Toll door


Unlike my adviser, who will come to the office early on Saturday mornings, I prefer to work in the evenings and occasionally return to the office after dinner. Either way, the building is closed to the public after hours and one needs to be affiliated with the department to enter.

The IPPP has a very curious door key system which requires an ID card to go both ways, i.e. to enter and to leave the building. This can actually be helpful, since one is less likely to leave their ID card in the office.

However, it will also occasionally trap a conference visitor who has stayed in the building after the doors lock. (There are plenty of conferences in Durham.) This inevitably leads to some wandering around and hoping that someone else is in the building with a card key.

This evening I was that someone else. (Though I was surprised that the postdoc across the hall wasn’t around.) Two conference attendees were the last to leave the building after some post-dinner refreshments. As I happily walked to the front door to swipe my card key, they sheepishly thanked me and looked embarassingly at the stash of leftover sweets they were taking back to their rooms. “Er, just taking some leftovers … there’s more upstairs,” they said, with a nod of thanks and a quick exit.

Cool, I thought as I went upstairs to collect my bounty — a toll door. As I finish off a slice of rather rich peach cake, I’m now pondering the career viability of being a `toll door troll,’ allowing safe passage out of the building in exchange for snacks. I guess during a typical night there’s too much competition to make a living out of it. (Damn you, postdoc across the hall! :-))

Well, my friends from undergrad have gone off to be zillionare consultants and investment bankers, but being a grad student still has its perks.Β  πŸ™‚

2 Responses to “Toll door”

  1. my building also requires a swipe card to leave which i found odd … i hope this feature is disabled in the event of a fire … knowing the british obsession with fire safety it probably does!



  2. 2 robert

    The perils of the night shift are manifold. An experimentalist friend of mine had to baby sit an experiment overnight in the Cavendish Laboratory. This was a necessary but undemanding task, and his attention started to wander. For want of something better to do he scrutinized the departmental phone book (this was well over 30 years ago) and noted that among the three digit numbers less than some maximum value, just one was conspicuously absent. Being an inquisitive fellow, he dialed that number. Every phone in the building went off and could not be stopped until the following morning. Who can say how this went down with his fellow night owls? He certainly doesn’t mention this detail when recounting the tale.

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