Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Am a Not-So-Glorified and Unpaid Custodian

wnat I did not see in my first two days of my lab internship

Regarding my lab internship,  I expected to do a great deal of filling people's coffee orders and general  gopher work.  I didn't expect to spend my entire day putting on rubber gloves and a mask covering my mouth and nose, sealing and disposing of wastetbasket liners of biohazardous materials all over the building, and then removing the gloves and scrubbing my hands for a full five minutes, then removing the facial mask.  My next job was to clean the restrooms on Floor #1. Following the restroom-cleaning procedure, I repeated the biohazardous wasted disposal procedure, followed again by the cleaning of restrooms on Floor #2.

My father is not happy with this situation. He sayys that despite the fact that I am his daughter and have been looking through microscopes since I was two, he didn't expect that the lab would have me imnediately counting white blood cells to determine the presence of appendicitis or lack thereof, but he did not think I would be relegated to full-scale custodial duties and that, furthermore, no one who is unpaid who isn't at least a second-year medical school student and hasn't signed tons of waivers should be handling biohazardous waste.  He also said the facility is negligent in not also requiring eye covering, as the pathogens with which I was likely dealing  can also become airborne and enter the body through the eyes.

I told him I'd buy my own pair of goggles, but he said they need to be disposable, and a fresh pair needs to be put on each time after I've scrubbed up.

My dad is calling the professor who arranged this internship to find out how many students he has sent there and how many have reported anything back to him. He also plans to drop in on me at work next Tuesday. I told him that if he  really wants to find me working under the conditions I was working under yesterday and the day before, it would be wise to wait until he has visited the lab while I'm there before calling the professor.

My surname isn't common and my father should be known to the more important people at the lab, but it's possible that those low enough in the chain of command to supervise interns would have no idea of my father's eminence in his field. It's also possible that they do, and they're taking it out on me, though I highly doubt it.  In any event, I suspect my final day of interning at that particular facility will be Tuesday.  I told my dad what my schedule was for last Tuesday and Wednesday.  He plans to walk in on me while I'm handling biohazardous wastes.  He doesn't usually throw his weight around, but he may if he sees what he would have seen yesterday or the day before.

It's actually not the nepotistic aspect of this that bothers me as much as the idea that  those who have no connections have had little or no choice but to tolerate what is essentially workplace abuse in an unpaid setting.

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