Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does your Mother really have to work here?!

So in our lab (mine and my husband's are currently melded), we try to get people to personally "invest" in their projects because it's their future. We also try to instill in them a sense of community in the lab because the lab environment - how well it runs and how they get along with their colleagues - can greatly impact their's and the lab's success. So to me, these concepts don't seem all that hard. For example:

-we have lab jobs - filling pipet racks, filling water carboy, making shared reagents etc. They rotate quarterly.

-we also have a strict sign in, use, clean up and sign out policy in the tissue culture room. In this way, you should always find the TC hood ready for you when it's your alloted time. Sometimes, the autoclavable waste is full at the end of your session, sometimes the pipet bins need refilling, sometimes the ethanol spray bottle needs refilling. If you do these things when they happen on your "shift", then you should expect that others will do the same for you.

-we ask that you watch shared reagents like gels, antibodies, tissue culture flasks, tissue culture aliquots etc. and when you see them getting low, tell the technician with enough leeway so she can realiquot or reorder to avoid interruptions.

Simple right? Seems like these should be simple human courtesies you learn in kindergarden. Right?

Well, no, actually wrong? Inevitably there is one person in the lab who doesn't feel the need to follow these rules. I interpret this as the "my time is more important that yours so I'll take what I need for my experiments and it's too bad if when it comes to your experiments, they get delayed because the reagent is unavailable" attitude.

Then there's the cleaning up after yourself, good citizen behavior. Especially in the tissue culture room, I find bleach splattered all around, trash on the floor, pipets not refilled waste bins full. This is usually in the morning so of course it's the "I'm in late and want to get home mentality and I know that Dr. Smith will be in first in the morning and will clean it up" mentality.

So I hate to say it but 99% of the time, the problem person is male. And most often, there's one or two females who "see" the lab, notice things and invest in keeping the lab running. Unfortunately, it's usually their experiments which get interrupted by the lack of this other person's lack of social skills.

And so once again, I'm setting up sanctions. Come on people, aren't you 25 years old, and aren't you 31. Why is this so hard? Do you really care that little about your surroundings? Don't you understand that if your labmates are successful, then most likely you and the lab in general will benefit from that? Are you really that self-centered? Does your Mother really have to work here?!

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