Thursday, August 7, 2008

Moving Boxes

As indicated by my last post, I have recently been placing many orders. This means I have recently been receiving many boxes. They all arrive in an office very close to mine. When they arrive, I get an email saying something along the lines of:

"A package has arrived in X. Please come and pick it up. It is heavy; you might need help."

As I noted previously, the office they arrive in is very close to mine - as in, the room is in the same building - which has an elevator. This is in stark contrast to every other job I have ever had where I had to go to different buildings (sometimes the shipping dock) to get packages. Also, not all of these buildings had elevators. In these positions, I never was told if the item was heavy or not. I would walk over, see the box, try to pick it up as a test - if successful, carry it back; if not, get a dolly and take it back. Only on rare occasion did I get help - for huge items which came in crates the size of my bed.

While some of the items I have recently ordered are heavy - the vendors might as well be shipping chunks of steel; most are not. Many are essentially boxes filled with foam and paper with a tiny, very delicate item the size of a marker. Very, very few people would call these boxes heavy (I'm not sure who these people are, but never say never).

I wouldn't describe myself as a weightlifter by any stretch of the imagination, but the idea of interrupting both my day and the research progress of multiple grad students to carry a moderate sized box is bizarre. It makes me wonder how often the assistant interrupts grad students to do other meaningless tasks which might require minor strength (which she obvious possesses none of) - such as moving a desk or a pile of books. It also makes me very happy that my students will not have offices for the next few years - therefore, they will be "out of reach" since they will be hidden behind the lab doors.

However, I wonder if she sends similar emails to the male profs or if she assumes that they are stronger. Maybe I'm only sensitive to this because in grad school I was never asked if I needed help lifting something or moving something. I was always treated equally by my classmates and labmates; sometimes, I kind of wondered if they noticed I was a women or if that had escaped their notice. So, it is frustrating to have an administrative assistant who is around my age (maybe 5 yrs older) not do so.

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