The tool is reassuringly heavy in my right hand, my thumb outstretched in control of the round button on top. I place the end of the white barrel into a blue tip in a rack of blue tips on the bench, pushing down firmly twice to make sure I have it. I gently push the button down to the first ‘stop’ where I feel resistance and hold this while I move the tip into the liquid in the small tube in my left hand. I carefully release the button and the liquid breathes into the tip, no bubbles if I’m careful enough. I remove the tip and, exchanging the tube for a fresh one, I place the tip into the clean tube, expelling the liquid by pushing down fairly quickly on the button, past the first stop this time all the way to where I can’t push any further.
I wrote this and realised how much I love the quiet, contemplative activity of preparing reagents and setting up experiments, but how tired I’ve become of the ‘old boys club’ mentality of academia.