A while back I managed to order a whole tub of a fancy material that I thought I could use for research. (Almost thought I couldn't do it...) Turns out that direction of scientific inquiry didn't bear any fruit, but I still had this tub of goop and that I had obtained at great cost (they don't sell small amounts of this stuff) and effort (customs is a pain when you are ordering material that can be used to shield missiles from radar...).
So I hung onto it - and turns out a neighboring lab had a use for it. So I loaned it out to an undergrad student to run some experiments. And now, a labmate actually needs to use this stuff. So I go to reclaim my tub - and, whoops, it is nowhere to be found!
I searched high and low, asked around from other students ("it isn't there? really? I though it was... no, I didn't move it...") and emailed the undergrad (*crickets* no response, they graduated and hightailed it out of here...). Finally I asked the lab manager, and he said that he remembered seeing it, but couldn't recall where it went after lab cleanup.
That is a bad word to hear when looking for a missing item. The typical cycle of lab cleanliness goes from sparkling clean, to the middle ground of the commonly used items being out and accessible and easily-findable, sliding down to ALL items out and you can no longer put your hands on what you need, ending in lab cleanup putting everything away so you have no idea where anything is again.
If you lose something in that cycle, it's kind of like missing children cases - the more time goes by, the less likely you are to ever see it again.
So the lab manager offered to replace what had been lost, which was very generous of him. But I was torn - do I make this neighboring lab go through those purchasing hoops all over again, for a material I decided I wasn't going to use for my research anyway?
Fortunately my conflict was resolved when a few days later I got word the tub had been found.
Apparently it was hiding in the furnace!
It had not, thankfully, been FIRED in the furnace, or it would be ruined. Somebody just tucked it in there.
Really, folks? That's how you do lab cleanup - shove things in random cubbies? :) Oh well, I'm guilty over here too of sweeping things under the rug that I don't have a place for...
Once word got around that the furnace was the hiding place, I also heard rumors that my tub of goop had been spotted previously in the fridge, too. Goodness! Any more temperature cycles I need to know about?
Glad I got it back, if the trend continued I may have just rescued it from the freezer!