Sometimes people surprise me. Recently, I received a very thoughtful gift from a colleague in the lab where I work. We investigate toxins together and it takes a lot of time at the microscope hunched over in an uncomfortable position on a backless chair. We have to be higher off the ground than people who work at computers. We use stools so we can move them from one machine to another quickly. Thus, we don’t have to get up and it saves time. We are often very busy and time is a factor when answers are waiting about a given poison. Lives can be at stake and if there is foul play involved, the police can’t act until they have more details. Most of the time we deal with accidental ingestion by children. Sometimes unknowing adults make mistakes. This is a typical day at the lab.
Meanwhile, I had been complaining about my back and my colleague overheard me go on about my soreness. I guess he took it to heart and the next day, he brought in a marvelous gadget: a massage chair pad. If you haven’t seen one, it is a wonderful device that fits over most standard-sized chairs to provide a gentle pressure to relieve back pain. Given that I use a stool, I elected to place it in my car so I could relax on the way home. I do have a desk in an office near the main lab, but I have a long drive and it is a good time to have a treatment. It is easy to move and I can take it inside the house and turn on the relaxing massage chair pad while watching TV in my favorite chair. Let me tell you, this is the best gift I ever had, one tailored perfectly to my needs.
I wanted to reciprocate beyond a perfunctory thank you. I thought long and hard. What would my lab mate like? Does he go fishing? Does he enjoy a favorite sport? I really didn’t know him that well, and we’re not even friends on Facebook. There must be a universal gift for men or women that most would appreciate. Then I got lucky. During our lunch break, he was off in a corner reading a book. When he returned to the lab area, I sneaked a peek. He was studying stamp collecting. Aha! Now I knew what to get him. Then I paused. What stamps did he already own? Was he specializing in a certain time period or country? Now I was at sea. I would have to do some investigating. One way was to listen to his phone conversations. By chance, a few days later I heard him talk about wanting some stamps from Bolivia. Apparently, he was honing in on South America. I immediately went on line and found a source. It was easy to select a group of stamps and it arrived in just a few days. You can imagine the surprise on his face. It was the same as mine when I got the massage chair pad.