a of days ago i celebrated my one year anniversary at the Crime Lab. yup, i have been gainfully employed for a full year. almost doesn't seem possible. and working for The Man at that. it's been a fun year. i have hired more people than i have fired. i have watched our budget balloon to new heights. we opened one new lab, and in October we will open another even larger one, and move our main offices. i have learned a tremendous amount about state government, crime control, and forensic science. and i have actually had a lot of fun along the way.
some of the fun has been funnier than others.
the crime lab isn't open to the public. we don't give tours, or allow the press inside. although we fly the state flag, the building is fairly innocuous. it's a converted school house and the sign on the front of the building is small. most people can't even find the doorbell.
and yet don't underestimate the public. they're tricky. they can sometimes find their way in.
of course, they make it no further than reception. and generally that means that i get brought up to the front desk and shoo them away. but sometimes i listen to what they want first. and what do they want?
i want a scientist to tell me, or at least an office manager:
a man walks into the crime lab with a zip-lock baggie. in the baggie is a clod of dirt with a chunk of something in it. the man found the clod/chunk in his backyard when he was digging up a tree stump. he thought it was suspicious looking. he thought it needed a trained professional to tell him what it was. he thought it could be a piece of wood. or a bone. but he wasn't sure. he was concerned and wanted a scientist to analyze it. i told him that we didn't do that, and that he should contact his local pd if he was worried. i told him he needed to leave and tried to hustle him along. he didn't want to leave until somebody in authority told him their professional assesment. it wasn't going to happen. finally he beseached me, and begged me to tell him what i thought. i replied "i think i write purchase orders for a living!" he nodded, sagely, took his clod and left smiling.
i want you to tell me if this smells funny:
a lady walks into the crime lab, clutching an disposable coffee cup, filled with what looked like... well... coffee. she sets it on the counter, and tells us that somebody is trying to kill her. every time she walks out of the room, they put a little more poison in her coffee cup. or maybe they pee in it. she's not sure. she wants us to run toxicology tests to prove that someone is out to get her, and she wants to know what the poison is. if it's urine, she wants us to run DNA tests so we call tell her who is out to get her. we explain that we don't do this, and that she needs to contact her local pd (noticing a trend here...?). she asks me what she should do. and i tell her, with a perfectly straight face, that i think she should stop drinking coffee.
i want to spy on other peoples kids, just not piss off my own:
a lady walks into the crime lab, clutching a magazine. slathered across the cover, in big type, is lurid details from the latest high profile pervert who was using myspace. she launches into a long, garbled, but very passionate ramble about how horrible dangerous the internet is. she has two young daughters, who use myspace, and she worries about them. she wants to teach kids about internet safety. she wants to help. she looks at me and wails "I WANT TO HELP THE FBI CATCH INTERNET PREDATORS ON MYSPACE!" i explain that we don't do that, and that she needs to contact the freakin' FBI. i also told her that she probably didn't need her help, but that maybe she should sit down with her own daughters and see what they are looking at and using, and explain to them about how to be safe. she looks at me, very affronted, and says "oh. they wouldn't like that. i like to give them their privacy".
these things never happen on C.S.I.