After my stint at the VA, I worked for a private lab attached to a clinic. I did a lot of tissue culture, which is one of my favorite things, and a lot of record-keeping, which was pleasantly organized. That sounds like a backwards compliment, but it’s not. I really do enjoy organized data collection, and our lab director had designed these beautifully meticulous notebooks for us to use. In a research lab, you have a variety of lab books that are basically grid paper and random stuff pasted in. If you’re lucky, you can actually read someone else’s notebook, but it’s honestly not guaranteed. As a side note, any of you reading this who might be sloppy scientists: knock it off! Pretend you’re being graded on your penmanship for 5 minutes and don’t forget to write. Down. EVERYTHING.
Our lab space was a semi-controlled environment and aseptic technique was a top priority, another difference between private companies and research. I know, some of you university-based scientists and lab minions are meticulous and careful and you’d certainly never work in the biosafety cabinet without gloves or, heaven forbid, mouth pipet. Yet, you know I’m mentioning them because I’ve seen both of these things done, and the no gloves thing is disturbingly common. Fortunately, most of the biologists I’ve known are smart enough not to aspirate solutions with their mouth, but hey. Med students eat next to their cadavers sometimes, so there you go. Some people are just gross, especially if everyone else you know is doing it first.
So in the lab, we had to wear scrubs, bootie covers, face mask, and those dumb
surgical hair nets bouffant caps. We also had our scrubs cleaned and delivered by some special labwear company because of the nature of the job, which means they never came home with us and we weren’t able to buy our own. If you needed a different size, it took about 2 months for the company to process that, but it was a waste of time anyway because all of them were cut to fit different sizes of rectangular boxes rather than human beings. It’s been four years since I worked there, and to this day I am still jealous when I see nurses in really cute scrubs. And by really cute, I mean you can tell they are female somewhere under there and their scrubs probably did not begin life as a neglected potato sack.