Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I vant to be alone

You're invading my workspace and not giving me any privacy. 
And I know this movie sucks compared to the original -- 
what do you want me to do about it? (Photo credit: filmcritic.com)
If you've ever worked in an laboratory environment with an open floor plan, it's a rather nice place for an open discussion. If, however, you'd like to have a private conversation, perhaps a private phone conversation with a potential new employer, that's pretty difficult, if not impossible.*

In the restaurant business, it always seems to happen in the walk-in refrigerator -- you've got yourself a small private space that's relatively unseen (although there's the temperature factor.) Biology labs usually have a cold room, but chemistry labs don't. 

In any laboratory/office environment, there's usually one or two places where a private five minute conversation or a uninterrupted twenty-minute phone call can happen without the hustle and bustle of a lab surrounding the situation. It's always my goal to find that place when I need it (not very often, these days, I hope.) 

Readers, where's your secret spot? (don't worry -- I won't tell anybody. :-)

*N.B. to people doing phone interviews: it is IMPERATIVE that you find yourself a private spot to have your phone interview. Even if you're not distracted by your background noise, your interviewer will be. What do you want them focusing on -- your voice or the noise of the diaphragm pump in the background? 

18 comments:

  1. I usually find a quiet moment in the kitchen when the microwave's heating my lunch.

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  2. I heard of two lovers/postdocs in a organic semiconductor lab who were passionately making out in the clean room, right against the spin-coating machine.

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  3. Empty meeting rooms are good, but keep an eye on the clock. Most meetings start on the hour or half hour, so if the room is empty at 5 after or 35 after, you've got it for at least 25 minutes.

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  4. Hmmm.... I prefer making out in the elevator, but you've got to be quick (unless the building is really tall).

    Yes, yes. I wrote that for its humorous qualities.

    Seriously though, I'm still in academia and nothing beats after 12 am. Everyone is gone. Even the really annoying people who you feel are trying to stay until the last minute on purpose just to make your life miserable. Then you're all alone to do experiments or call somebody on the phone for a private conversation if you wish.

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  5. Readers are apparently amorously-minded this morning. I confess I have never been able to uh, instigate anything in the lab, ever. Sad.

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  6. Your car in the parking lot is an excellent place for a phone conversation.

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  7. In my old lab we had a small kitchen separate from the labs & offices. Unfortunately we also stored our liquid nitrogen tanks there, which had a habit of unexpectedly venting. They were quite loud.

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  8. Ha-ha! Open floor plan, paper-thin walls in the office, zero cell phone reception and an IT dept that logged every keystroke. Check.

    Hiding is plain sight, that's how.

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  9. I've used the NMR room for private phone calls on several occasions.

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  10. I dare say loading docks and equipment storage sheds are my preferred sites

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  11. To clarify above: for phone calls, not for making out...

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  12. Back in grad school, the rear of the Chemistry Department led to a parkland with plenty of secluded paths. I often doubled-up private conversations with therapeutic walks. Anyway, I liked this version "No Reservations"...a dash of Catherine Zeta-Jones makes EVERYTHING better!

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  13. @SAO: Was going to say, dude, you know how to show a girl a good time.

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  14. In grad school, the chemistry building clock tower was a preferred spot - at least two of the people from my group made some use of it (apparently they left remainders). At work, supposedly the landing above the top floor used to be a site for private, um, meetings, but it seems precarious because the maintenance staff goes to the roof sporadically, let alone the noise conduction of the stairwells.

    If you were a woman, the lactation room might be a good spot to make phone calls, but for guys? I don't actually know one - maybe the smoking area (if it's not frigid). The offices (at least we have them) have the sound insulation capacity of toilet paper rolls (parallel and not perpendicular to the major axis).

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  15. Isn't that exactly where they'd put the microphones? ;)

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  16. At my lab, there is what I call the "phone booth," which isn't really a phone booth. It's the space outside the office door in between two buildings on a staircase. everyone uses it for personal phone conversations. It feels private in the phone booth, but maybe I am kidding myself.

    One of my favorite things at work is when people have very loud conversations on work phones in high traffic areas about things that are generally kept private... criminal records, family member drama, appointments, etc. It adds intrigue to the workday. Nothin wrong with that!

    Hap: I wish there were more lactation rooms everywhere. Why not make them for men, too? With a little of the right stimulation, anyone can lactate!

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  17. I make my cell-phone calls from inside the solvent store.

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  18. Walk-in fridges and cold rooms are borderline useless for cell phone calls, in my experience. Faraday cage much?

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