Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dumb F**king Donkeys Strike Back

I’m sure this is common in many labs, departments and offices: Some dumb fucking donkey (DFD) takes advantage of a good situation and everyone suffers because the people in charge prefer punishing everyone instead of confronting the person who is actually causing the problem. These instances might include, but are not limited to the following examples.

DFD situation #1:

DFD takes advantage of ordering by claiming that PI approved the purchase of an expensive reagent or kit (or whatever). After the item is ordered, it is discovered that permission was never granted and PI was completely out of the loop. This happens a few more times and involves the same person.

Solution: Enforce a new rule where ALL orders must gain approval from the PI, causing orders to get placed only once per week as PI does not have time to review orders multiple times a week.

DFD situation #2:

DFD refuses to turn in packing slips when an item arrives. This of course, pisses off the purchasing department, ultimately resulting in the lab manager getting bitched out.

Solution: Instead of speaking to DFD, the entire lab gets a 20 minute lecture on packing slips, what they look like, what they are for, why they are turned in to the purchasing department and what happens when they don’t. The tone of this lecture is extremely condescending and most lab members leave irritated because they don’t appreciate being spoken to like a child. As expected, DFD seems clueless and the problem continues.

DFD situation #3:

Instead of working a full day, the DFD comes in late and leaves early. Unfortunately, this DFD is the lab manager, so ordering is delayed; work orders for equipment repairs are put off, sterile items and media run out, etc. Lab members complain to PI.

Solution: Instead of asking the DFD to work more than 4.5 hours/day, the lab chores that DFD doesn’t want to do are redistributed to the lab members that actually work, i.e. post-docs and grad students.

Personally, I don’t understand why it is so difficult to confront the person who is causing the problem. I’m learning to take this shit in stride and file the experiences under, “Behavior I will not repeat when I obtain my own lab.”

Any DFDs in your lab/office/whatever


chall said...

oh... the lab manager sounds familiar. As does the end result "passing out chores for the rest of the lab since it's 'fairer'" .... ehh... well, I'm not against lab chores per se, but when someone is not doing their job, well don't like.

Can't say much but "placing an order at the person who is responsible for ordering?" no, of course not. You place the order with someone who "actually orders things". yes. Exactly what it sounds like. DUMB.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...


Is this all the same person, btw? Or do you have multiple DFDs?

Anonymous said...

DFD needs a good swift kick in the arse.

Hermitage said...

It burns a bit of your soul each time, dunnit?

I remember in the Olden Times we had a DFD postdoc that never washed his glassware. After a week of their festering in the sink (because he regularly mishandled caustic chemicals and none of us were going to risk washing it), we were treated to a 30min lecture on being vigilant about washing our shit. We called out said DFD who baldfaced lied and said none of them were his, them promptly washed them all when pissy PI was out of sight.

How do these people get jobs? Seriously.

unknown said...

ugh. there are too many things on that list that remind me of my last lab. in my current lab, the PI won't stand for DFD and so she asked them to leave the lab.

Jade said...

Nice post! I can feel your pain. Too bad you don't have a lab credit card so you can place orders without a PO and without the lab manager.
I had to work with a difficult lab manager as well- difficult for other reasons- but it was a major drag.
Since you are a post-doc, perhaps you should talk to the PI about being the manager of this person so that the lab can run more effectively. It sounds like this person needs more supervision.

microbiologist xx said...

chall - I'm not against doing lab chores either. I am not above washing dishes or making some media if that's what I need to do, but yeah, doing extra chores b/c someone wants to spend all of their time drinking coffee after arriving late and leaving early really pisses me off.

cath - It's multiple DFDs, but fortunately only two are mine. The lab manager is from my grad. school lab and the ordering situation is occurring in my current lab. The other DFD is from another lab.

Micro Dr. O - I would love to provide that swift kick, and hey if I do decide to start kicking DFD in the ass, I probably won't get in trouble. Instead, the whole lab will just get a lecture about why we shouldn't kick each other.

Hermitage - Dude, totally. Wow a DFD and a liar. That would have seriously pissed me off. Do you think the PI believed them?
I currently work with a post-doc who doesn't clean up after himself. I take all his dirty shit and put it back on his bench. Fuck a bunch of that.

Girlpostdoc - That is great! It warms my heart to know that there are PIs out there with a zero tolerance for DFDs. I hope I can be among their ranks one day.

Jade - Thanks!
I have never worked in a lab where there was a credit card, but I frequently hear people with more experience than me longing to return to those days. I must admit, it does sound like it was much simpler.
The lab manager DFD was in the lab where I worked as a graduate student, so that wouldn't have been an option. However, I doubt it would have made a difference. This person knew the PI was not going to get rid of them, so they wouldn't have listened to me anyway.

bitter chall ^^ said...

I had to go back and reread this today considering what just happened.

Is it fair to just suddenly fall ill and leave?!? It's not really a lie b/c certain behaviour just makes me..... yuack.

anyway, sorry, needed to vent somewhere where people would understand - I just want some "decent" behaviour in the work environment. Is that really too much to ask?

/off I go to do the stuff I need to do.... and some other ppl's too... apparently.

Hermitage said...

Postdoc DFD lied all the time, our PI just developed a bullshit filter and generally knew when he'd vented enough for shit to get done, even if DFD denied all responsibility up front.

Anonymous said...

I'm dealing with #3 right now too. Now I got to deal with more bullsh*t because I'm the one who complained (again, others have complained before, going back years). Basically I'm to the point where everyone else in the lab can f*ck off, I'm looking out for #1, and the rest of the lab can go to hell, it's not worth my time to try to fix, again.