Erkan cursed as he cut his thumb on the edge of the slide. This one was empty of samples, but now it would have to be washed and sterilized before it could be used again. “Akio!” Erkan held up his thumb as he passed their shared workstation, “I’ll be right back with another slide. Gotta patch this up.”
Akio looked up from his microscope, “Ah.. don’t worry about it. I can get it myself.”
“Thanks.” Erkan avoided licking the blood off of his thumb, even though it was pooling up. Instead, he waited until he got to the bathroom and took off his rubber gloves. First, he washed the blood off, then carefully pressed down until it stopped bleeding, wiping away the excess. He then put a small dollop of first-aid cream onto the cut before pasting a bandage from his desk tightly over the wound. It would be an annoyance for at least a few days still, but there wasn’t much else to do.
The section of the lab he worked in didn’t require extreme precaution- they weren’t working with viruses or anything dangerous- but having an open wound still wasn’t a good idea. Besides, he didn’t want to just stick on another glove and have it fill up with blood- only to have to put on a bandage anyway. Thicker gloves would have prevented the accident in the first place… but would have been rather annoying for normal work.
Lunch was at two, which meant it was very dark out. Not that anyone noticed, since they were all inside in a light-controlled environment. Most of the rooms didn’t have many windows to begin with, and some of them intentionally avoided outside light. Not that it made much difference on night shift.
Akio and Erkan were the only ones eating lunch at the moment. There weren’t that many people on night shift anyway. “So, Erkan… do anything interesting lately?”
Erkan shook his head, “Just work on my thesis… and work. That takes up most of my time. Mother keeps pestering me to come out to ‘family’ birthday parties, like I have time for that. I don’t have time to drive down to Fresno to meet people I don’t know, even if I was awake during the day.”
“Such is night shift life, man.” Akio shook his head, “Except for people who work at twenty-four hour stores, we basically don’t exist. At least I can call my brother before work while he’s at lunch.”
“Doesn’t he run some big company or something?”
Akio shook his head, “I wouldn’t call it big. He does want it to be seen that way though.”
“A fair point.” Erkan looked down at the last bite of his sandwich, “Oh, right… I need more turkey.”
Akio shook his head, “I can’t believe you eat your own people.”
“That’s the country. The people are Turkish. Or, you know, something else entirely if you speak the language. Also I’m only like, half Turkish depending on who you ask.”
“Ehh, aren’t Turkey and Armenia basically the same anyway?”
Erkan shook his head, “I think you’ll find there are many strong opinions on that topic and you’d prefer to stay far away from it.”
“Ah… one of those things. Oh, hey, isn’t it Tuesday?”
Tuesday was Erkan’s turn to go get the coffee at Hot Beans. He didn’t even drink coffee. In fact, he figured it was better to just keep a regular sleep schedule so he didn’t need stimulants to pretend to be awake… but he wouldn’t convince anyone else of that. Still, just because he didn’t need or like coffee didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate some mid-shift hot chocolate.
It was a short enough walk to the shop that he never bothered driving, even though it was a bit awkward to carry a couple trays of drinks with him. However, sending two people was too much, so whoever went just dealt with it.
There were a surprising number of middle of the night coffee drinkers around, enough for there to always be two or three people on shift at Hot Beans. It probably helped that it was near both a college campus and some associated research labs. As Erkan walked up the barista smiled and waved, “Welcome back. The usual order?”
Erkan held out the drink order list, “Well, Cathy took the night off so one less cafe mocha.”
Soon enough Erkan found himself leaving the cafe with his hands full. Even so, he didn’t forget to hold the door open for the woman coming in. “Good evening.”
A moment later, he was out walking along the street. It was kind of eerie at night. It didn’t help that just a few blocks away was a bad neighborhood. San Francisco generally had a fair reputation. At least, it wasn’t run by mob bosses. Except maybe it was now, or maybe he just hadn’t noticed when he was a little kid.
Well, run by mob bosses was stretching the truth a lot. There were just a few neighborhoods that weren’t as stellar as they used to be. Not that Erkan had much to worry about. Nobody was going to mug him for a few cups of coffee, especially not so near the campus.
Having doors on the lab be security locked was actually more convenient when carrying back coffee, because they were also automatic. That meant he just had to brush his jacket up against the scanner to get it to register his card and open the door. Some of the guys kept their cards in their wallets, but Erkan wasn’t going to jump up and press his butt against the scanner, especially not with two carriers full of coffee.
After that it was back to the grind, dripping a few drops of chemical A or chemical B into petri dishes and then putting them on the shelf to wait a day to see if there was any effect. If they were lucky there would be a major breakthrough and chemical C would be 10% more effective than chemical A. It wasn’t like they were going to discover penicillin or anything amazing. At best, someone on day shift would get that chance, but that was also extremely unlikely. Still, night shift paid extra and the work was relevant to his studies, so Erkan didn’t mind much.