Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Some people throw things into water, other people rescue things

The Short Reign of Pippin IV isn't among the best works of John Steynbeck. However, it contained a scene that impressed me. The main character, Pippin, once walked by a river and saw several young men dragging a statue to the water and an old man trying to stop them. Pippin rushed to help the old man but the result was that he was himself thrown into the water, together with the statue, after a little beating.
When the hooligans left, the old man helped Pippin come out of the water.
"Why did they throw the statue into the river?" Pippin asked.
"Some people just seem to like throwing things," the old man answered. "Besides this statue, they have thrown three more into the river. Here are the empty pedestals."
"I can go back into the water and look for the statues, I am all wet anyway."
"No, you shouldn't, you'll catch cold if you do. I'll take care. I do it regularly."
"Why do you do it?"
"Some people just rescue things."
"That's true, you rescued me as well. But why don't you attach the statues firmly to their pedestals?"
"Oh, you don't understand. If I do this, the youths will submerge them again, pedestals and all. And I am not sure I'll be strong enough to bring the statues out if they are with their pedestals."
I remembered this scene when I heard of recent events at my workplace. After I went into maternity leave, all reagents and equipments used by me remained under the care of my colleagues. Unfortunately, they weren't quite as caring as I had hoped. About a week ago, they discarded as unusable the refrigerator and a microscope, without informing me.
Happily, my colleagues and friends working in another room saw the refrigerator in the corridor and were quick to take action. They opened it and found it full of my bottles of reagents. The latter had spent God knows how long at room temperature and were covered by mould reaching centimeters in length.
My friends selected the reagents that looked saveable, brushed the mould off their packages and sheltered them in their regrigerator. They told me by the phone what had happened and suggested to check a small freezing camera where I also had reagents. Unlike the refrigerator, it wasn't presumed to be out of order. It was "just" disconnected from power supply and, again, there was no sensible explanation why.
As for the microscope, I had actually never used it. Its power supply had disappeared and, although I was planning to find a new one, I never found the time and money to do this before the maternity leave. I didn't even need this microscope because there was another, working one in my room. So I wasn't in a hurry and just left it stand quietly behind my back, doing absolutely no harm to anybody. Why was it scheduled for destruction? Don't ask me. Luckily, a younger colleague saw it in the corridor and took it to his room. However, in a striking resemblance to Steinbeck's story, he couldn't rescue the microscope stand because it was too heavy for him. I hope the microscope will be able to work well without its stand.

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