“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov
The interesting thing about working at a university is how much information, equipment, and expertise is available to you. So when a plastic bag filled with large bones is found buried on the grounds, it’s the work of a moment to ask someone from Anthropology to come over and verify that they aren’t human. Just in case. Or, less professionally, when one is hungry, one can just scamper over to any of the cafes, food halls, or centers that provide sustenance for cheap prices.
Alternatively, using campus resources can often put one in an awkward situation.
In the library there is a very nice media lab where you can covert anything in any format to any other format you please. Now I’m pretty technologically illiterate, but even I can appreciate that sort of thing. And for the first time I got to use it yesterday when Lt. Citrus gave me a sack full of VHS tapes and told me to convert them to DVDs. How neat, thought I, and off I trotted.
I got a crash course in using the towering masses of machinery and, after snatching a book to keep me company (another benefit of a university setting), I got to work. There was a lot of loading/unloading tapes, keeping an eye on the screens, finalizing data, etc., but mostly it involved waiting for the tapes to run fully (which could last from a few minutes to a couple hours). And I even watched a couple: guy holding an audience hostage because God told him he was supposed to be supreme dictator or Earth, rioting at football games, your average wierdos…you know, the usual.
However there was some pretty dark stuff too and when converting those I taped paper over the screens (because I am of the somewhat old fashion opinion that an individual’s personal tragedy is nobody else’s damn business). During these tapes, I kicked back with my book until I was rudely disturbed but a gentleman marching up to me.
“You’ve been here for a long time,” he accused.
“Yes, and I apologize, but I am working on something important on behalf of the University. I’m nearly done. Do you need the machines?”
“No,” he said snappishly . “I just think you’re being inconsiderate taking up so much time.”
Not really prepared to handle this sort of time management vigilante-ism (side note – not one person had previously needed to use the machines or asked me when I would be done), I only blinked.
“You’re probably not even doing anything remotely important,” he continued, crossing his arms and turning up his nose. “What are you working on?”
I felt an eyebrow climb at his tone but answered in a chipper voice, “Well I’m transferring a video taken from a homicide scene investigation. Then I’ll have to transfer the autopsy tapes as well, care to watch?”
His eyes bugged for a moment and then he slunk off.
Like I said, the equipment and resources amassed here are fantastic, but the ability to see some people in all there snippy, self-important silliness might be my favorite part of my job after all.