By Christine Fossaceca, Class of ’16
When filling out the CATS forms for the General Chemistry Lab, when asked if there is something they would like to change, a frequently given answer is, “My lab partner”. I am in complete agreement with the majority on this issue. When you think about it, the way freshman lab partners can be assigned is a little unfair. Why should my fate be determined merely by the alphabetical order of my last name? Why can’t we rotate lab partners, or even work alone? I would like to share the story of my utterly dreadful experience with a person I call, “The Terrible Lab Partner”.
The Terrible Lab Partner: What are we supposed to do?
Me: (It’s 8:30, I’m not a morning person, after having stayed up late previewing the lab the night before) Did you preview the lab?
The Terrible Lab Partner: No, I didn’t have time.
Me: …..(I’m disgusted and appalled)
I try to split up the lab work, and tell The Terrible Lab Partner exactly what needs to be done. Just when I think everything is fine, The Terrible Lab partner turns the hot plate all the way up, then walks away, with our mixture on it. The next think I know, the mixture is no longer in the beaker, but has instead exploded all over me. It’s. In. My. Hair.
We made aspirin. To be more accurate, I made aspirin, and The Terrible Lab Partner watched. The Terrible Lab Partner asks me if our compound is edible. Still bitter from week two, you don’t know how badly I wanted to say yes.
Five minutes before lab starts, The Terrible Lab partner comes up to me and says, “I couldn’t finish the Post-Lab because you didn’t give me the data from the experiment”. I didn’t realize it was my responsibility to not only complete all the labs by myself, but also to make sure my partner writes down all of my data. I am no longer just a lab student, I am also a babysitter. Not to mention that The Terrible Lab Partner had ALL WEEK to ask me for the data in lecture.
After these weeks of utter frustration, I confided in my lecture teacher about my troubles, asking for advice about how to get through the rest of the semester. “Oh, the joys of freshman chemistry,” recounts Dr. Duffy, a current chemistry professor at Villanova who normally teaches at least one section of freshman lab or lecture. “My partner and I had a love-hate relationship”.
I informed him that my partner and I had a hate-hate relationship. Not that I knew what my partner’s feeling were towards me, but I was one-hundred percent sure that every atom of my being was filled with complete loathing towards this person that I was, unfortunately, doomed to work with for the next eight weeks.
Dr. Duffy says, “Christine, my partner and I didn’t get along that whole semester. She couldn’t stand me by the end of it.”
“Well, what happened?” I ask, eager to get at least a speck of assurance that I will get through the semester with The Terrible Lab Partner.
Dr. Duffy then gets a nostalgic look in his eyes and responds, “She’s my wife.”
My jaw drops, and I begin to consider again my lab partner, and my fate. Why, why didn’t I just let him eat the aspirin?