Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Can you give me a hand?

Our lab, as I have mentioned, was on the ground floor. Well, I probably called it the basement, but actually it was on the ground floor. It turns out there was a real basement in our building that I truly didn’t know about for at least three years. I walked into the building every single day and went up the four stairs to get to the main floor without noticing that there was also a staircase that went down. But those four stairs meant that the first floor was slightly above ground level, and our lab was actually at ground level, so it felt like the basement. Plus, no windows.

But the actual point is that our lab was right across from the loading dock. But sometime in my fourth year, they closed the loading dock so they could start work on a new building. This meant that the delivery guys had a huge headache every time they came to our building, because loading docks are nice because they are right at truck-bed level. Without a loading dock, they had to get the stuff off the truck and onto the ground before bringing it in the building. And, since we were the first door that the delivery guys found when they got to the building, we got a lot of questions about receiving packages.

Sometimes they just wanted to know how to find a room. Sometimes they needed to find the freight elevator. Sometimes they wanted us to sign for something, regardless of to whom it was addressed. And sometimes they wanted us to find them the dolly.

But, you see, that wasn’t really our job. Now, we’re not jerks. If they needed to know where the freight elevator was, no problem. But, as grad students, we weren’t really supposed to be accessing the facilities store room and taking out the dolly without permission. Nor did we have keys to the forklift.

But my favorite request for assistance was the time a delivery guy wanted help lifting something off the truck. This was not an item for us, mind you. It was being delivered to someone else in the building. But we got a knock on the door, and when I answered it, a very stressed out man asked me if I knew where Room 246 was. I directed him. Then he asked me if I could help him lift something out of the truck. Me, being the helpful, kind person that I am, figured, sure, why not? Mostly because I was caught off guard, and I don’t know how to say no.

“It weighs eight pounds,” he said, warningly.

Thinking this guy was a huge wuss for not being able to lift eight pounds by himself, I said that was OK and started to leave the lab. But The Doktah, who had overheard the conversation, came over and placed a restraining hand on my arm.

“How much did you say it weighs?” she asked the delivery guy.

“Eight hundred pounds.”

“Um,” I said. “I really don’t think I can help you with that,” I told him.

What kind of person finds a random stranger and asks for help moving an eight hundred pound object? Eight hundred pounds? What exactly was he expecting me to do? I mean, I know I was in pretty decent shape at the time, what with tae kwon do and all, but come on.

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