In my career in the fabulous world of industrial chemistry, I have had to drop my pants exactly twice in the cause of business.  The first and best time was in Japan. We had just been to the science city of Tsukuba near Tokyo. After driving all day in Tokyo traffic and shuffling around at business meetings in comically small sandals, we finally ended up at what I thought was a restaurant. Glad to get out of the car, I followed my running host through the rain and into a stone building out in the countryside. But instead of walking into a dining area, we walked straight in to a locker room!

I was about to protest that I didn’t have a swim suit when it dawned on me that birthday suits were the standard dress wherever we were going. Hmmm. Lordy, I wonder if this is co-ed? Gaijin anatomy would be the featured attraction this evening.

We padded out, barefoot and naked, into a covered outdoor area and straight into the heated pool.  It was delightful. We soaked for 45 minutes and talked about business and life in Japan. All too soon, we got out, showered, dressed, and entered the dining area.

We took our positions on the cushions on the floor by the table and were treated to an incredible meal of exotic food and drink. It was highly civilized, relaxing, and memorable experience.

The next experience is the one time I had to go home without my pants. Some years ago I was making about a kg of some material in a 12 L flask. The reaction proceded normally and all was well until I tried to disassemble the apparatus in preparation for a filtration. The flask slipped from the clamp due to the considerable weight of the halide and dropped a few inches onto the benchtop. The flask broke, discharging the contents onto the hood benchtop.  I can’t say what was in the mixture, but I can say that the solvent and residual halogen were absolutely the least of my worries.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was beyond my ability to safely handle without a Hazmo suit and supplied air.  Somehow, in the course of this, I got a smudge of reaction mixture on my pants.  The safety manager looked at me and ordered me to remove the contaminated pants, which I did.

So there I was, standing in my boxer shorts- the ones with the orange and green watermelon print- while the safety manager was standing there shaking his head laughing. He threw a tyvek bunny suit at me and walked out.

We discontinued the reaction after that event. The hazards were just too edgy, even for me. 

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