Friday, March 27, 2009

For Want of a Ring...

Whoever is writing my life these days sure knows how to put obstacles in my path.

I have a big project at work for a customer; I'm supposed to analyze their samples for a couple of common chemicals. (I can say no more.) This process involves purifying each sample so I can analyze it via HPLC (High-Performance Liquid Chromatography). I have over twenty samples, with duplicates of each, and I'm analyzing each sample, including the duplicate, twice. The purification procedure involves a step where I can only centrifuge four tubes at a time, so it took me two days to finish all of the samples. But Tuesday night, as I loaded the HPLC, I anticipated having all of my data by Wednesday morning.

That was my first mistake.

I came in Wednesday and reviewed my data. Most of my samples had usable data, but some of the runs didn't work. I set up the HPLC to run them again overnight. Again, some of the runs worked, but many didn't.

As I was setting up the HPLC to run the samples a third time, I noticed a problem. I asked a co-worker who has more experience with this machine to help me figure out what was wrong. We found that a white O-ring in the pump was out of round, causing the pump to leak. We didn't have a replacement on hand, so I looked in the manual, found the part, called the company, and faxed in an order to have more O-rings shipped here overnight.

A couple of hours later, I realized I never got a confirmation that the fax went through, so I sent it again. I left without getting an order confirmation from the company, so I wondered if I would get the ring today.

As it turned out, I did get the order. But when I opened the package, the rings I had ordered were much too small to be the right part.

I called the company again, and they put me in touch with a local serviceperson. I had to talk to him twice. The first time, he gave me the part number I'd already ordered. We discussed sending him a picture of the part, but I managed to lose it before we could take the picture. (Has nobody looked in the wash basin?) I had my co-worker describe to the serviceperson exactly where the part was located. We wound up getting a new part number, and the serviceperson said he would e-mail me a picture of it to confirm we have the right part. I'm still waiting for the e-mail. I'd like to order the part ASAP so we have it by Monday, but there's no point in getting another wrong part again.

Anyway, I managed to sneak two movie references (they're from the same movie) into my tale of woe. Kudos to the first person who can identify the movie. If you know my favorite music group, you have a leg up on the competition.


ElanaJ said...

Um, no idea about the movies. But this insight into your working life has me fascinated. Kudos!

H. L. Dyer said...

Hmmm... not sure I can really HELP you. ;)

Sandra said...

Elana: Luckily, this is the exception, not the rule.

Heather: Did you have HELP figuring that out? ;)

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