4 June 2010 01:47 A day in the lab


Monday morning, like every other day, leave apartment by 9:30am. Drop by a beverage stall to spend two pennies for a sweet beverage drink and then steal one moment off-course daydreaming about some other guy I met the other day. Nicely placing the pennies on the desk and gently push towards the lady as she delivers me my order. 9:50am, walking into the computer network building, a button pressed and then the elevator drops down 8 floors right at that moment. Doors swing open mechanically and I step into the elevator waiting to be delivered to my destined 8th floor`s confinement. As the seconds struck at 52, out of the elevator I continue to walk pass several closed doors along the corridor, until I reach the door at the end. Effortlessly putting my left hand on the door knob to open it as it`s being turned opened simultaneously at the other side of the door. The first morning greeting finally arrives giving a hint of a familiarness of me with this official confinement. “Hi, 學姐(senior)” and a smile full of upper teeth is always my policy of nice-to-meet-you day-and-night. Settle my butts on the one armed chair and turn on my mini laptop, taking out the straw and then poke a hole into the sweet beverage to take a sip of the wonder of black tea with less sugar and less icy daily formulation. The legacy of this daily enchanting social yet self-indulging behaviour is a sense of liberation sealed under the name of our official sign that reads “Lab of Biomedical Technology”. Here resides the modern technology and with it the hands that work by skills. The mere symbol of the kind of technology we have here is intrguing enough for me, but what`s more fascinating is the fact that most lab-bers, as I`d love to call them, work round the clock, even if the earth`s lattitudes and longitudes are changing our horizons, rains pouring down and rainbows having long faded over the blue heaven, even if cirrus or cumulonimbus clouds are ruling one side of the sky above us, we, the people that`s inside here will never know what`s the weather like outside.

Still going through a list of stuffs of my daily task on a memo, let`s see…”arranging a time for discussion with professor” “the vector for cloning needs to be prepared right away” “today I`ll have to give calls to several companies regarding summer classes” “finally, ahhhh! almost forgot I have to collect cells instantly by the way!” Right instantly, right at that very moment down to the milliseconds of a fraction of my life, seems like my real day has only just begun and has begun as usual like any other day. Quickly as I lift open my pencil case and hand myself a nice pilot pen to scribble down a few notes concerning the protocol I`m about to perform. Then taking half a minute to think over the details before allowing my steadfast shoulder length strides across the room to get to the cell culture room where my first morning task will be carried out. 10:00am, reads the digital clock on my cell phone. No way no way, 30 minutes have passed of the originally scheduled time, I`m already way too late for my first task. No time to linger or I`d have to hope for the worst. Out come several tubes as I try to rush them out of the fridge to restore their temperature to 37`C in a water bath. Oh, man, wish I could do that in less than a minute! How could I have forgotten it in the first place? Without allowing any further thought in my head, got to move on right away before it gets in line with my second task of the day. Blame the night, that it was so dark, so dreamy, so full of fantasies that my mind gets interrupted easily. That slumber must have gotten so deep and taken away with it my short-term memories. As soon as I have finished with the cells, I move on to my next several businesses by hanging around with the phone clumped between my ear and my shoulder, a list of numbers on my left hand and a pen on my right hand, by mixing several micro-sized ingredients one by one in the molecular zone, then by going through pages of notes with information that was to be further discussed with my supervisor.The scene in the lab is seemingly occupied by a bunch of chaotic, occasionally bump-ins between 2 or more lab-bers on the run, frequent flip-flops of the sandals, clig-clogs of the medium-height heels, constant bangings of the front door and also foot stampings of the pedal control which opens the electronic door. However frenzy it seems to be, when one is in this happening surface, one will never notice the scale of this frenziness unless one is seeing through a magnifying glass or listening through a magnifying audio system. It is that much going on in here yet there is not much going on. Like having one side of a story seen and told while the other side of the story remains untold.

Having done these, hours of the day have almost passed by, rendering hours to the evening and dark night. 18:10, reads the digital clock. It`s time for dinner, a refreshing taste to my after-all-day-work`s delight. I can miss lunch or breakfast, but dinner, I`ll be salutating it with my spoon along with chopsticks with my every heart and every soul. Foods are for thoughts and any lab-bers will need them. Well, in fact, any one will need them coz this is how our cells live. All cells require nutrients, even the cells in the lab are fed by us humans.

At night after dinner, I continue to run several tasks before I finally pack my things and return to my apartment. 11:00pm, reads the clock. On my way back, I`d tend to forget about all the worries or troubles in the lab and just keep myself pre-occupied with the outside world. The quiet and beautiful cemented lane that leads to my place, the crescent moon that shines in the night sky, the dog-walkers and the dogs without owners  that wander and take pride in every street they cross. All these sceneries make a strikingly sharp contrast to my daily life in the lab, these happening surfaces  are blessings to my eyes and make me feel like I could ask for no more. This is a great sense of freedom, great freedom, without any strings attached! As all have been seen along the way, finally, I`ve reached my place. Once again, I`m relaxing with my back leaned against the chair with a slightly-felt thin cushion, which is more than I could ever wanted for a stiff and strained back.

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