Stupid vs. Devious
Lately I have a few (let's say 3) people in my work life who purport to be helping me, but whom I just don't trust.
Or maybe they're really just clueless, because some of the things they do seriously undermine me, fuck up my work, and get in my way.
Not knowing which is seriously hindering my ability to decide what (if anything) I can do about it.
1. The boss
Yes, I've blogged before about some of the PI-postdoc relationship problems.
The boss does things like making the titles of my papers so overstated that the reviewers can't help but say we haven't done what we claimed.
But it's really only the title that's the problem, because that's generally the main thing insisted upon by my PI. I have to pick my battles, and that is one I always lose.
Let me also mention, it has actually come to pass before that my PI deliberately refused to let me publish. Eventually, having failed to come up with sufficient excuses, PI made a lot of idiotic changes to the manuscript and then "suggested" reviewers whom I never would have picked in a million years.
Stupid? Or devious?
In all logic, PI should want to publish my work as much as I do. And yet. There have been so many cases of apparent sabotage... it starts to look like either the PI is a complete idiot (nevermind 20 years of experience on me), or it's all deliberate. I have seen PI stab other people in the back before, so why would I assume it's not the same with me?
2. The student
The student claims to want to help in lab. Wants to learn. Wants lab experience.
Student has, of late, been fucking things up. Not taking notes. Not looking at old notes. Mixing things up.
Student is on 2nd chance already; do I give a 3rd?
I'm torn because I know this student does not want a career in research, and I respect that. But let's be honest: this student couldn't have a career in research anyway.
There, I said it. I've had other students. This one would be a no-go as a technician, nevermind in a graduate program where independence would be required.
But I do need an extra set of hands for some simple tasks.
And not much chance of getting a replacement student anytime soon.
What has occurred to me, however, is that the student is the sort who might try to get kicked out, rather than quit.
So, stupid, I think probably yes (both of us).
But devious too? Or just more stupid than I realized?
And before you ask why I hired this student- this was the only one who applied.
3. The collaborator
I have lots of collaborators, and some are trustworthy individuals devoted to doing good work...and some are less so.
This one in particular is, I think, only stupid in an EQ way.
Some of the things this collaborator is doing appear quite devious.
For example, in timing, a devious thing to do is making suggestions in front of our other collaborators that should have been discussed first in private. The ambush tactic. It's awkward, and somewhat rude, and usually in my experience, deliberate. Especially when immediately afterward, instead of realizing their mistake, they make the "What, me?" face, like they didn't do anything wrong.
What I can't figure out is whether it is worth continuing this collaboration, given the added stress of working with this person.
Keeping in mind, I really don't have room in my life for added stress of any kind.
Even worse, some of our other collaborators have said they don't like this person and are considering backing out because of that.
I don't think it's worth sacrificing the whole project, but we'd have to find someone else, which is also a source of stress.
Upon confrontation in private, Collaborator claims to be working on communication skills, and has this great new insight, making progress, etc.
This has happened a couple of times now, although I haven't really brought out the Big Confrontation Guns and said Fix This, or Get Out Now.
Because Collaborator always apologizes.
I just can't tell if this is sincere.
My habit would normally be to cut off all ties with someone like this, because whether it's intentional or not, it's unacceptable and it's jeopardizing the project.
But this is the Grown Up World and we have to learn to work with all kinds of people... right? And maybe I'm just being paranoid?
So... to sum up:
I think the student often pretends to understand, but doesn't. I feel like this is a test for my patience, among other things.
The PI only admits to making a mistake when it's too late, which makes me wonder if it wasn't the intended outcome all along. Otherwise, you might expect a person to learn the next time around that the procedure should be 1. Listen to MsPhD, it's her project. 2. Have nothing to apologize for later.
And I just don't know what to do about the collaborator. It makes me angry just thinking about it.
I don't think I have the energy right now to deal with most of this, but the only non-optional one is the Boss.
So do I tell the others to fuck off? What do you think?