Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nope, I don't have the ability to communicate with ESP.

After working here in post-doc lab for just over a year and a half, I've noticed a thing or two about how the lab is run. One of those things is that my mentor, Magnum, PI is a total puss about letting people go. As a result, there are a few individuals who, on a good day, qualify as useless. One such individual is in charge of (1) ordering, (2) sterilizing and (3) keeping certain lab items stocked (i.e. 50 ml conical tubes, sterile pipettes, tips of all shapes and sizes, 96-well plates, etc.) Because this person has a zeal for autoclaving, and nothing else, I will refer to them as the sterilizer (TS). TS does not exhibit any inclination for ordering or keeping items stocked. This causes me and many others in the lab to make frequent trips around the floor tracking down tips, tubes and missing orders.
Before I left on vacation, we were completely out of 200ul tips. TOTALLY FUCKING OUT. Like a great many other researchers, I use 200ul tips all day, everyday. These are essential and I get very upset when I do not have any. I get even more upset when I subsequently find that we are also out of conical tubes, small gloves and 5ml pipettes. Thankfully, I went on vacation before I located TS and punched them in their idiot face. Over the next week my rage and desire to punch idiot faces subsided and I returned to work to find everything restocked, except small gloves. I felt a sting of irritation when I noted this, but decided not to dwell. However, this all changed today.

Note: Before I left for vacation, I ordered a chemical. Suffice it to say, that if I order a fucking chemical it is because I need it, not because it comes in a pretty bottle or because I am trying to round out my collection of chemicals that start with beta or whatever the fuck. Yesterday, this chemical had not arrived. Of course, TS wasn't here, so I had to wait until today to have this glorious conversation and trip around the floor.
MXX: "TS could you please check on a chemical that I ordered two weeks ago. It really should have come in by now."
TS: "You haven't received it?"
MXX: "Noooo." (In my mind I am saying: NO YOU FUCKING IDIOT! Why do you think I am asking about it??!?!?!)
TS looks through orders and finds the order form I handed in, then informs me: "It came in, PersonX put it away."
MXX: "Thanks." I proceed to person X
MXX: "TS told me that you received a chemical that I ordered last week. Could you tell me where it's at?"
PersonX: "I gave it to that skinny guy in your lab." (note: that skinny guy is what person X calls my graduate student as person X doesn't bother to learn our names.)
MXX: "OK. Thanks." I proceed to skinny guy and ask him about the chemical, but he informs me the only thing he received for me was ligase, which I already knew about. So, I proceed back to TS.
MXX: "Soooooooooo. Person X claims they gave it to my grad. student. My grad. student only received ligase, not the chemical I am looking for."
TS (looking at packing slip again): "Let me call the company, it looks like the chemical didn't ship."
MXX: "uhhhhh, OK" (In my head: What fucking new magical information just appeared on the sheet that now explains it didn't ship, when 10 minutes ago, not only did it ship, but it was noted that a specific person put it away????!!!!!!!)
TS calls company and then turns to me: "Oh, that's right. The order was cancelled because the item was discontinued. Remember, I told you that."
MXX: "Really? When exactly did you tell me that?"
TS: "Last week."
MXX: "You mean, last week when I was on a rock in the middle of the pacific ocean?"
TS: "Yes."
MXX: "Seriously? Was this a psychic message or what? I WAS NOT here last week."
TS: "Hmph. Well, I know I told you."
MXX: : LOUD sigh. "Whatever!" (In my head: Must not kill useless idiot. Must not kill useless idiot. Must not kill useless idiot.)


chall said...

sounds fun. mine isn't that bad but almost.... or something. If you remember the whole "dressing up and moving into a BSL3 level lab and then realizing that the stuff you need (that everyone needs in there, like sterile syringes and I don't know, gloves) are out. The person who was in there last didn't care to stock it since they weren't coming back in two weeks or so"

Yes, "not kill useless" was a mantra for me today too.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

WOW. I thought this was going to be a post about PIs expecting people to magically know what they want, and was preparing to empathise and add my own anecdotes to the list, but WOW. This is even worse than that. Good luck staying out of jail, eh?

ScientistMother said...

why does EVERY lab have a USELESS individual? Do PI"s have some insight into their usefulness that, we trainees just dont' see??

LabMom said...

Do you work in MY lab? We have a similar useless being! At least yours like autoclaving.. ours acts like she has never seen an autoclave before and that is her job!!!


microbiologist xx said...

chall - Oh that would seriously piss me off. Surprisingly in my last lab we rarely had problems with the BSL3 remaining appropriately stocked. I think my head would have exploded.
I hope you refrained from any murderous impulses.

cath - All I managed yesterday was a huge headache, which is way better than jail. That whole using a toilet that doesn't have a seat is a quite a deterrent for me.

SM - I am going to go out on a limb and say, yes. Every lab has a useless member. Supposedly TS used to be really good at their job, but not since I started working here. I am sure they are burned out, but still. I want sterile items and shit that I order.

LabMom - I am willing to bet that the autoclaving is going to fall by the wayside too. Eventually TS will just sit in front of a computer and stair blankly when you ask for or about anything. Sorry to hear you have one of these too. blech