The power of nonverbal communication

We have a guy in the lab whom I’ll call “Rob.”  He’s a gentle giant – a great big bear of a guy who always carries himself slightly apologetically, as though apologizing for taking up a lot of room, or startling people without meaning to.  He was in the lab yesterday as I was preparing an experiment, not directly involved but just around doing his own work. 

I got to the point where I needed to add a chemical out of a jar to the mixture I was making, and there was just absolutely no way that jar was parting with its lid.  I yanked, I tugged, I (carefully) whacked it against the hood.  No budging in the vicinity of the lid.  So I looked around for possible assistance, and my eyes lit on Rob.  The exchange went something like this:

Me: *approaches sheepishly with jar.*
Rob: *still looking intently at his experiment.*  *sticks out hand for jar.*
Me: *gratefully surrenders jar.*
Rob: *opens jar without apparent effort.*  (how to do they DO that?  I had a shredded pair of gloves after my attempts.)
Me: *happily accepts open jar with enthusiastic nodding of head in thanks.*
Rob: *Grin.*  *Shoos little chemist off to finish her experiment.*
Me: *Scurries back to lab hood and continues work.*

It was the sort of exchange you might expect from people who have worked together for a long time, and I found it very encouraging.  I seem to be fitting in well here, which is good news.  Also, I’m encouraged that Rob seemed completely okay with (and was almost expecting) to be called upon to open a stuck lid.  In a lab staffed by and large with unnaturally tall people and suffering from a deplorable lack of stepstools, I have a feeling I am going to need help with jar lids and high shelves on a fairly frequent basis.


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