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Anyone have a post doc they want to strangle?

  1. Apr 23, 2012 #1
    There's a post doc in my lab who almost never shows up for work, in the past two weeks I think I've seen him once in lab for a few hours. The only other time he shows up is when there is a lab meeting (food is served every time). When he comes in he talks condescendingly to me asking where 'his' glassware, chemicals, etc. got moved and is also annoyed when we don't have any clean spatulas available. I swear to Christ I'm about to strangle this guy next time he tries to talk down to me. I'm not even an established member in this lab yet and absolutely would not care at this point if I were to get kicked out if I got into a huge tussle with this guy. What the hell is he getting paid for? To show up to lab for 3 hours once every two weeks? No wonder people have been waiting 6 months for him to make some things they are waiting on.

    Anyone else have a clueless post doc in their lab they absolutely hate?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2012 #2
    I know one, Michael Slackenerny in PhD Comics :-)

    By the way I'm a PhD student who also does not show up in the lab except once or twice a week but this is because I'm theorist/computationalist and hence being in the lab, coffee shop or home are equally well to do research :-)
  4. Apr 23, 2012 #3
    I will be a postdoc in 5 years, and I am wondering what is the work like? How can a guy not show up to do his job? Isn't his time being tracked?

    But I giggled when reading your frustrations. Don't allow him to get to you though.

    I had a similar situation with someone felt it was entitled to lead a presentation when it didn't do anything. And, before the presentation, at the final group meeting, she (mind you we all heard and seen her call her dad and had him wire her $700 a week back) decided not to pay for her portion of the meal as she said "I don't have enough money" but still decided to order a meal. So we all had to start chipping in even more of our money to pay for a $100 meal.

    One of the reasons I hate group work is that I have to deal with other people, so I try to avoid it at all costs. So I kind know what you are going through. IT is really hard to just let it go, you begin fantasizing about giving the person a good smack across the mouth but we all know we cannot do such a thing because then we turn into the bad guy in an instant.
  5. Apr 23, 2012 #4
    Do the right thing and make her settle the bill for the meal. If she refuses, take the matter to small claims court. That's what it's for.

    It's not the smallness of the bill that should determine what you do here; it's the enormity of the insult that she doesn't attempt to pay you all back.

    Make her pay!
  6. Apr 23, 2012 #5


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    You've got two issues here that you need seperate. The first is this person's condescending attitude. Everyone - including the lab student - is entitled to work in a respectful environment.

    Have you confronted this peron on this issue? Have you let him know that you feel as if you're being spoken down to? Unfortunately some people have odd senses of humour and maybe this is his way of joking around with you. I'm not saying that excuses it. But dealing with it professionally and assertively is very likely to resolve it in a better manner than getting into a "tussle."

    The second issue is your time keeping. The only legitimate concern you have is that perhaps he is impeding your progress. Otherwise, his hours are between him and the PI he reports to. Post-doctoral work is not nine-to-five.
  7. Apr 23, 2012 #6


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    The post doc's work schedule is worked out between the post doc and his or her employer. Usually, you don't punch a clock. (If the post doc is paid hourly in most cases it won't work out in the PI's favour.)

    One of the things about group work is that it helps you to develop the skills for when you have to do it out in the real world. A big misunderstanding is that the group work itself teaches you groupwork skills. In my experience it does no such thing. What it does do however is provide you with a proving ground. You have to figure out how to make things work for yourself.

    An anecdotal observation that I've made is that people seem to prefer to avoid dealing with people like this and having those crucial conversations that put everything out in the open and then seek resolution. Instead they prefer to let the situation build up until it becomes so intolerable that irrational acts seem like viable options. I'm not sure why this is.
  8. Apr 23, 2012 #7


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    I would hazard a guess that people don't like confrontation and convince themselves that things will either change, someone else will say something, or things will fix themselves magically.
  9. Apr 24, 2012 #8


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    Hey, I think you should pay it forward and make sure that all of your wash bottles are empty, all glassware not in use is dirty in a tub by the sink, hide all the spatulas and my favorite... put a question mark next to the concentration of most of the reagents (bu-li and so forth). When asked about the question mark, feign ignorance. It works best if videotaped.

    Record, watch, repeat.
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