Housekeeping? Labkeeping?

When you walk into someone’s house, there’s one thing that you automatically notice. And that is whether the house is cleaner, messier, or just about the same level of cleanliness as your place.

And at messy places, you know that the place is either occupied by a group of people who pretend to genuinely cherish messiness, or a group of people who just don’t get along with each other because of their differences in housekeeping rules.

I mean, no one wants to be always on duty to clean other people’s mess and no one wants to always do other people’s dishes. But everyone wants to have not-so-overflowing garbage bags to throw your garbage into whenever you are in need of disposing not-so-desirable items, and everyone wants a clean set of dishes and utensils for those sensitive times when you are hungry enough to kill someone for a bowl of instant noodles served in a bowl (not a plate, and not the same bowl with your roommate’s last night’s instant noodles in it).

At these sensitive times, I often find that people reach a level of anger that either explodes, or gets bottled up and transformed into a series of revenge against roommates (i.e., a whole bunch of dirty dishes left in the sink for the roommate to use, and your clean dishes stacked away and hidden safely in your closet for only you to use).

It’s kind of the same for labs.

There’s always housekeeping (or, may I suggest, labkeeping) things that can get annoying.

What about the CARIS lab (the lab I call home these days)? Well… my lab is not an exception. Although my labmates don’t really reach the gotta-revenge type stage of housekeeping problems, we recently did have a sensitive issue surrounding an organic compost bin we implemented at the beginning of the summer. I guess trying out the compost program in the summer was a bad idea, since the custodians stopped emptying the organic compost bins nearby, and so, we stopped emptying the compost bin in the lab… But… that didn’t stop us from continuing to throw stuff into the compost bin… until… until the amount of courage required to open the lid of the bin exceeded all labmates’ maximum willingness to be environmentally friendly.

The compost bin that contained food waste from the lab for months over the summer.

This resulted in a family (and, might I add, its members’ extended families) of fruit flies happily moving into the lab and joining the lab’s robotics research. Now that we have so many new brains literally surrounding us, we should be able to do much more creative and innovative research… right?…

Anywho, we’ve decided at the last week’s lab meeting that we’d decommission the compost bin. And I got pulled into the job. Yuk! But as the person who brought it into the lab in the first place, I guess I am responsible for getting rid of it.

The compost bin had been sitting at a corner of our lab, right next to a robot that was decommissioned a while back (even before my time). By the mere picture of the bin, you probably don’t understand the fear I felt when I lifted it, and realized how full the bin was (and has been for the many many months).

Luckily, while I finally had the courage to empty it of its guts — the food waste that potentially has become a complex mixture of bio-hazards — I ran into one of the ICICS custodians. Oh man, the custodians at the ICICS building are so nice. They always say hi to me whenever they see me at the lab or in the hallways, and they are always so friendly.

And today, the custodian helped me empty the guts straight into a heavy duty black garbage bag even without me asking. He even took it to the custodian room and cleaned it for me at one of the wash stations where they have a magical hose that pumps out warm soapy water on demand. I was prepared to be the martyr of the day, and had prepared myself a wimpy plastic grocery bag. But before the cleaning process begun, I had not realized that I may have needed an extra bag to throw up.

I really could not thank him enough. And since he totally saved my day, I will extend his¬†generosity¬†to the blog’s audience by not posting pictures of what the compost bin really contained.

Now that the compost bin is clean and empty, I am ready to call ‘Not it!’ for further labkeeping duties for this month.

Cleaned and cleared of its bio-hazard containment duties...

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