Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Beat That My Heart Skipped

I've got a longish post in the works (tentatively "Why We Kill Mice") but what with the care and feeding of my strange uncle and various amusements my posting schedule languishes. Perhaps this weekend. In the meantime a small anecdote of science terror from just this afternoon.

Email from the lab underboss: ATTENTION ANIMAL USERS.

"Dear All,

Recently, 50 mice have been found dead in their cages due to a lack of ventilation from their Thoren-unit. The Thoren-unit had been unplugged accidentally."

A Thoren-Unit:


These steel behemoths can hold up to 600 mice and about half as many rats. They've got wheels to move em about and hookups to automated water and food systems and the previously mentioned ventilation system.

I was certain that once again I had accidentally murdered dozens and dozens of my mice. It's hard to explain the exact combination of feelings I had at that moment which is why I wish I spoke German. Terror-shame, hot buckets of it. I rushed to a fellow tech and told her to check her email.

She read and turned on me with the exact same look of Terror-shame writ large. "Oh my god she didn't say whose mice had died."
"I know, fuck, I moved a Thoren unit just yesterday."
"Me too. Fuck."
"Hey wait a sec,"She turned and looked at the screen. "Did you actually read this?"
I looked where she was pointing, one very important word above her well trimmed fingernail. Where I had read 'mice' it actually said 'rats'. We had no rats in our colonies, only mice. We chuckled nervously and then pondered why she seemed to get an allergic reaction to something in the lab every day at 4 in the afternoon.

So like a Latin dictator I was seeing enemies in every corner, and that would normally concern me. But at that moment I was pleasantly whelmed with relief. Someone we didn't know was having a shitty shameful day, wondering if they were about to lose their job. And that was a nice change of pace.

Also, this.

3 comments:

Disco Stu said...

"It's hard to explain the exact combination of feelings I had at that moment which is why I wish I spoke German."

That is a beautiful, beautiful line.

Melancholic Goat said...

Way to keep your mice alive dude! High five!

The Silly Addiction said...

Have you double-checked that you didn't mistakenly order rats instead of mice? Because you could still be to blame for this. I'm just sayin'.