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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

It's been a tough year for the Cargo Cult Scientist. He started his blog because he ended his last job. He hasn't found a new job. Money is running out and soon the retirement accounts will have to be emptied to save the house. After the retirements money is gone, the house will have to be sold. But I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I was raised a tough guy. We didn't cry. You are in control of your life. When life hands you lemons you fucking make lemonade!!!

Alright, I am feeling sorry for myself. I have applied for everything you can imagine, not just biotech. I had a phone interview with a company that washes yachts. Each morning you get in your own little boat and hit the various marinas around the area to wash yachts and give tune-ups. I was ready to hang up my career and do some real work for a change. They told me they were worried I'd just leave as soon as I got a biotech offer. The pay started at 11 dollars an hour. Still, I was disappointed by this rejection. I could just see myself heading out in darkness and fog at 7 a.m. I wanted to get out there and smell the Puget Sound and look up at the cars on the I-5 as they crawled along to their miserable jobs. It still hurts. I even wrote them back asking for reconsideration. Nothing.

I believed that biotech needed scientists who knew all about DNA, proteins and how to study them. I'm quite sure the HR lady, who was so smug as I left the building at my last job, had a degree in liberal arts. She once told us how she was going to see to it that "this company becomes a huge success." I'm thinking, why don't you see to it that MetLife pays my dental bill so I don't get sued! We had a little pissing contest before I left. She was trying to show me how much more she knew about the business. "Do you have any experience with in vivo animal cells?" "Do you mean mammalian cells inside an animal?" We just stared at each other. Prior to hearing "in vivo animal cells" I had no reason to dislike her. On my way out the door, with my box of belongings we smiled at each other under a cloud of mutual resentment.

I made a mistake. I entered a field where PhDs are made into supervisors instead of talented and experienced researchers. I've had to explain DNA chromatograms to senior level scientists who list molecular biology as part of their expertise. I've had to explain the development of an ELISA assay to the director of QA. His development procedures usually began by purchasing the assay from Amersham then changing a buffer or two. I've spent 6 months trying to get difficult concepts into the heads of cubicled science people only to start all over when the lawyer joined in on the meetings. Now it's all over. The industry only wants younger kids to come in and do the lab work. They're cheaper. Anyone can do the work.

I'll give thanks when and if they let this crash test dummy out of this car that is speeding towards the wall. I continue to play the game of hide and seek a living wage. Until then I am thankful to the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins Colorado for making Fat Tire beer. I may not make any money but I can't go back to Pabst Blue Ribbon. I haven't sunk that far yet.

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