Protip: When you decide to spout off in a bar about how stupid you think a person/group/department is, you should chose a venue closer to your home turf than theirs.
And now the story.
A co-worker and I decided to conduct the final phase of our workday at Beckett's, a pub style bar close to the office. I find that a collegial atmosphere in the presence of decent music and a pint of 1554 inspires much more productive thought in the field of radiation safety. We're have a decent chat about the lay of the land and cunning plans for how to fix some of the errors of old, when a horde of people wandered in talking loudly in order to be heard over each other. Classic researcher pay-attention-to-me-my-research-penis-is-bigger-than-yours increasing volume shouting.
We were about to move to another place in the bar, when I sushsed my co-worker in order to listen to a story being told which was sufficiently interesting to the horde for the yelling to die down. It was being told in the "aren't these people idiots?" tone of voice and cadence (I know it well since I seem to use it often). The keywords of "tritium" and "dose" were what got my attention.
He was talking about a tritium contaminated piece of land at Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Laboratory and the interactions he'd had with various people regarding the contamination. He'd had members of the public who wanted to talk about the ethical quality of tritium, with the implication that tritium contamination in the soil that came from medicine was good
tritium but contamination as a result of research was bad
tritium. I sympathize with coping with that kind ignorance and emotion applied to things.
But then he went a step too far.
Spouting Off Idiot: "Of course, they let goats graze there. You know what happens next? The guys from EH&S actually collect the goat urine and test it."
Other Person: "Why do they do that?"
SOI: "Why does EH&S do anything? They've got nothing better to do."
I put down my pint a bit loudly on the bar. Reached in my wallet and took out a business card. I then walked over, extended my hand, introduced myself, and offered my card.
Me: "Hi, I'm Phil. I do radiation safety for EH&S on campus."
*crowd gets rather quiet and backs away from the two of us*
Me: "Do have any idea what the Superfund cleanup requirements and sampling protocols are for LBL?"
Me: "Did it occur to you that the goats have been put there on purpose to collect bioaccumulation data on tritium?"
*SOI says nothing*
Me: "Perhaps you'd like to learn a bit more about it so you can speak on the topic more intelligently to your colleagues here. You got a business card? I'd be happy to send the folks from EH&S up at LBL your way to fill you in."
SOI: "Sorry, man."
Me: "No need to apologize to me."
*Phil returns to his drink at the bar*
Conversation was somewhat subdued after that and the party moved upstairs. I'd killed the everyone is stupid but us buzz.