Thursday, August 19, 2010

Irrational rant about my afternoon adventure


A t-shirt from Threadless that I really don't need.

I had to run an errand yesterday, picking up some blood samples from an animal research facility. It's in a very sketchy corner of town. Like, I wouldn't want to walk around there during the daytime, even if accompanied by a rugby team. I got lost and got scared and came back to work and ranted because I needed to blame someone.

The first time I went there was a couple months ago. The directions I had were a little off. I had to circle around this rundown neighborhood in a shiny rental car to find my way. I was already pretty nervous, then I got downright scared when I saw two pitbulls sauntering across the street. Their heads were solid bone, and their bodies were solid muscle. Yeesh. I finally found where I needed to go, and it all worked out.

This second time, I went to the right gate, and it was closed with a huge sign that said to use some other entrance. So I drove around to this legendary other entrance, which was non-trivial because of the winding, hilly roads. The security lady had two different people try to guide me to the animal facility, over worn-down pavement punctuated with the occasional ill-labeled trailers and dilapidated buildings. I could tell we were heading towards the closed entrance that I had initially tried. Of course, it was a restricted construction site. Although I could see the animal facility, that fence gate was closed, and no one seemed to be able to give me a FREAKIN' STREET NAME to access the place!

I had to call my work because I left my contact person's phone number at my desk. Yeah, I'm smart. My side of the call went something like this:

"Hi, [co-worker]? It's [me]. I'm in [sketchy neighborhood], and I'm horribly lost, and I need [contact person]'s number. It's on a post-it on the left-hand side of my desk. Could you give it to me, please?"

A nice construction worker led me out of the derelict labyrinth and back to the closed entrance. Where I had started. Well, well, well, there was my contact person with the samples I needed. So the road beyond the "DEAD END" sign, with a fence labeled with some random contractor/construction company name, that was the access point.

GAAAAAHHHH!

So I got back to work to process my samples and said, "Ya know whom I blame for my [sketchy neighborhood] adventures? PETA! That's right! People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. If it weren't for them, maybe we wouldn't need to hide our animal research facilities in super-sketchy parts of town with NO SIGNS!"

I probably swore a bit in there, too.

Don't get me wrong. I generally support animal rights. I don't wear fur. I've been eating mostly vegetarian food. If I do eat meat, I try to go for meat from happy animals. I steer my bike around critters that cross my path, like snails, slugs, and the occasional mouse.

But, come on, animal research is kind of essential. It sucks, but what else can you do? We're trying to cure diseases here. There's only so much that cells in a dish can tell you. Eventually, you gotta move into higher organisms until you can do clinical trials in humans.

The animals live in carefully controlled conditions: temperature, light-dark cycles, food and water, clean bedding, etc. Researchers themselves don't exactly get these ideal living conditions, in comparison.

What I don't like is that sometimes there are militant PETA jerks who break into animal research facilities and let the animals free, thereby screwing over scientific progress and putting the animals in danger. And every once in a while, you hear various news stories about militant PETA jerks who harass--and sometimes even kill--animal researchers. Oh, the irony.

Plus, any time these guys take any sort of medicine, they conveniently forget that those drugs probably went through lots of animals before getting to the drugstore.

So yeah, I irrationally blame militant PETA jerks for the necessity to hide the animal research facility in the sketchiest corner of town with no signage.

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