A Long-Overdue Mischief Update, Part I: Slow, Silent, and Costly.

Apologies. I have been so busy being wicked that I haven’t had time to write about being wicked.  Grab your favorite beverage and settle in for a long one, because Loki has been a very, very naughty boy.

The human female and her Prep Staff have been dealing with a new classroom this semester, one located in the basement of a different building.  They went to the trouble of overhauling it and fitting it out, only to be told that the course will no longer be taught after this semester.  One of the amenities they needed for proper teaching was a big  whiteboard.  This was no small job, since the building’s walls are solid masonry and hanging anything requires an act of of Congress and a special drill bit.  They requested a board be hung weeks before the beginning of the semester and were promised a timely install by  Slow, Silent, and Costly  (SSC), the University’s outsourced maintenance division.  True to form, it finally went up in the second week of the term, and the installers did not take away the old pull-down projector screen. Actually, that turned out fairly well, because it’s this screen, not the whiteboard, that lines up with the projector.

These run-ins with Slow, Silent, and Costly are a regular  thing.  Take the Great Key Incident of 2017.  In each lab classroom, several of the drawers and cabinets lock, so that computers and remotes and whatnot may be kept securely.   Most of these are all keyed with the same key.  Except for the ones that aren’t.   This means everyone has to carry multiple keys, most of which look exactly alike except for the tiny, stamped numbers.   Recently, the human female and her staff put in a work order to have the locks changed in one of the rooms, since a few were missing and it was one of the “weird rooms.”  SSC came out, got the info, and disappeared back into the private alternate dimension that they so frequently  resort to.   After a bit, they did come back to install new locks —and the lock assemblies were the wrong size for the drawers.   So SSC gathered  up all their locks and  keys and vanished  again, for a bit.  And another bit.  And another.   Prep Staff called to track them down, and someone from SCC came out again —to check up on the other folks and to say that SCC had managed to lose the keys Prep Staff had sent them so that the locks could match, and that the person originally on the job had been let go.  This new person tut-tutted, looked at the still lockless drawers, and disappeared.  They came back a few days later with the locks and a handful of keys.  But not the one that the human female and Prep Staff needed.  No, they were key 60.  Now extra keys are useful, so the keys were accepted with a smile and a request for the proper ones as well.   Some days later, someone came back with more keys—all key 60.  It took some more phone calls and emails to get the last of the work order taken care of, about a month all told.  There are a couple more drawers that need new locks.  The human female is afraid to ask…

Two of the rooms on the floor are walk-in cold rooms. I like to hide out in them when the building AC is less than optimal.  I can have a good think amidst all the bottles of methylene blue, saffranin, and Gram’s crystal violet. While  I’m in there, I usually loosen a few dropper-stoppers, so that the bottles will spill all over  when the students pick them up by the tops. Well, just before the semester started, I poked room  312, and the cooling went out.  Prep Staff had to move a lot of things into the other cold room.  They filed a work order and waited.  Maintenance showed up, took a look, fiddled a bit, went up on the roof to check something, and then disappeared.  For the better part of a month.  The human female called the main SSC office, and they contacted the workers the job had been given to and asked the techs to check in,  but… silence.  More emails, more phone calls.   Checking the status log showed all sorts of activity–one tech teaching another, ordering parts  (they seem not to keep any on hand), and whatnot. Still, 90 degrees in the cold room.  The human female checked in with the SSC office and again, no contact from the actual workers.  Then, one day, the room was working again.  The human female had to check the online progress tracker to find out that there was a new motor— and a bill for over $1,000.00.  Slow.  Silent. Costly.

The best part of that  little prank was that the packets of yeast being stored in the cold/warm/cold room were not moved and did not take kindly to being so warm.  When it was time for the little saccharomyceous beasties to perform their duties in the Metabolism lab, they all politely declined.  Cue mass purchases.  Hope no one in town wanted to bake bread that week.

You remember the eyewash.   It was finally installed, but SSC did it by completely relocating the faucet.  It works now, after a fashion.  The eyewash knob won’t stay pulled out, so it will only run unattended for about twenty seconds.  It must be wedged open with a rubber stopper. Oh, and the hot and cold taps are reversed.   Perhaps one of those S’s stands for “substandard.”

More recently, I fiddled with the fridge in one of the teaching labs.   It wasn’t keeping things cold enough.  The human female asked the Department’s Instrument Shop to come take a look, since the tech there is very good and does do appliances.  He was too busy, though, with a new film processor.  He referred the human female to SSC.  A work order was filed, and two techs (they travel in pairs; it’s safer  more expensive that way) came right out and looked at it.  Then they came back the next day and tweaked something.  Prep Staff moved it into a different, non-teaching room so that they could come and fix it any time. The techs came back the next day to  to check on it and discovered that it had iced up.  (DuhFrost Giant.)  Then they disappeared for about three weeks.  Again, the human female called the main SSC office to find out what was going on.  Again, the office contacted the techs assigned to the job and asked them to get hold of the human female for a debrief.  Again, nothing.  Are you seeing a pattern here?   Then one day two techs showed up and told the human female that since the fridge was rated to hold flammables (all the working guts are sealed) they couldn’t do a thing with it, couldn’t open the seal, etc., etc.   $199.00 and counting and no fix.   They told her the Departmental Tech would have to do it.  The Departmental Tech, by this time, had fixed the film processor (mostly) and eventually did come to look at it.  It took him about 5 minute to deduce a bad thermostat, something SSC should have been able to fix.  (Bad thermostat!  No biscuit for you!)  Hooray, a diagnosis!   Boo, hiss, the fridge is too old for any retailer or the manufacturer to have the part in stock.  He  said he’d try to locate a compatible one,  elsewhere.   So, no fix in sight.   But at least the Departmental tech communicates.

It has now been a month, and the classes in room 305 are still having to share the fridge in a different room.

Slow.  Silent.  Costly.  

The human female’s left eyelid has been twitching for two weeks.

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