“Just crush it like all the others?” I asked the petrologist. “Yes. Now don’t get sentimental because it’s shiny, they’re just rocks.”
I am a collector of data. I no longer ski down mountains of paperwork laced with eau de fish guts, but the premise is the same and so are the ocean views.
I get a thrill from being on the front lines of science. The “real” scientists are not better or smarter but have chosen a different path and have the qualifications to make a mark in the Big Book of Science while I am happy to do their bidding. Extracting otoliths with a razor blade in one hand and forceps in the other on a rocking boat requires some of the same finesse and patience as separating minute flecks of one mineral out of a larger sample. My job is not to analyze any of the data yet my hands, my little human hands, are the ones touching and handling those precious fish and rocks respectively. I’ll never have my name put on a research paper about tectonic plate subduction or a new fishing regulation that gets passed but I have pride in knowing that my little bits of data are floating around in there somewhere. So thank you, scientists, for doing what you do in your offices and labs, because I prefer to be over here getting my hands dirty and watching the sun rise in the East.