplies. However, instead of getting on this:

I decided to share a bit of this as it relates to my day job:

An ancient Greek bit of wisdom still passed on today: “Know thyself.”  Well, I’ve know for a very long time that any job in which I did the same thing every day, day in and day out would drive me bonkers. I don’t mind some routine and repetition, but mixing things up keeps life and work interesting.

Life in a research lab demands no shortage of “hats” one must don. On any given day I might have to be any or all of these:

  1. Dishwasher- A lot of people seem to think those dishes will magically wash themselves.
  2. Shelf stocker- If the boss wants things reorganized, guess who gets to do it.
  3. IT Helpdesk- I’ve done everything from virus scans and software updates, to setting up new PCs and  PC troubleshooting. I know just enough to be dangerous.
  4. Mechanical Engineer- The first time something in the lab broke and my boss turned to me and said, “So, fix it.” I think I about panicked. I’ve replaced thermocouples and assembled new equipment, jury rigged old equipment (DUCT TAPE!), but the best lesson to learn is find out who to call to get it working again.
  5. Janitor- For some odd reason the actual janitors don’t like cleaning in labs full of chemicals.
  6. Secretary- Least fun job= yearly inventory
  7. Teacher- Whether undergrad student or experienced PhD, the new person always needs someone to show them the ropes. I get tossed into that role on a regular basis.
  8. Delivery Person- Usually actual delivery person does this, but sometimes things go to the wrong place and I get elected to cart them to where they belong.
  9. Writer- Unlike stories, nothing tops the tedious scale like writing scientific papers.
  10. Chemist- Well, it had to appear eventually, seeing as how I AM a medicinal chemist.
  11. Biologist- Not all medicinal chemists work in the biology side, but I do. I can grow cells and work with DNA, RNA, and protein just as well as I mix chemicals together. There are days I think I make a better biologist.
  12. Mover- I’ve changed lab space twice and there’s a possible move in the future. When space needed to be made for a new employee, who did the heavy lifting? Yep. Me.
  13. Purchasing Agent- I just fill out P.O.s now, but there was a time when I had to not only purchase stuff for the whole lab, but also keep track of budgets.
  14. Safety Inspector- No, thionyl chloride should NOT be evaporated outside of the hood. Acid/Base waste should NOT go down the sink. Chlorinated and Non-chlorinated solvent waste should be separated if possible. Please, please, please, do not leave needles lying around.
  15. Book keeper- See #13

Now, add in the hats I wear as a mom. I  do believe that the odds of me suffering from boredom are below the detectable limits.

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2 responses to “Which Hat Today?

  1. Yes it does sound like you’re busy. I am sure there are times you want to chuck those hats and say, “I’m done!”

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