Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm not your fucking support staff!!!

Okay, this is one of those rants that will be short and angry. FSP has written on this topic before.

....

Memo to the fucking administrative staff:

Contrary to your entitled attitude, I am not YOUR support staff. Highly trained monkeys CANNOT do what I do. And yet, in support of your arrogance, I make half as much as you do, have zero job security, and everyone treats me like dirt.

The least you could do is STAY THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY AND LET ME DO MY JOB!!!!

....

Okay I could go on but I have to go watch Sherri on Lifetime and stop grinding my teeth.

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5 Comments:

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely, positively, unequivocably agree! There's a reason they are called SUPPORT staff. Of course, if you mention this you just look like an ass, but its true. Lesser educated people on power trips is what it amounts to. And yes, the unfortunate reality is many of them make more money than we do, which is one of the great injustices of academic science.

P.S. Hilariously, the word verification for this comment is "dupes". Perhaps blogger is trying to tell us something???

 
At 11:13 AM, Anonymous ennuiherself said...

By support/administrative staff, do you mean the secretaries and the like? The awesome people (at least in my world) who make sure that stuff gets done, usually correctly and in a timely manner? Are those the people you're equating to "highly trained monkeys?"

I'm pretty new to your blog, please tell me there's some backstory here and that you're not insulting all admin.

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in a research institute. I was recruited into my current department due to some unique skills I have that I am using on a project that I'm leading. Unfortunately now all my senior colleagues (AND their postdocs who are junior to me) want me to do things for them and for their projects so that I have no time to work on my own project. The work that they want me to do is extremely time consuming and tedious type of sample preparation, it's not like just doing a quick measurement for someone as a favor instead it requires substantial amounts of my time. I'm not your f****ing lab tech!!! In fact, some of the people asking me to do work for them, are perfectly capable of doing it themselves (just that, truthfully, they are amateurish at it compared to me because I was a specialist, but that is THEIR problem not mine, if they don't want to spend the time to brush up their lab skills, I say let their research suffer).

I told them to hire a lab tech and I'll be happy to train the tech in these techniques. But they say they dont' have the money to hire a lab tech so that's why they want me to do it. Apparently once I got recruited, all the senior scientists went "yippee finally we have an unoffical lab tech and can now start all these new projects we couldnt' before because we were too lazy to learn new skills ourselves"... I'm employed on a contract and I'm afraid that if I keep refusing to do other people's work for them that my contract will not be renewed and I'll be out of a job.

Granted, if I do give in and do some of their work I think I could insist on being a co-author and they wouldn't refuse. but since I've been in this position before, I'm sick of it and I don't want to be in this position anymore, and I don't need any more middle-author papers. I need more time to focus on my own research and publish first-author papers, not enabling other people's research and their first-author papers.

It's not that I feel entitled like this work is SO beneath me, rather it's an issue of fairness. If I see my peers rolling up their sleeves and doing their own dirty work, then I'm happy to do it too. But why should I bust my ass (since the work is long and tedious) enabling other people's research when no one is enabling my research or doing the same for each other?? Like I said, this work is for a lab tech, not for someone with several years of postdoctoral experience. They don't want to spend money to hire a real tech, and they don't want to spend the time to develop their own skills to do the work themselves (in the absence of a tech) instead they want me to do it for them. the contract renewal is their bargaining chip.

In the end, I told them OK I will do it, but it will take me X number of weeks/months to get it done because I don't have time. That shut some of them up or at least dampened their heady enthusiasm about starting new projects but having me unofficially do the dirty work for them. Get your own damn lab tech or spend the time to learn new skills yourself.

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

ennui- no, not all of them. in this case, a particular set of petty, miserable people who get their way by making everyone else miserable, too.

anon 6:38,

it's funny, in my lab this is actually pretty common. it's sort of the assembly-line effect. the people who are good at westerns "help" and "train" each other. the people who are good at other things- well if I say "here is my protocol, you can watch me do it, feel free to ask me questions, I'll even do the first one for you, but after that you'll have to optimize for your own system because I don't have time and you're not offering me authorship"- then I am being the unmotivated loser/bitch. I'm sick of it. This particular technique could be done by highly trained monkeys, and yes my protocol really is so simple that undergrads can and do follow it correctly. But I can't win. When I try your tactic of "okay but it might take a while" they just nag nag nag nag nag until I'm forced to do it or blow up at them to back off.

Then again lately I just want to blow up at everybody all the time...

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about the admin situation, too. There are definitely some power-hungry admins out there who enjoy working for the "big man" or "big woman," because they can influence their decisions so much. In fact, I've seen senior lab techs and lab managers do the same thing, regarding others in the lab - they are closest to the boss (PI) and can really influence the PI in a lot of ways.

However, there are some good admins out there who are genuinely helpful and kind.

Anyway, I feel your pain. I had to deal with a power-hungry admin a few months ago. She went about some paperwork completely improperly and then tried to blame everything on another, lower-ranking admin in another department. She even lied about the sequence of events, even though a few of us knew exactly how things had transpired. But, she's the center director's admin, and she can influence him enough to have people fired for non-research related things, from what I hear. She inspires fear in everyone around her.

 

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