So I borrowed some glassware.
I borrowed some glassware because I am involved in the Human Powered Vehicle†* project. Some people on another HPV team suggested that we use butyl acetate for fusing sheets of styrofoam together. Unfortunately, buying butyl acetate is difficult. So the professor for whom I TAed this semester suggested I synthesize it. For this purpose, he loaned me some glassware.
Earlier this week, I was looking at glassware online, for myself, as I might like to do some distilling at home at some point in the future. I stumbled across the very kit I had been loaned. The price tag: CAD $788.
I didn't end up having to do the reaction — ethyl acetate seems to work well enough and is cheaply and readily available at the chemical store at the university. As soon as I realized that I wouldn't need to actually use the glassware, I decided to return it.
I tried several times each day this week but the lab tech who is in charge of the glassware was not in her office.
In the meantime, the kit lived in my lab on top of a hutch on the vacant desk next to mine. Safe, right?
My roommate and labmate, K, came home today and informed me that she had a rather crazy story to tell me. It turns out that one of the postdocs in the lab happened to lean against the aforementioned hutch at which point it collapsed. And down came cradle, glassware and all. Apparently there was almost nothing left.
So, best case, I look like an irresponsible tool and nobody ever trusts me with lab equipment again. Worst case, I have to pay for the equipment and nobody ever trusts me to TA again. I am invigilating an exam for that professor tomorrow, so I will find out my fate then.
I remember my dad once telling me, "eat a dead frog in the morning and it's the worst thing that will happen to you all day."
I also remember, even at a tender young age, responding, "Yeah, well, eat a live frog in the morning and it's the worst thing that'll happen to the frog for the rest of the day."
* Frankly, it should be called the Human Powered Bicycle competetion, but given that bicycles are human powered by nature, it sounds a bit stupid.
† We are well aware that HPV has other definitions which have... less than savoury connotations. We sort of revel in it.