8. Fart safe zone
When I drink alcohol and go to work the day after, I stink of alcohol. I feel sorry for the people working around me. However, that is not the case in anatomy labs. My stink of alcohol is fully covered by the stink of anatomy labs. I would not have to feel sorry for my students nor do I feel guilty. Slight intoxication allows me to teach with more enthusiasm. In other words, I'm teaching under influence. I often think to myself, ¡°Thank god they don't bust down on teaching under influence, or else my teaching license would be cancelled.¡±
Like so, what is the smell of anatomy labs that forgives my sins? It is the smell of cadavers plus the smell of fixative. No words can explain the smell of these. It is like no other smell. I will just call it the ¡°lab smell¡±. Even with the finest ventilation system, the smell subsists in and out of the lab. It is a special smell for the special lab in a med school.
The students and instructors who dissect cadavers cope with the smell very well. Of course, they are not adjusted from the start, but they get used to it soon. The problem goes for the faculties in school who¡¯s never done dissections before. They feel tortured by the smell as they walk by. Why do they feel that way? It is due to lack of information. When you walk alone on the streets that you are not used to at night, the streets look spooky and you become scared because you lack information. Like so, if someone who¡¯s never seen a cadaver walks by an anatomy lab and have a sniff of the ¡°lab smell¡±, the person would be horrified with all kinds of imaginations.
I won't be able to avoid the lab smell until I retire, so I decided to consider it a good thing and use it to my advantage. I don't have to brush my teeth when I'm going to the lab. Thankfully, my breath will go unnoticed because of the lab smell. No one notices even if I fart in the lab. There is no need to hold it in. Quick-witted students make a good use of the lab smell, like me.
When I was working as an assistant, a solicitor came in during dissection. Students and I gazed vacantly at the solicitor. We were curious of what he would do next. He frowned because of the lab smell and was not in condition to look around the lab. Then, he gave us the look asking if he can leave the lab and left quickly. Solicitor, creditor, and thief will leave the lab voluntarily, making the lab a comfortable place for instructors and students.
The white gown we wear in anatomy labs come in contact with the cadaver often and it is hard to get rid of the lab smell. When the labs are over, students either burn their gowns or give them to their juniors after a quick wash.
Some students scribble all over their gowns knowing that the gowns will be of no use anywhere else. Some scribble down anatomical terms, some draw anatomical structures like muscles of the upper arm. Of course there are students who draw S for Superman or write their phone number with a saying ¡°looking for love¡±.
Even after washing hands and changing clothes after the lab session, the lab smell persists. When I get on a bus or subway, people avoid me. Many people look at me unpleasantly. For example, some may think ¡°That guy smells. What is that smell? It's a smell I never experienced before and it certainly is not pleasant. He might work in sewage. Let's keep a distance from him.¡± As a result, I get to use public transportation comfortably.
The lab smell persists even after I take a shower and change my undergarments. Sure enough my family knows what the smell is, but they don't keep a distance from me. Besides, my family knows that I go to labs as a job, not as a hobby. For me, lab smell is an unavoidable side effect of making money. Comical happenings due to the lab smell can be considered a culture.