Murder by Cholesterol


I despised one of the scientists I was forced to work with in graduate school. He was a bad manager, an unorganized scientist, a poor teacher, and extremely full of himself. He was practically forced out of a national lab for being a lightweight.

So I decided to assist in triggering the heart attack he seemed constantly worried about. It never happened though, so I have nothing to confess and there’s no reason to bring me in for questioning.

I didn’t do anything especially sneaky or covert. I knew that he needed to work on his cholesterol, that he was trying to work on his cholesterol, and that he was as bad at his health as he was his science. I simply presented the opportunity for him to make it worse.

One morning, I stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts on my way into the lab. I brought in a dozen doughnuts and left them in the break room. I took one and I left the rest to the fate of the Universe. He eventually discovered them and took one after a bit of fretting. Once he’d sinned, he decided to have another. That’s the secret to murder: give them the opportunity in small steps and they’ll take care of the rest. Once he had one doughnut, he might as well have 10.

It’s a weird social thing that anyone, with no prior notice or authority, can abandon food in a break and that people will eat it. Well, you can not abandon your food, write your name on it, hide it at the back of a refrigerator, and other people will eat it, so obviously free food should have a much less surprisingly fate. And, at the end of the day, I found five dollars and change in the box! The other scientists must have chipped in when they took something, which is what civilized people do; they trade abandoned trash for valuable money. That checks out; they were stand-up guys. The target scientist, however, who knows if he chipped in.

He did ask that I bring in muffins instead the next day.

Bitch, please.

I brought in doughnuts again the next day, using the money everyone else had thrown in. Same result: five bucks at the end of the day.

The next day I brought in pizza and I left it in my office, although you could smell it throughout the wing. The target asked for a couple of slices. Sure, have some of this greasy pizza. Have that pepperoni slice. Go on, take it.

After that, I’d do it again every so often, and he could never control himself. Fuck him.

It ramped up one evening when the entire team was working around the clock. I went to the grocery store to get rations, including a box of Entemann’s doughnuts. I left the bag and everything in it at my station, and I’d unpack it later for dinner.

Soon the target was snooping in the back, despite it not being at his station (he didn’t have a space assigned to him because it was all his space). He’s the sort of guy who would go through the personal items in your desk with a big show of “May I?” knowing that no one is going to refuse the Big Boss (although one Romanian scientist had his number).

Throughout the evening he circles the hoping something was opened, so I delayed and delayed. I could see him becoming more agitated by this, but he wasn’t grasping his left arm and gasping yet, so his heart was still ticking.

Eventually he couldn’t stand it anymore and asked if he could open the doughnuts. Sure, have at it. He was quicker than he was graceful, and I felt bad that he was so weak. Not only was he personally weak, but as the Big Boss with no other function, he should have been taking care of the team.

The guy kept living, but I decided to leave grad school, mostly because of him and the realization that there would be no good jobs in Physics. I never had to deal with him again, but I, as well as other graduate students, helped people not choose him as their advisor.

I no longer hope he has that heart attack, but I won’t be said if he does.