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Monday: Ruminations

At the fitness center last week, the zumba instructor asked everyone to grab a set of light handweights.  What weight?, we asked.  Nothing more than 5’s.  We quickly ran out of 3’s.  “Where were the other weights?”, she asked.  “The company’s other fitness centers have all of the other weights.  Heck, they even had adjustable thingies and whatnots.  How come this one doesn’t?”

We grinned bitterly.  Why indeed?  Maybe we shouldn’t complain.  We are lucky to have a fitness center at all with weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals and towel service.  But while the fitness center for the scientists is serviceable, small and exercise classes pretty basic, with the exception of the zumba class, the two business fitness centers were spacious, better equipped, had better classes and a more zen-like feel to them.

Come to think of it, the food in their cafeterias was better too.  They had a better selection of food and registered dieticians who will consult with you on your choices.  I’d been there and seen it with my own eyes.  The food was the same price but the quality was unmistakeably better in every way.  Where our entrees are suitable for lumberjacks (basic, carb loaded but, wow!, the portions are huge!), theirs are more suitable for svelte figures and discerning palates.  They have demonstration chefs who custom prepare composed salads and stir frys.  We have surly cooks who slap roasted potatoes on your plate whether you want them or not.  As it turned out, I didn’t want.

We’ve heard all of the excuses about why the facility services are so different, ie worse, compared to the other sites.  None of the reasons make any sense.  The stupidest one was that the business folks had be compensated because most of them had to work in cube farms instead of private offices.  Oh, whoa is they!  What kind of plush digs do they imagine the scientists work in, crouched under fume hoods or perched on a stool, pipet in hand, facing row after row of tiny wells?

Hmmm, maybe they’ve got something here.  After all, *we* work with our hands.  Gentlemen and ladies do *not* work with their hands, they work with their minds.  Nevermind that some of the PhDs in those fume hoods have dedicated a decade or more to their educations and know more in their pinkies than some MBA up the road.  Nevermind that we know how to operate a spreadsheet, have to learn to navigate the SAP and purchasing procedures and are subject to the same idiotic Sarbanes-Oxley Act training as our more genteel counterparts.  What it all boils down to is that there is a potential that our hands will get dirty.  After all, don’t we wear labcoats and gloves and run around in denim all day?  {{Sniff!}}  Denim or Dockers.  Farm hands and construction workers wear denim.  Oh, sure, it’s one of the safest things you can wear in a lab, natural fibers and all standing up better to acids and other corrosive substances better than polyester type materials that have a propensity to melt and stick to the skin.

But MBAs apparently don’t think about these things much.  We dress down therefore, we must be the manual labor.  I can almost hear the negotiations with the caterer over the contract. “The business centers will require 3 hot entrees, 2 demonstration stations, the complete salad bar station, deli station, full bistro with specialty pizza, four daily soups, garde manger and healthy options section with nutritionist on staff during the hours of 11-2.  The science group?  Meat and potatoes.  Some soup, lots of chili.  Throw in some salad for those damn fitness center regulars.  That ought to do it.”

So, why am I going on like this?  I guess it was this post at Anglachel’s that reminded me of the difference between the have and have nots.  It’s sort of like 18th century England.  The peers do not engage in work.  They live off their money.  The rest of us just live off the land or our hands, no matter what our professions happen to be.  If you have to touch what earns you a living, you can bet your butt some snooty elite is looking down his nose at you and figuring that you can just do without.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.   What I’m griping about would make most people green with envy.  I have it good.   Especially compared to the hispanic drudges who clean my desk area at night.