Friday, August 17, 2007

Letters work.

The president and service manager of my pest control company arrived yesterday while I was at work. They believe the gnat infestation was unrelated to their products, but "wanted to keep me as a customer not because I was contractually obligated but because they provided excellent services." After a considerable amount of talking (and once when I interrupted him because he was "irritating me by being condescending"), I told them I'd leave the back door unlocked and treats for Chienne on the table so they could come look around.

"We're 99% sure the gnats are coming from your potted plants." He told me yesterday when he and the service manager left the house. "We set off some small fogging treatments that wouldn't hurt the dog to knock down the population, but the eggs could still be in the soil. I'd like you to repot those plants and call is in a week if you still see bugs. We can have you all leave the house and do a more intensive treatment then."

So I thanked him, not mentioning that I thought this should have happened weeks ago and without many rounds of phone tag and a letter to cancel service, and went to Target to obtain, among other things, potting soil. As I was putting it in my cart, I killed one of the swarm of gnats flying around it. So I placed it back on the shelf and purchased two bottles of insect killer for potted plants instead. After a liberal application last night, I hope the problem is solved.

I have yet to see a single gnat. None greeted me when I made morning coffee. I didn't slap my hands together at all when working at the laptop last night. Oh, I hope they're gone. I really, really, really hope they're gone.

*****

"I wanted to tell you," VIMD noted as she pulled the first set of data up to analyze, "that I'd make sure your name was on any future papers or abstracts from this work."

I blinked at her in surprise and stuttered some response about how I had learned and appreciated working with her and that I knew she'd tried before to have my name added to an author list. I finished by saying I didn't know how much control she'd have over these situations. She just gave me a look in response.

"I hadn't thought about it much, but I realized this wasn't a summer job for you. We're not paying you anything like we were that guy before you - what was his name again?" I told her and she nodded. "So if you're not getting financial credit, you absolutely need to get scientific credit. That's just ridiculous otherwise. If they don't have room for two names on something, they can take mine off and add yours instead."

I blinked in surprise again. Boss must have spoken to her, I decided, which was not my intention. I also have a way of dealing with VIMD that has developed over time. I'm less accommodating than I can be, which had oddly brought about a greater respect on her part. Since I hadn't been receiving any credit for this work, I guarded my time. I worked around her schedule, of course, but didn't mind vetoing meeting times that would inconvenience me. She sometimes waited a day to get a response to email. All of this benefited our relationship, I think, but is something I never would have done had I known she'd fight an authorship battle for me.

So I stumbled yesterday, shoved out of my normal comfort zone with her by this shift in how I viewed the situation. This is a large clinical trial in a drug development study. A paper, if and when they publish it, would be huge on my CV. A reason to work at an institution such as my current one, populated by leaders in the field such as VIMD. I still don't know that it will work out - the company hedged when she requested it, saying "She'd try her best." But I hope that VIMD throws her weight around enough to get my name on it. The thought that she knows it would be the right thing to do soothes me regardless.

Boss also sent an email noting he was thinking of submitting an R01 in the near future on his pet project. He'd like me to take a lead role in collaborating with him and to first author the publications resulting from the preliminary data. It will be a huge amount of work, but I'm rather excited about it. Yay for being honest with people!

Oh, and as a note to the dear commenters on the last post - each of which I appreciated a lot when I was still shaky with nerves yesterday, I don't think it was particularly brave, much as I'm flattered at the thought. Boss continued to nudge me on the K99 and I knew I'd either have to build an invisibility cloak to move about the hallways, actually write the thing I didn't want to write or tell him something. The truth, once I started the email, just kind of came out. And I knew he'd be OK with it - discomfort was the worst case scenario. He really is a dear man.

*****

The last letter worked for someone else and against me, I fear, but I'll mention it regardless. On Tuesday, I think, I started my car in the insane heat and frowned when I saw a note tucked under a windshield wiper. Written on a neatly torn corner of a brown paper lunchbag, it said, "I NEED THIS CAR. Please call me A.S.A.P." Then it listed a name and phone number written in neat print. Since I do not drive a car people want, let alone need, and said car was dirty inside and out and approaching 100,000 miles, I was more than a bit confused. I decided he was joking and didn't call back.

Yet I was curious, as was Dad when I told him, so I was ordered to call him from work so he didn't have my cell phone number. "Don't tell him where you live." Dad insisted and I rolled my eyes.

I left a message for Trey - that's his name - yesterday morning and happened to be at my desk when he called back. He works at a dealership downtown and there's a newer model of my car in stock that someone wants but can't afford and there's some complicated plan that Trey has worked out to use my car in a scheme to get this guy the car he really wants. I didn't follow it at all.

"I can," he concluded, "give you more than you'd ever get for it otherwise." And so - since I really don't like my car at all - I agreed to meet him this morning to talk. I don't have a car payment now and it's a long walk to work. I don't know that I could do it in a day - it would take several hours at least. And it's very hot outside. Yet I called Dad and we both looked at the selection of cars they had online and he told me what I was looking for in terms of value from my current car.

"I wouldn't be sad to see you get rid of it." He began. "It's getting old and something could go wrong with it soon."

"But," he decided quickly afterward, "it runs fine and you don't have a car payment now. There's nothing wrong with that car."

"I know, Dad." I said, sweating profusely having just carted all the papers and water bottles from the car and vacuuming the front seats after Friend did the back.

He continued to debate with himself while he enjoyed his ability to look at the cars online. He selected the only one that had looked interesting to me and listed the features he noted. I nodded and said I'd call him tomorrow when he got off work. So I soon get to go wash my car before going to show it off to the car dealer. It's an odd position to have been recruited in this way - Friend says it's nearly disturbing - in that I don't really need to get rid of my car, nor am I in love with any of the vehicles they have on the lot.

So we'll see what happens.

2 comments:

JustMe said...

i hope your gnats go away too! and wow, that car story is new.

ppb said...

I have never met anyone whose car was RECRUITED! I'd demand a full scholarship and room and board, too.

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