I think we’ve all experienced instances where our PI’s say something that makes us want to laugh in their face, particularly when it comes to experiments. For example, “Microbiologist XX, I know you just told me you were going map the 5’ end of your favorite transcript using primer extension, but do you think that will be finished by tomorrow?” Microbiologist XX suppresses laughter and replies “Well, our protocol requires at least two days to complete assuming that you already extracted your RNA, which I haven’t.”
The more time a PI spends away from the bench, the more they forget how long a particular protocol takes to complete. It’s amusing if things are going well, but if you’re already working your ass off and things aren't going as planned, it’s more likely to make you wish you could impale your PI with rusty spatula dipped in nitric acid.
Apparently, my post doc mentor is quite the comedian as well, but not intentionally. My goal is to submit grants by the end of this year/beginning of next year and obviously, more publications are better than less. Magnum, PI asked if I was working on a second manuscript with my graduate school PI and I informed him that I was indeed working on the second paper. Then, Magnum, PI asked me something terribly funny. He wanted to know if the paper would get submitted before my grant? It was all I could do not to laugh. He, of course, does not know that writing a paper with grad. school PI takes at least a year, if not more. He doesn’t know that we will go through 50 revisions. He doesn’t know that the last 25 revisions will center around rearranging 5 to 10 sentences and he also doesn’t know that the 40th version of the manuscript is almost identical to the 27th version. I do know these things, and the only way I can keep from losing my mind during the process is to find the humor.
Then it was my turn to accidentally make a joke. I asked Magnum, PI if he thought the paper we were working on would get submitted before my grant. He looked surprised at my question and I am pretty sure he wanted to laugh, but all he said was, “Of course it will. Why wouldn’t it be?” I almost fell out of my chair. Write and submit a manuscript in less than four months? Seriously?
I really hope that this is true. One of my biggest disappointments about grad school lab was how fucking long it took to get papers written and submitted and the fact that I graduated with 3 papers needing to get pushed out the door. I understand going through several revisions, but nitpicking individual sentences where the outcome is basically the same sentence is extremely frustrating.