I generally love the lab that I am in: I’ve learned to patch cells here and even though I (still) don’t have my own funding, my PI allows me to do the research that I want, and I even got a technician who is helping me with that. I love that we go sailing in the summer on a weekday, and I love that every single person in my lab likes to cook and eat delicious food (which we often do). I love that we help each other out: this past week all 15 of us helped a labmate move to a new place. I love a lot of other things about the lab that I am in too.
What I don’t love (and I’ve written about this before), is that all this fun that we’re having means that some people rarely ever do any work anymore. There are days when people come in, start with coffee at the coffee table that is strategically placed in the middle of the lab, sit there long enough for lunch to start, and then hang out until it’s time for an ever-present beer from the lab fridge. New people that join our lab do so because they like that we’re having shots at 2PM or because we have a potluck every week when the PI is traveling.
And I hate to feel like such a grumpy person, but this really annoys me (as I said this morning on twitter). Especially now that I have BlueEyes, I try to work pretty efficient, which means that for most of the day I am busy doing something. And being busy while other people are sitting at the table laughing together makes me feel lonely. It makes me feel a loser for being at work instead of hanging out. And when I’m doing a slice experiment, I’ll usually hang out and talk when I’m waiting for my drug to wash onto my cell, but especially on days when I’m working hard but stuff doesn’t work, it makes me feel alone.
I’ve debated whether I should talk to my PI about this, but that feels too much like telling on people. Besides, I leave everyday around 4PM to pick BlueEyes up from daycare, so who am I to say something anyway? And my PI takes pride in his so-called ‘hands-off’ mentorship. The one time I suggested that one of the grad students could perhaps use a bit more guidance (he’s in his 7th year with no papers yet); he said that he wasn’t that type of a mentor.
So I guess I’m going to continue to find a balance between work and play, keep a smile on my face and remember that somewhere in the world there are people working.