Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lesson 1: Do Your Homework

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I worked in a Chemistry lab at the University of Toronto before I found my true calling. Ever since high school, I enjoyed Chemistry more than other subjects, and I knew I’d be pursuing it further once I hit University. University hit, and I kept with it, but my enjoyment was diminishing more and more with each passing year. I knew my parents thought the prospect of a Dr. Maxwell Turner would be a dream come true, but I was finding it harder and harder to imagine myself going all the way.

It’s not that the people I worked with were tough to get along with either. Dr. Jones and I got along famously; we were always joking around and he was there for me whenever I needed help. I also liked all the other Masters students working in the lab with me. Well, I liked all of them except Roeper, but no one really got along with him. Roeper was this guy who was always completely by the book when it came to his experiments; he was very slow on the draw and had a very limited sense of humour. Roeper was actually his last name, I think, his first being Mike or Paul or John or something. I think he sort of had a problem with me because Dr. Jones and I were fairly tight, while Roeper wanted to be the golden boy. No, we never saw eye to eye but, otherwise, my lab experience wasn’t an overly negative one. It just started to get very tedious.

One day, I was wallowing in my own mediocrity and considering what I should do with my life, surfing the internet, when I came to a realization: Crystal Meth was really easy to make. I remembered hearing that methamphetamine is the number one selling street drug right now, since it’s so cheap and easy to make, so I searched out a recipe on Google and several popped up immediately. If I were to make and sell Meth, this might be able to add some excitement to my life and get me copious amounts of money in the process. However, I knew the dangers of making it, so I figured I should practice carefully several times before attempting to mass-produce. I figured I could stay late in the lab every now and then trying it out, since they should have basically everything I need to make the stuff and the rest of the ingredients were really easy to pick up. I just had to make sure no one else was around when I practiced.

It was the third time I stayed late, I think, when it happened. I was concentrating hard on drawing a layer of ether off a layer of water, so I didn’t even notice Dr. Jones walk in. He startled me when he spoke, as he was standing right beside me, “Hey there, Max. What’s going on?”

“Oh, hi, Dr. Steve,” Dr. Steve was what everyone called Dr. Jones. “I didn’t see you come in. I’m just purifying something right now; I don’t think I’ll be much longer.”

He looked at my apparatus then asked nonchalantly, “What are you making, methamphetamine?”

I froze, not saying anything. He added, “Yeah, that looks like Meth to me. I hope you’re not planning on getting high; you’re liable to kill some brain cells.”

“No,” I figured there was no point in lying to him, “I was planning on selling it.”

He laughed, “Ah, feeding the junkies. You know, you’re not going to make very much money selling that little.”

“I know,” I was feeling a bit more comfortable talking about this with him now. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t blow myself up before trying to make a large batch.”

His tone suddenly turned very grave. He told me, “If you're actually considering doing this, make sure you’re completely serious about it. Once you’re in, you’re in; there’s no turning back.”

I nodded, and he continued, “And you know I can’t have you making Meth in my lab. If I had tenure, then maybe I could play dumb and keep my job, but you know I’m getting terminated if you get caught. So, you’re just going to have to take your Meth lab elsewhere, Max.”

He stopped talking for a bit to make sure everything he was saying was sinking in. He looked away, and back at my eyes, then went on, “I don’t expect you’re really going to get talked out of this one right now, but just make sure you’re careful,” he paused. “I’ll tell you what; you can take what you need from here, glassware-wise.”

I looked at him, “Really?”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’ll say some first-years broke them and order some more.”

I stopped to think about it, “You don’t really seem too concerned about me making and selling Meth.”

He didn’t even have to consider what I said, “I don’t know. If you’re smart about it, I’m sure you’ll make your money. Plus, if you’re going to be convinced that it’s bad, I’m sure you’re more likely to understand if you run into problems first-hand, rather than some old guy telling you that you’re stupid. Life lessons are the way to go.”

We sat in silence for another moment, at which point he added, “Of course, remember that I said you’ll make your money if you’re smart about it. Don’t get caught again.”

I looked him straight in the eye, and said, “I won’t.”

He smiled, “You’ve got a head on your shoulders, Max. Play your cards right, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

He started to leave, but he stopped, and added, “Oh, and remember, we never had this conversation.”

I gave him the thumbs up, he walked out, and I cleaned up. I left that day with my new glassware. On the way out, I walked past Roeper. To this day, I remember the look he gave me; he glared at me as though he hated every part of me.


Shauna said...

I think I remember you talking about something like this before. But very well done - I totally want to know what happens next, and what Roeper overheard.

Gustavo B. Rockwell said...

Yeah, I've been talking about writing something like this for a while. This month's quote just inspired me to actually try to get it down.