Back in 2003, I replied to an itty-bitty ad in the Miami Herald’s classified section. It simply said, “Geologist needed.”
“With such a specific job description, I would be a fool NOT to apply,” I thought.
During my interview at Terraine, I was asked questions like,
- “Do you have any issues with staying in cheesy hotels?
- “How do you feel about working in adverse *cough* heat stroke *cough* conditions?”
- “What would you do if you were in the field, and all of your equipment broke at the same time?”
For most people, these types of questions would set off some warning flags. Or perhaps warning sirens. Big ones. Like outdoor warning systems for tornadoes. But not me – oh, no, no, no! Given that I had just left a 2 ½-year volunteer stint in Haiti, I answered the questions like a pro:
- “Will the hotels have hot water?”
- “Will it be hotter than the sauna that is Port-au-Prince?”
- “Oh, unexpected logistical issues? Let me tell you about the time that I had to make photocopies and got stuck in the middle of a protest. Rocks were a flyin’, tires were a burnin’, I hit a car and then just kept going (because what sane person would get out in the middle of a rock-storm).”
I got the job, which, during the first three years, consisted of routine groundwater sample collection in the state of Florida. During those initial years, I learned some very important and basic principles for any sampler:
- Everything is relative. You think it’s hot outside? Step into a steamy port-a-potty at a groundwater sampling site. Step outside again, and the 100-degree heat isn’t all that bad!
- Always bring a screwdriver. No, not for popping well lids. It’s the field sampler’s ninja throwing star for all things creepy, including black widows, scorpions, snakes, alligators, toothless men…
- Collecting purge data on paper is about efficient as watching laundry dry on a clothes line.
To further explain 3: Yes, initially I had to frequent Motel 6s and use toothpicks and bubble gum to fix things, but one thing I never had to do was write my field data on paper. Around the same time I came on board, my boss discovered this offline database platform called Adesso; built an environmental sampling application, EnvironPro; installed it on a Pocket PC; and put it in an Otter Box for me to use. Paper became a thing of the past. I never had to dry out my paper field logs on the dash of my truck or on top of the hotel room AC unit. I never had to transcribe my data after just getting back from an 80-hour week in the field. I was able to print out accurate, auto-filled field forms quickly, which was a life-saver given that I had, on average, twelve reports to write every three months. Adesso became the end-all, be-all for me, and what made all of the other field challenges manageable.
Eight years later, some things have changed. Terraine owns Adesso; we’ve rolled out multiple improved versions of the database platform; and we serve clients outside of the environmental industry, even outside of the US. But what remains the same is our desire to improve the lives of those of you that are out in the field collecting data every day. We’ve been there; we know what it’s like. We want better for you.
Move data forward.
Karen Baer, LRS