Your roots are showing, dear…

With a major construction project underway for my laboratory, many offices have been relocated in a “musical chairs” dance that was underway before i arrived in my new job last June.  We have now reached the steady-state condition for the next two years, which has all of the “Management-Like Objects” working out of modular offices, located in the parking lot. 

Trailers*. These are the things that are rented out as temporary offices, classrooms, or as construction site headquarters. Ours are quite nice, but have been around the block a few times. Literally.  They are not new… but they are cushy!  

It’s a “Quintuple-wide” — five modules, with over twenty individual offices, a kitchenette and a conference room!  i was mostly excited that the ladies room has THREE STALLS!  Of the twenty managers/tech advisors in the modular offices?  There are only three women – we can each have our own toilet! Luxury! 

Recent events, however, have truly exposed my trailer park origins to my new colleagues.  If they weren’t sure what they were dealing with before?  They are now… 

Incident A:  The Wednesday before Christmas Eve, there were only a few of us in the office. Our Division Admin, Allen, had brought in a 12-pack of Sam Adam’s finest lager to celebrate the holiday. As the five of us gathered in the kitchenette area, we realized we didn’t have a bottle opener. Rooting through the kitchen drawers, i found a couple of cork screws, some old plumbing parts, but no bottle opener.  

“Wait?  Plumbing parts?”  Looking again, i saw what it was…  a small bit of tygon tubing, attached to a copper “L-joint”, which was covered by a plastic bag.  Oh shit.  i knew what it was.  Without thinking, i pulled it from the drawer, pulled off the plastic bag and took a sniff… A one-hit pipe.  Loaded with burnt weed!  SHIT, SHIT and DOUBLE SHIT!  

Of the five of us assembled, only Allen realized what i’d just found…  we had to explain it to the other guys, and then figure out what to do with it.  My fingerprints were all over it, so the initial thought of putting it on the boss’ desk was discarded quickly.  Obviously leftover from a prior occupant, we disposed of the contraband, but not before ol’ daisyfae got tagged as “worldly”.  

Incident B:  Returning to my trailer office after a lunch hour visit to the gym, i was surprised to see a gaggle of nerds huddling outside the adjacent office.  There was an adorable young man in the middle of the pack, furiously wedging a piece of plastic in the door jamb.  “VK has locked his keys in his office, and there is no spare”.  Dropping my purse, shoes and coat in my office, i went to look.  The adorable young man was from the facilities office, and had managed to get his personal ID card wedged in the door attempting to slide open the lock.   

With the modular offices, each door lock system was different, so i went to find a similar door lock on an open office.  Getting the ‘lay of the door’, i then went to the supply cabinet, looking for a long, flexible metal ruler.  Striking out, i found a workable piece of hard plastic. 

Adorable Facilities Boy and i jimmied with the lock a bit, but it still wouldn’t budge.  The “manly men” were now arriving, with screwdrivers and pry bars and were planning to somehow disassemble the door.  Regrouping momentarily, one of the nerdier guys, RD,  and i went back to look at the other door… 

We realized we’d have a shot at going “up and over”, through the drop ceiling with a coat hanger to open the handle from the inside.  But it was a “pull down” handle…  Rather than up and over?  Under and up!  Scavenging a couple of metal hangers, i built the tool quickly, as the testosterone-level outside the door was rising at an alarming rate… they were prying the door frame… 

RD and i stepped up, and i informed them to turn down the “Man Factor” momentarily, as we were “going MacGyver on that bad boy”.  Laughing, one of the guys looked at his watch and said “You’ve got 20 seconds before the bomb goes off… GO!”  Fifteen seconds later?  i slid the coat hanger under the door, hooked it, pulled down, and popped the door open – under the direction of RD, who was peeking through the window.  

No blood, no guts, and no permanent damage to a rented trailer.  Adorable Facilities Boy high-fived me, and suggested we keep my tool as a “spare key” if needed again… 

But it was the comment i dropped this morning at the staff meeting that sealed it… 

Incident C:  There have been serious budget cuts over the past year.  With the start of the new year, our janitorial services contract has been scaled back.  We are now responsible for “Self-Trashing”.  Rather than have our custodian empty our office trash cans, we are expected to tie them neatly, and take them to a central covered office dumpster, which will be emptied weekly. 

Naturally, there was a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, but we all know that it’s not negotiable.  My suggestion:  “Can’t we just throw it on the lawn?  It IS a trailer, right?” 

On Bubba, On Billy Bob...

* For the past year, on all planning documents, they were referred to as the “Wind-Relocatables”, or “METH LAB Division”, for “Modular Exploratory Technology Housing – Labs and Bureaucracy” Division. i placed the ceremonial “Pink Flamingos” beside the door on my first day in the trailers…