We met the author of this text at a lab event and were immediately blown away by the humour and acumen with which he presented our product portfolio. Now he has proven his humour once again at the evening event of our laboratory symposium. We don't want to deprive you of that. Sit back and relax. Smiling allowed.
Lust for labs
I heard about it from a friend. I didn’t know that such a thing even existed, that it was even an option, and that someone had taken the trouble to create this option. I know all about dating. That was my hobby and main pastime for many years. I have all the apps. Nothing can surprise me. Or so I thought. But the event my acquaintance told me about was a completely new concept, and it piqued my curiosity. So I tried it out. I went on speed dates with companies. At this point you’re probably asking yourself what that even means, so let me explain. Company speed dating is almost the same as regular romantic speed dating. But there are a few differences.
It took place in Berlin’s hip Mitte district in a stately room with the walls covered in LEDs flashing stock market tickers and news, like in Times Square. You sit with a company at a table for five minutes, ask questions and get to know one another. My experience so far has been... interesting, to say the least.
First I sat down with Tesla but didn’t stay long – they ignored me and started flirting with Twitter!
Next up was DHL, but they pretended I wasn’t there at all and left a card for me at the neighbour’s table.
I also didn’t get to spend much time with Deutsche Bahn since they showed up late. And their staff changed halfway through, so we had to go over everything all over again.
Wirecard told all kinds of wild stories about Asia and suddenly disappeared.
Google greeted me by asking for proof that I wasn’t a robot and making me point to all the bikes in the room.
I caught Facebook in the middle of an identity crisis. They aggressively denied being called Facebook at all and kept fantasising about a virtual world where we’ll all soon hang out together and, above all, shop without ever leaving the house. We’ll see.
This was followed by a few more disappointments:
McDonald’s reeked of old grease, but his face was painted green.
Primark changed outfits every few minutes because the clothes kept falling apart.
Karstadt seemed stuck in the past and just told me stories about its glory days decades ago.
Somehow it didn’t really click between me and any of them. I was about to throw in the towel. I had already put on my coat when I noticed a hand-painted wooden sign pointing to an inconspicuous adjacent room. It read HIDDEN CHAMPIONS. I walked over, pushed aside a thick red curtain and found myself standing in a relatively modest room with a light wood interior like a mountain chalet. There were dapper-looking older gentlemen at small tables who all greeted me with a Swabian accent, finished their plates of käsespätzle and invited me to their tables.
There was one older person with a quirky appearance. Their wild standing hair and fully transparent PVC safety goggles got me curious. My educated guess at their age would be around 114. I took a seat, and the next speed date began.
“Hello, my name is Ritter. Christian Ritter. Who are you?”
“Waldner, pleased to meet you. Do you need something?”
“What exactly should I need?”
“Are you missing anything in your laboratory?”
“I have it all here! Lab lovers need look no further. No one can fool me when it comes to lab furnishment. Laboratory benches, laboratory cabinets, laboratory sinks, laboratory salad bowls, laboratory lingerie, a laboratory chaise longue to rest on after the act, or the popular “straight back” laboratory seating arrangement? And you know what they say: what happens under the service ceiling stays under the service ceiling. Hmm. You get my drift?”
“Um, yes, thank you. There’s just one small problem, I don’t even have a lab.”
“So a whole basic setup. Perfect. I'll put something together for you. And if at some point you want to turn the laboratory into an office or a children’s room: I’m quite flexible. Between you and me: I’m as experienced as they come. I can install a clean room in any nook or cranny. Let me draw up a cost estimate for you real quick. Wait just a minute. Would you like a glass of milk, fresh from an Allgäu dairy?”
“I’ve got something else you might like. I still have a few thousand milk cans laying around from the old days, you know. Do you want one? They’re just the best design objects, no light-flooded pre-war apartment is complete without one. It’ll also look great in your new lab.”
“I really don’t mean to offend, but: Is it possible that your talents are a bit narrow? The only thing you talk about is ... laboratories.”
“I only have one response to that: Laboratories, mi amore! Lust for labs!”
“Well that was technically two responses. Say, we’re supposed to be getting to know each other a little better. What do you do in your free time away from the lab?”
“I go for a walk with my Labrador.”
“But not in the lab?”
“No, outside the lab. You know, it’s always been my passion. Nothing ever made my heart race like a sterile space. So should I be getting my hopes up about the two of us and your new lab or ...”
“I don’t know. If I’m being honest: Your interests just don’t seem very, how should I say, colourful.”
“Colourful, colourful. In our laboratory every day is a white party! Sometimes even an anthracite or a walnut party, if we’re getting rowdy. Then even the balance table starts shaking.”
“Now that sounds ... hard to imagine.”
“I think you’re underestimating us. Do you know the party hit Meet Me in the Lab?”
“That’s because it doesn’t exist. You know, when we laboratory people really want to let loose, we escape to a mountain hotel in the Allgäu, an hour away from the nearest train station. So remote that you have to ask yourself several times on the drive whether the taxi driver might have misunderstood you or is abducting you to Liechtenstein. And when we finally arrive at our secluded mountain hotel, we spend two days talking about agility.”
“That sounds very exciting.”
“Agility in the laboratory.”
“And everything relating to it. Like laboratory planning.”
“We talk about all kinds of aspects of agility there. It’s an agile analysis of agility. We even sometimes have agile arguments and altercations! Our agile agenda includes topics like “Agile assignments’, ‘Architecture and agility’, ‘Agility and apple strudel’, all leading up to the ultimate topic: ‘What is agility actually?’ Later, the Wangen fire brigade commander comes by at midnight and gives a keynote speech entitled ‘All I Want for Christmas is Agility’. And then we build a fire engine out of Lego. An agile fire engine!”
“This agility you’re talking about, is it in the room with us right now?”
“You need to work on your agile mindset, Mr Ritter. Try to see it as an experiment. And what’s the best place to do experiments?”
“In the laboratory?”
“Precisely! Oh, I just love talking about labs. But do you know what the most important thing in the laboratory is?”
“Perfectly timed extraction. Which is what I’m doing now. Goodbye!”