If my calculations are correct, I've known Gary since we were freshman in high school and I'm fairly sure he can tell A FEW stories about me - but he doesn't! So, he must be a GOOD friend. I'm genuinely grateful for social media that allows me to connect to old pals. If he doesn't unfriend me from all of those sites, I'll consider this blog post viable.
One of my greatest life lessons occurred when I agreed to help my friend, Gary, with his college job. Gary was the person who taught me to always ask questions before you give an enthusiastic, "Yessirree, I'm your gal" type answer to any request.
Gary was working in the Psych lab while attending classes at the university in our home town. One day, he asked if I would be willing to cover his job at the Psych lab while he was out of town. I'm not sure why he chose me; I'll say it was because I'm his friend and I love animals. Yeah, I'll go with that story.
Off to the lab we went. Gary planned to give me an explanation of what needed done, with me knowing very little about what to expect. It turns out, a Psych lab is pretty cool. Animals used in behavioral studies populate this lab. So far, so good. The blackboard displayed an entertaining array of Psychology major graffiti, like: "My mother made me a homosexual" (Underneath, someone added, "If I get her the material, could she make me one, too?").
All along a wall there were rows and rows of of gerbil cages that were like shoebox sized drawers. It seemed pretty interesting (I might actually be the right person for the job!). Gary proceeded to explain the basic feeding and watering and then the last step: checking for newborn baby gerbils.
Gerbils are fond of the big families. Apparently, Psych-folk have to keep really accurate records on the gerbil births to make sure they don't use related animals in the experiments. And now, I would have to do that, too. Carefully, Gary picked up a pink ball of wriggly gerbil flesh and proceeded to tell me it's gender. At that moment, I realized just how small gerbil "gender-parts" are...really, really small. I fear I projected naked gerbil shame on that poor little critter; I wondered if I could bring gerbil lounge pants and nighties to make us both more comfortable. Fortunately, it all gets easier after the first 50 or 60 drawers are checked. Gerbils are breeding fools.
Then we proceeded to the Rat Room. That's right, R A T. Injection time for the big boys and girls of the Psych lab. These things were huge with big, hairless, pink tails that whipped me like I had just led a failed pirate mutiny. Creepy is an understatement. In retrospect, I thought Gary had told me that we needed to give the injections in the tail. I can still see the movement of his lips in ultra-slow-mo recall as they formed the word "intraperitoneally."
"Yessirree, I'm your gal!" No, I did not say that. Get a grip, peeps. When I came out of the catatonic stare I was giving Gary, I immediately started calculating...really, how good of a friend is Gary? Counting my close friends on my fingers, I wondered: Can he be replaced? Will he badmouth me to all the good people of Youngstown, Ohio? Will they believe it? Do I really care, at this point? If I run, am I close to a bus that will take me back to my neighborhood? If I have to, I could give up the car parked at the university...you can buy a car anywhere...
Darn it, why do I always follow through with a promise, that seems awfully overrated...
To wrap this tale up: yes, I helped inject the rats. And I did cover Gary's job while he was away. I willingly pried into the private business of the gerbils. Just once. Er, once per gerbil is more accurate, I suppose.
Perhaps this will help my younger friends understand why I ask for specifics before I volunteer.