by Steve West on November 14, 2009
I've had a few jobs that were pretty bad or at least aspects of them. We've probably all had crappy jobs like working in a kitchen or stuff that's just unpleasant or had difficult co-workers. The worst thing I was required to do was when I was working at the Department of Agriculture. They do a large number of nutrition studies and require human subjects. Essentially, we provided the diet and they supplied the well... output. The scientists involved had no need for urine but were interested in blood and feces. Primarily feces.
In order to gauge where their regular diet ended and where the provided diet began, the first meal included a dye tablet that turned their fecal matter greenish-blue. My job was guess what? Yes, separating the old doody from the new. Then taking the new doody and adding distilled water and blenderizing it into one giant doody shake that could be analyzed for mineral content, lipids, and other stuff.
One day, with the lead scientist assisting, we were busy blenderizing. We stored the subjects' output in a walk-in refrigerator in heavy duty plastic jars with screw tops. Later, these jar contents would be broken down into smaller servings and then freeze-dried. Yeah, had that job, too. But on the aforementioned day, there was a small accident. The lead scientist (a wonderful woman I still love) dropped one of the jars of doody goo. It landed squarely on its bottom and all the pressure of the impact was directed straight upwards. The lid practically hit the ceiling and a geyser of mud lava erupted from the jar. We always wore spacesuits while performing this job and triple surgical masks with perfume in between the layers. Despite this, she was horror stricken because she was standing in the middle of this liquified doody lake and severely spotted with splashback. I gentlemanly, almost heroically, volunteered to take care of the mess. She was really, visibly shaken. Not just by her own error but by either having to clean things herself or having someone else do such a distasteful thing because of her blunder.
Years later, I still have powerful memories of that day. I still sense the sight and smell of it all. It still makes me desire an immediate shower. Or four. This picture is the closest I can relate to the experience.
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