Well, nobody wanted to call Engineering, since they had correctly surmised that a) Engineering would be unimpressed and b) there was a high likelihood that we would get in (well-deserved) trouble with Lab Ops.
So someone decided to put bleach down the sink. It didn't clear the sink, but it did make everything smell worse.
Also, I got a plaintive email from one of my postdocs saying that while I was doing all these maternal emails could I please remind people to close the freezer doors after themselves. And to, you know, maybe go into the lab and check what was going on when the freezer alarms went off, rather than completely ignoring them and letting samples defrost.
Anyway. I decided that we really did have to involve Engineering, and sent them the following email:
Some idiot decided to wash their lunchbox in one of the lab sinks, which is now blocked. I gather someone else then tried to use bleach to clear it, so now it is both blocked and smelly.
We have people doing lab tours through here for Open House Melbourne on Sunday, so while this is not quite an emergency, it would be great if someone could come and fix this ASAP!
PS – I’m sorry my people are idiots.
This was received with favour by Engineering, who are used to scientists behaving like idiots, but not used to people owning up about it. They promised to send someone.
By morning tea, the locals were getting restless. One of my PhD students offered to unblock the sink himself, if Engineering could be persuaded to lend him a plunger. I passed this handsome offer on to Engineering, with a note that I wasn't sure whether this was an offer of help, or an attempt to strike so much fear into their hearts that they would make us a high priority.
Engineering was amused, but did not send anyone. I went to lunch. This was a mistake, because when I came back I had a very sheepish RA waiting in my office. Apparently, she had not been able to take the sight of the sink any longer, and had taken matters into her own hands. She'd done quite well to start with - the sink is apparently much like her one at home, and she had successfully detached the pipe thingie, cleared it, and re-attached it. Only then she realised that she still had pieces left.
And she couldn't make them go back in.
Of course she couldn't.
Engineering came up to take a look, but they couldn't fix it. Not today, anyway. (A number of them are away, because they've had a pretty rough week for reasons that have nothing to do with my laboratory.
So the good news is, we no longer have a blocked sink.
We have a leaky sink.
And I’m contemplating putting up a sign telling everyone to stay out of the lab because clearly they can’t be trusted in there.
Also, I'm no longer feeling like a kindergarten teacher. I'm pretty sure 'monkey keeper in the zoo' is a more accurate job description.