A glance in the mirror confirms my frustrations. An unwanted bedhead peers back. Damn my hair, I scowl under a wave of 6am coffee breath. And damn my colleague Jenny James for falling ‘ill’ and forcing me into an interview I have no interest in performing.
I should be out managing my biopharmaceutical plant, not trying to tame untamable hair.
Pride quickly replaced prejudice, a reaffirming look in the mirror leaving little doubt I’d need to be on form.
Mr Grey, after all – or to his friends, ALLpaQ Genesis Bioprocess Container – is the subject of today’s interview. Mr Grey’s status in the biopharmaceutical world is hot, so going in half-baked is not an option.
I arrive at the ALLpaQ factory – five minutes late – unkempt hair in tow. It’s dark. The warehouse is filled head to foot with plastic bioprocess containers. A vacant ‘hello’ echoes round the factory, making its way back to my ears. Nobody’s there. A quick fumble in my purse guides my hand towards a torch.
It doesn’t work, the batteries are dead. Damn, could this day get any worse? Mid sigh, a glimmer of hope catches my eye. What looks to be a red bulb flickers at the back of the factory – if I could read Morse code, it was surely beckoning me towards it.
Curiosity killed the cat, I said. Let’s hope I’m not the cat. Gambling with one of nine lives, I head towards the light, hands rubbing along the stacked containers to avoid any unwanted bumps.
From the darkness emerges a spiral staircase. What lies beneath? According to an unreassuring sign, it’s the ‘Games Room’. Restraining my wayward hair in a ponytail, I descend.
The Games Room
With each step, the red of the bulb is washed out by a white light which awaits my arrival. A tap of the floor with my leather shoe confirms I’ve safely reached ground zero. What surrounds my person is a Cleanroom. It’s the type my company uses to control contamination, I thought.
It isn’t the familiarity of the milieu which grabs my attention, though. It’s the bioprocess container commanding attention in the centre of the room. The tales in the media of its alluring beauty had been unkind.
This creature is beyond beautiful; it is stunning by design. My pulse is racing with the passion of an Olympic athlete. It is grey. It is square. It is the most incredible bioprocess container I’ve ever laid eyes on.
“Hello,” I said, composing myself, “I can see why they call you Mr Grey.”
“Take a seat,” he responds. I hesitate. “Take a seat now,” he commands. I acquiesce.
“You have questions for me?”
“Yes,” I say, nervously easing a pad and ballpoint pen from the sheaf of my bag.
“Before we begin,” he adds, “let me establish the rules of this interview.” Taken aback, my head nods almost of it’s own volition. I agree to his demands, a journalistic integrity to ‘get the story’ fuelled by a personal curiosity coursing through my veins.
The interview begins. “Now, you’ve become quite the star in the biopharmaceutical sector over recent years. Why do you think this is?”
A silent pause fills the air. “Why,” I repeat, “do you …”.
“Many reasons,” he interjects, breaking my words mid sentence like an angry scrabble player shaking up the tiles on a board. “These reasons,” he continues, “are inherent in my design. I was born out of a need to resolve the many issues biopharmaceutical companies encounter along their supply chains.”
“Is a steel bioprocess container easy to handle? Does it collapse? Can you stack it? How easy are they to clean? Can you afford the weighty expense of shipping them?”
I’m unsure whether Mr Grey is being rhetorical or posing a set of questions. My doubts are quickly answered as he responds: “No, is the answer upon all counts”. I gesture him to continue. “Plastic bioprocess containment is the bringer of storage, safety and shipment to valuable pharmaceutical media. It is the key in the ignition of fluid handling.”
“Look at my side walls. I’m forged in a passion for plastic and manufactured in virgin material with smooth sides to inhibit bacterial growth.”
“Have a feel,” he commands. Peeling myself from the security of the chair I slink across the room. “Wow, they are so smooth,” I say, running my hands along the side wall.
“Now be seated.” Moving back into position, he continues: “My design also means I can be stacked, one on top of the other, to save valuable space in warehousing and shipment.”
“And, unlike weighty steel equivalents, operators love to handle me as I’m so light.”
“Fold me, collapse me and extend my lifecycle by removing and replacing individual panels.
“These,” he declares, “are but a few of the reasons why biopharmaceutical managers love me.”
Containing my love
Navigating my way back up the spiral staircase and through the darkness of the warehouse, I question whether my nerves curtailed what could have been the best interview of my life.
Be that as it may, this tremendous bioprocess container who goes by the name of Mr Grey had left quite an impression on me. I knew this wouldn’t be the last time we’d meet.