Alexander – or Alec, as his family called him – was well known by his classmates and later his colleagues because his head was so busy he forgot a lot of other things, like chores on the farm. One time when he was little, he was thinking so hard he ran straight into the monkey bars – with his face! – and broke his nose. He just wasn’t paying attention. His friends laughed and teased him: “You look like a boxer now, even if you’ve never even boxed!”
Alec was always a little messy and careless. If his mother asked him to pick up his room, he’d begin. And then he’d get distracted by a toy or an idea and would spend ages thinking. His room and his clothes always looked untidy. Especially with those dirty handkerchiefs thrown all over the room.
Alec was allergic, so from spring to summer his nose ran all of the time. In the autumn, he always caught cold after cold, and they lasted all through the winter to spring again!
“I really wish my nose would stop dripping!” he’d say to himself and blew his nose for the hundredth time that day, then put the used handkerchief on the table next to dozen others.
He went to school to become a doctor. He specialized in studying bacteria and natural antiseptics – things that helped destroy bacteria. In those times, people could actually die from a small finger cut if it got infected! And they used bubbly things like peroxide or acid on serious injuries, which made people more ill.
One day, he took a sample from a sick man’s drippy nose to collect bacteria in a small dish. It was difficult because the poor man couldn’t stop sneezing and…