That era formed a big chunk of my life. Physiology, wildlife, the community of academic and applied scientists. Like all groups formed around a field of study, we had our jargon, our in-jokes. We once went around a party of Zoology & Physiology types and asked each person there this question: if you saw a dead animal by the side of the road, what would you do with it?
Yeah, see – a lot of you out there are kind of squinting at the screen now and saying, “um, do with it?”
The only people at the party who did not say “take it home and put it in the freezer” were spouses. For years I had any number of dead animals in my freezers, both at home and in various lab spaces. People sometimes asked me if they could put frozen dead animals in the Physiology lab chest freezers, because we always had extra space.
What? They might come in useful.
I still have a bobcat skull that I spent months cleaning.
At any rate, I thought of this the other day when the HVAC guy came. Don’t ask – just cross your fingers that our heat-exchanger isn’t cracked. He looked at the tag from the gas service showing the very high CO values they’d picked up when we called them and asked me if the gas company had explained what those high values meant. I scrambled for a way to respond and fell back on “We’re both scientists, so…” HVAC guy nodded.
It’s something I want to say sometimes, like when the dental hygienist is explaining in painstaking detail about gum health – and sometimes getting it wrong – that I’m a physiologist and I already understand about epidermal layers. It makes me wish for a t-shirt like my friend’s bumper sticker, back in Wyoming:
BACK OFF, MAN! I’M A SCIENTIST
This classic line, of course, brought to you by Dr. Peter Venkman of the Ghostbusters. Which should tell you right there that it was being used to justify somewhat un-scientific activities.
Still, it’s a great line and an even better attitude.
Maybe I’ll get a tattoo…