Recently, I went from sharing an office with an insanely disgruntled grad student to sharing an office with an over-emotional post-doc (OEP) and all I can say is, I want the disgruntled grad student back.
OEP is working on a project that includes elements that are out of Magnum, PI’s (and the rest of the labs) expertise. However, I happen to know a shit-ton about this subject and as a result, I am the go-to person. In general, I don't mind this. I think part of working in a lab includes passing down knowledge and assisting your fellow lab mates. I draw the line at hand-holding.
At first, I tried to help. I explained concepts, techniques and went out of my way to make sure OEP knew where to look for information, and fielded numerous questions. This area was unfamiliar territory for OEP and I was happy to help. After a while, I expected OEP to take charge of the project and use me for troubleshooting or discussing data. I am willing to help, but the person I am helping needs to help themselves as well. Unfortunately, it seems like I am basically steering the project and I am wondering if OEP can function as an independent researcher.
I am constantly called on to look at data, explain data, explain what experiments to do next, etc. When I ask basic questions about results, I don’t get answers, I get blank stares. When I inquire about reading into certain topics I get answers like, “I didn’t know I should look at that.” When I ask, what are the limitations of this program or technique you are using, I get more blank stares. In a nutshell, OEP seems clueless.
Now, I would imagine that not having a clue is frustrating and I assume that this is why OEP breaks down in tears every other week. I am sympathetic, but to a point. I don't want to come to work and deal with someone crying or complaining about how they should just give up. It's exhausting and not to sound like a bitch, but I really don't have time for this. I've actually got my own projects to work on.
Am I being to hard on OEP? Maybe. When I started in this lab, I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, but I learned. I read many papers, I researched protocols, techniques, machines and brushed up on my biochemistry (big time). And yes, I asked my lab mates and Magnum, PI questions, but no one was holding my hand telling me what to do.
I'm at a loss as to what I should do. I don't even know that there is anything I can do. There really isn't anyone else in the lab that can help OEP. I don't want OEP to fail, but I am not willing to sacrifice half my time to steer another project and pick up the pieces every other week.