Compliments of a Broken Laptop | #5

What do you do when you see it happen? In that split second that you blink, your laptop is precariously sitting at the edge of the table to being screen down on the floor with shards of black and clear glass shattered around it.

Now imagine yourself in my shoes for a minute.

This project was supposed to take about a week – two weeks max. I was to optimize a fractionation protocol for Drosophila heads. The PI of my lab had designed this protocol when she was a graduate student – it took her six months. So seemingly, I had my work cut out for me, right..? She’s done the hard work and I was to just fill in the rest of the gaps.

It’s been two and a half months nearly. Though the protocol wasn’t hard, I have been through four trials of this protocol with multiple smaller variations and alterations within the protocol. Each time, we have learned something new of the protocol. Each time, we have made mistakes in the right direction. But with each trial I have grown more and more discouraged. Each trial has just been a reminder to how hopeless this experiment seemed.

It was frustrating. It was difficult. And it was mentally taxing. It was 9am on a Wednesday and I had been at lab until 11pm each day that week.

So when my laptop teetered off the side of the table into a ruin of shattered glass, I don’t think my brain exactly comprehended what happened. I picked up my laptop by the screen and gashed my finger open.

I stared at the blood and still couldn’t quite fathom it. I think that’s when every event in the past two months crumbled upon me. My two people who were still in lab rushed to be by my side. “My” graduate student was around as well and came rushing into the room… At that one singular moment in time, I couldn’t quite understand what was happening.

Gushing blood. Shattered screen. Data lost. Mind the clouds.

This internship has been one of the most strenuous summers I’ve had. But it has been ever so rewarding. This incident occurred three days before the “end” of my internship. And in that hour, I realized my importance as a member in the lab. In one of the most debilitating moments this summer, I learned how much everyone in my lab cared for me as well as my contributions to my lab.

They told me that I was an exceptional undergrad – helping them with tasks that they didn’t think were in my ability. I have impressed them with not only my intelligence, but with the work I am able to do with my hands. I have developed as a person. I have learned to think smarter. I have learned to develop personal connections with others.

But most of all, I learned how lucky I am to be in a lab full of amazing people who care so much about my well being. How they dropped everything that they were doing to make sure that I was okay. These were scientists who care d about their science as much as they would for a child. But now I became their child. I was theirs to take care and I am forever grateful for that.This is an experience that I wouldn’t just be able to get from another lab – it was unique. it was special, and it is something that I will always remember. All because of a broken laptop.

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