It started small. A 25 cm3 measuring cylinder vanished from my assigned locker after the first week of organic labs. Then it started getting cocky. A Liebig condenser and a separating funnel. In one fell swoop. The next week: gone. After six weeks of this irritating occurrence, my – lockable, please note, and I have the key – locker has lost probably half of its contents. My 100 cm3 measuring cylinder – gone. Beakers, round-bottomed and conical flasks of various sizes – gone. Even the funny glass sort-of-tubey thing that goes into a cold trap when doing suction recrystallization has gone.
And now I have my final lab day looming. Tomorrow, I have been warned, along with the rest of the Chemistry Crew, that we must hand in our locker keys, along with our completed Locker Checklist. Return It With Nothing Missing Off That List Or Die. Essentially, this was the message we were given. Which is really comforting, to say the least.
Key To The Solution?
I was made painfully aware of the fact that we were not the only holders of our own locker keys fairly early on. This was when I unlocked my locker in the second week of the course to find my stuff had moved. From one drawer to another. Shock horror, I know. But anyone who knows me will already be aware that homicidal urges accompany any unauthorised touching of My Stuff. Hence the “painfully”.
And I don’t know who else owns a key, although I would like to assume it’s only the saintly lab technicians who endure the pestering of eager first years with infinite patience (and the odd dirty look – but come on, they’re only human). Since they would have no reason to steal my stuff – as they’re the very people who would end up having to replace it anyway – it makes sense to rule them out as suspects.
Not Just Another Petty Crime Spree
Oh no. Since when is it ever that simple? There have been other blips in the system as well. And all of them, it seems, have happened to me. At the very start of the course, they told us that our lockers were pre-opened, to allow us to get started with our experiment straight away, and at some point, we needed to sign out our key. Naturally, mine wasn’t. And when I got it open, the lab scripts (that were supposed to be in there waiting for us to start jotting down observations) were missing. And it took a good chunk out of my experiment-ing time just getting hold of copies.
By the start of the next course, for which we were allowed to keep our original lockers and benches, we were supposed to find a new set of lab scripts in our lockers, along with a shiny new lab book specially designed for observations and calculations. An exercise book, in other words. But, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, life was not that easy for me. I opened my locker full of hope, like a kid at Christmas, to find a steaming pile of nothingness waiting for me. And boy, was I pleased. If I hadn’t been my usual anal self about starting a new course, then I would have been lost. But I had been very me about it, which is no great surprise, I imagine – since, you know, I am me, and all – so I had printed off every bit of information about the course beforehand… including the lab scripts.
A Growing Trend?
It turned out that I wasn’t the only one this had happened to. And one of the more sympathetic Saints of the Lab suggested that there were some shady Black-Market-esque dealings going on with the contents of various first-years’ lockers. I had to agree.
But I’m still no closer to finding the Lab Burglar, and with the Point of No Return growing ever closer, I’m becoming more and more accustomed to the prospect of the inevitable. The blame will fall on me. It’s unavoidable, sadly, and I doubt I will regain my Lab Safety Points by explaining that I appear to repel my lab equipment. We’re just too alike.
Sigh. The saga continues.