I began work this week in the medicinal plants lab I'm a part of. To get back into the swing of things after a year away, I started simple with an MIC-- a test that determines how much of a chemical it takes to kill 50% of a population of organisms (in this case bacteria). It's a delicate but repetitive process and accuracy is key.
The experiment I was setting up today took about an hour and a half of measuring, calculating, and mixing liquids in a 96-well plate. I worked row by row, going slowly because measurements need to be accurate to a hundredth of a microliter but also because I'm not very fast with micropipettes in general. At last, everything was set up; I measured the optical density of the wells, prepped the plate to be incubated, and then accidentally dropped it on the floor.
I wasn't sure whether I should be upset at the waste of work or if I should just be worried that a broth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria had gotten on my shoes. I certainly had time to think about it as I set up a new plate. In the end, I was happy with the comedic timing of it all and content that my shoes were sterile after treatments of ethanol, bleach, and hot water. Hard work and fixable complications make a good start to the year.