Monday, January 17, 2005

The great smell of Pledge

At our weekly departmental meeting, our HOD announced that the head of a very important medical charity would be visiting our university. He requested that: A) People go to the labs instead of sitting in the offices playing computer solitaire. B) Once in the labs, they put on a lab coat and did something useful. This is exactly the sort of motivational speech that will send everyone scurrying to the sanctuary of the tea room (and so it proved).

The next day, the VIP arrived, greeted by the unmistakeable aromas of recently employed cleaning products. They probably should have given him a pair of bowling shoes for his visit because the floor was so shiny. Unfortunately he arrived precisely at the time when most people in the building were having a tea break. Even worse it was "biscuit" day so the tea room was heaving with human gannets. Hopefully the VIP was impressed by the clean but empty labs, and the high level tea room discussions being held between the motivated staff. Fantasy conversation-"I have been doing experiments through the night, and this is my first break for food and drink". Real conversation -"These custard creams are a bit stale aren't they?" or "I can't believe it. They finally moved all that crap that was outside the lab."

Ultimately my fate does not lie with impressing a big wig with the great smell of pledge. No the power lies with those anonymous folks who review my grants. Maybe they need their furniture polishing too?


Blogger pogo said...

Heheh, you're (slightly) fortunate in that at least you don't have a bunch of venture capitalists to impress.

I was thinking about your earlier post - I wonder what would happen if there was a National No Paperwork Day? Imagine that - the whole of the UK just being busy doing real work for a day. We'd probably achieve so much that we could have the rest of the week off. But of course we'd need to write reports analysing "lessons learned" from our day of extraordinary productivity.

18 January 2005 at 10:27  
Blogger Chromatin said...

It's a sad fact of the public services, that a sure/first sign of someone important visiting is when actual, proper cleaning and painting take place. Have you been having races on the shiny floors? (for research purposes, of course).

19 January 2005 at 19:50  
Blogger Professor Xavier said...

Hmmm............a no paperwork day, what a nice idea! Actually, it would be nice in some ways if we did just go back to paper without using computers. These have enabled people to design monstrous documents, that are emailed to you so that it's your rather than their printer ink that is wasted.

As for shiny floors, they didn't last. Cleaning staff have migrated south for the winter, and a residue of tea, coffee, fizzy drink is building up. Mouldy tupperware and vintage BHS cutlery have also reappeared. Maybe I will propose a "spring cleaning day" at our next Building Committee meeting?

19 January 2005 at 21:05  

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