Competition Music!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Joined at the hip...? Thank goodness, no!

Everyone has one at least. They are those people who are part of the staff where we work who drive everyone else insane! Ours comes in the form of a diminutive Russian man with no concept of personal hygiene, or personal space. I shall refer to him as Mr. S.

Now, for some unknown reason, Mr. S seems to think that I am his best buddy. It's really quite a useful position to be in as he tends to control the flow of important hardware around our department, such as field equipment, laptops and the like. Being his chum (in the loosest sense of the word...) means that I normally have access to all these things with minimal effort.

On the down side, he seems to think that I go about my day, yearning to have conversations with him at close quarters...

A really good example of this occurred last week when he came to discuss some recording equipment with Megan. Megan is trying to record ultra-sonic communication in rodents as part of her MSc project. As a result, Mr. S has had dig up equipment that has not seen the light of day in eons. Last week, he brought the equipment down to our lab for her to try and figure out. Once he had dropped it all off and left, we spent the rest of our Monday afternoon fiddling with the various cables and microphones to try and get all of it to work.

By the end of that fiddling session, we had come to the conclusion that there were various pieces missing and that Megan would have to contact Mr. S and get him to find all the missing bits. Megan then contacted Mr. S and asked him to find the parts she needed which he did. This was then the beginning of the problem.

He arrived in our lab with a box of various cables. Because he and I are best buddies, he, now well enveloped in my personal space, began to ask me a barrage of questions about why I needed these cables and what it was that I was trying to do. I pointed out that I wasn't trying to do anything and that it was in fact Megan's project. However, with my pitifully minuscule knowledge of sound recording equipment, I managed to answer most of his questions.

He decided that the information that I had given him while Megan sat, somewhat anxiously yet a little deflated after being completely sidelined from her own research, in the background, was sufficient and that we had to go and see if one of the other staff members knew anything about the missing cables and how to work the contraption in the first place. Mr. S beckoned me to follow him, which I then echoed onto Megan and the three of us went a-wandering.

Mr. S also has an annoying habit of letting himself into peoples offices and labs without request, as he has a key for every room in our building. So, it was with a surprised and somewhat terrified face that we were greeted by the last staff member to have ever had anything to do with the equipment. After a good grilling from Mr. S, we left the bewildered staff member to return to our lab.

Upon our return to the lab, Mr. S continued to interrogate me as to what it was that I wanted to do. Again, I reinforced the point that it wasn't my project. As if oblivious to anything I had just said, he suggested that I look up the contraption on the Internet, which I dutifully did, seeing the opportunity as a chance to remove myself from his fetid aura (if you know what I mean...). So, at the comfort of my desk I began searching the net. To my horror, a dark, smelly presence took up residence on my left arm. Mr. S had realised that a small area of my desk was not being occupied by paper and felt that this was an open invitation to take up the space and direct my surfing over my shoulder. I found myself performing swimming breaths in order to remain consious at my laptop. Eventually, after about three web-pages had been thoroughly reviewed, he decided (thankfully!!!) that I was not achieving the results he desired and that he would find it all himself.

He departed, leaving a sniggering Megan and a shell-shocked me to breathe (literally). About 10 min later he reappeared with a large wad of paper which he claimed was the manual, printed off the internet.


  1. Haha! An ardant admirer! Woot!!!

    I always thought mr s was a former Russian nuclear scientist who deflected from the soviet republic

  2. I think he was...maybe not a nuclear scientist per se, but something equally above the heads of most of us. He does reminisce about the KGB and stuff, so it's possible...

  3. Our Mr S at UKZN is Mr H.

    He is as British as Mr S is Russian (or smelly...whichever is more powerful).

    I have to admit. Mr S is one of the people i don't really miss from Wits University.

    (btw. fetid aura...brilliantly put!)

  4. The worst is when he catches you in the passage and inches closer and closer... and you back away until you hit a wall and then your swimming breaths become a matter of necessity...