Another Chronometer Bites the Dust


Another Chronometer Bites the Dust


  • 1968 - 1982

It was late on a Friday in my first summer here when my coworker and I found ourselves with some spare time on our hands. We stuffed a labcoat and made a fairly lifelike torso. To this we added a pair of stuffed workpants and hung both from a coat rack in the lab, adding a stuffed sample bag for a head, a hard hat and gloves for hands. As if this wasn’t enough we wired the arms to move when the door to the lab was opened. There was also something about a desk drawer opening and a baseball bouncing across the floor, but that part remains hazy with time.

It had been a long day and I left for the weekend, my coworker for a week’s vacation. On Monday I returned to find the lab and collections room cordoned off by security. Our department head immediately called me into his office to explain that he had been greeted that morning by a stern-faced Assistant Director who had just informed him of an incident. Apparently, while making his rounds, the night watchman had entered the dimly lit lab were he encountered what he had imagined to be an arm-flailing intruder whom he quickly subdued with his large, and valuable, chronometer. The Assistant Director, trying not to laugh, informed our department head that the only real damage, other than the watchman’s frayed nerves, was to the “intruder's” head, which had been cleanly removed courtesy of the watchman’s marksman-like aim, and to the chronometer, which would have to be replaced at the department’s expense.

More than a decade later a good friend of mine was taking an art class at a local college. One of his classmates was a member of ROM security who related a story of a security officer who, late one night had been greeted by a hideous writhing creation, complete with horses head and glowing eyes. My friend, having remembered the incident, and my certainty that I would be fired because of it, remained silent.