Backpost Rant

Written a way way long time ago now…

Last week my boss was at a conference in California and during this time I got 3 emails and 2 phone calls about the monkey budget. Someone over in the finance department wanted approval for some charges to our monkey account. I told two people over the phone that I felt that, as a lab tech, it was not my place to have the final say in financial decisions regarding our grant. I told them my boss would be back on Monday and they should try calling her then. -as a side note I didn’t understand what was so urgent. If they really needed this accomplished by a deadline they should not have waited till 4 business days beforehand to contact my boss. She’s only in her office a max of three days a week and she always takes at least a month to get back to anyone. In my opinion people who have been working with her should start to anticipate this and to ask her well in advance.-


Well I was wrong, apparently it is my place. I have been made the primary contact on the Monkey budget by my boss. Wonderful. I’m thrilled. PS, this does not come with a raise despite the fact that the email informing me of this decision from the finance department started out the email by stating “As the person who oversees [my boss’s] research you have been made the primary contact for the monkey budget” and went on for 5 pages explaining exactly what all this involved and the complex purchase order coding I am to use to dole out funds.

Two days after receiving this email I had a meeting with my boss in which she asked me if I would be willing to consent patients for our study. I told her no. Which obviously surprised her.

The bottom line is I feel like it’s not my job. Part of “The Research Coordinator”’s (TRC) job is to recruit patients. That’s what we pay her for. I feel like if you want me to do part of TRC’s job, that it’s only fair that I get part of TRC’s salary too (as research coordinator positions are listed for twice my salary).

I was hired as a lab tech, to run tests on the specimens that are collected in the past week I’ve been made primary contact on the monkey budget, in addition to all my other lab duties. I already am responsible for giving my boss financial updates on our other grant, I maintain the lab’s inventory, I run experiments, I process tissue and maintain our databases (with more than 500 patients). Plenty. Thanks.

All this and I would like to add that I have been working in this particular lab for 2.5 years and I just looked at the job postings online and I am making precisely 13 more cents an hour than someone would as a new hire.


Trust her, she’s a doctor…

-This was obviously written a while ago-

So our second year fellow swung by the lab today to pick up some primate specimens from the -80 freezer. I don’t have time now that I’m leaving to help her search for samples, so I pointed her in the right direction and left her to look while I went back to my computer for a bit. I went to check on her 10 minutes later and find the -80 freezer door open and the freezer alarming. I’m sure from her perspective it looked like I was a little off my rocker because I immediately started pointing and telling her to close the freezer! Quick! Now! I told her it was really important to keep the freezer closed because it’s remotely monitored and she would have facilities management jumping down her throat about a broken freezer in minutes.

“Well you should have told me I needed to shut the door”

Excuse me? It didn’t occur to you that if you leave the freezer door open the freezer might warm up? For real? And frankly this interaction makes me even more irritated by my bosses comment that she feels like she’s involved in nursery school research.

No more!

I’m done in the lab! Wahooo!

Emergencies here I come!  ….and no more of the “I need 300 slides cut by Tuesday” emergencies.

I interviewed my replacement on Friday before I left, she seems perfect, my boss had already left for the day so I left her a note saying I thought she was perfect.

In other news, remember my perfect desk?  I think I’m going to buy it for Christmas and talk my mom into giving me $ for it for Christmas. 🙂 Hubbin and I spent some time tonight discussing how we want to redecorate the study room. (I’m all about white furniture)

We’re done. Totally.

So the lab drama all started shortly after I decided I was leaving for the ED, and now I’m finally getting around to sharing it with you. I got paged to the OR to pick up a specimen and when I returned I walked into a meeting between my boss and my chinese co-worker (CCW) where she was going over with him which of my projects she wanted him to take over after I left. Since I walked in they asked me to join and started asking me a few questions about my procedures.

So these western blots I’ve been running over the course of the past 3.5 years are part of an absolutely enormous project about menopause and pelvic floor disorders my boss collects tissue from surgeries and we analyze it for different kinds of proteins. In order to make this work over the long term my boss has it set up to use cultured cells from a select one or two patients made in mass. We use the same exact amount from the same exact patient on every single gel we run so we can compare all of them with each other. CCW is in charge of cell culture in the lab so whenever I needed additional control samples he just handed them over.

When she started asking me about my controls I brought out my big binder where I keep all my records. I started pulling out the codes for my controls and my boss almost immediately started flipping out. I had just copied the codes my ccw gave me, I didn’t really know what they meant, but I learned that the codes meant that ccw, rather than giving me a control sample, was giving me whatever random tubes he didn’t need. Without regard to what patient they came from or what hormone treatment they had received. I was livid. My boss was livid. He ruined 3.5 years of data.

But what further infuriated both me and my boss was that he sat there and continued to make excuses. He tried to say “oh but those aren’t my cells they’re Cathy’s” (the woman I replaced 3.5 years ago). My boss said, well then you can just use her cells to finish the project” and then discovered that my coworker had let those cell lines die out and started his own. Which is a huge no-no in research as you’re required to keep everything you publish a paper on for at least 5 years after publication. “Not mine, they’re Cathy’s”… ugh. So then as this heated discussion went on he changed to “but I just gave her those cells for a pilot test” “just for a pilot test” “pilot test” and I finally busted out (with an extremely angry tone) “do you mean to tell me you honestly thought I was doing pilot tests for THREE AND A HALF YEARS?!” UGH. My boss wasn’t going for it either. She said “CCW, we don’t DO pilot tests here, we’re WAY past that”….

That was a Monday. I was so angry with him I couldn’t bring myself to speak to him the rest of the day or the next day. And I’ll admit, at first I felt a little guilty for being so angry. We had a great relationship for the past three years and I was leaving for good in like 2 weeks. Was I really going to spend the next two weeks angry with him and ruin our relationship.

Then the day after I came in in the morning to find this email in my inbox that he sent to my boss and CCd me on:

I am hesitating should I let you know or not, I frankly don’t want to cause anyone any trouble, but I am facing a big trouble of not being able to get good result from enzyme activity assay on tissues. Tuesday, I happened to see the Monday’s tissue specimens sitting in the 4C, I realized this is probably why I got very low collagenase activity from tissue of 50mg (the extraction buffer was confirmed to be of high salt). After 24 hours, most live enzymes in tissue should be gone. And today’s specimen is in 4C too after [SSFB] left. I am processing it now. I don’t know how many specimens were processed in such delayed manner, hopefully, not many.
I am not trying to upset you as we’ve been working together for years, but I don’t want to be blamed for bad activity data or failure in activity assay due to inappropriate tissue processing. I feel bad to have to let [Boss] know.

Oh I was livid. I wanted to take the specimen and throw it at him when he came in that morning. I decided then that yes our relationship truly was over. –So it’s a good thing that he already gave me his wife’s NCLEX practice CDs– I wanted to say, “oh well thank god superman-ccw will be completely responsible for everything in the lab two weeks from now to save it from disaster”. Because I don’t mind telling you that in the past two weeks my boss has voiced on more than one occasion that her biggest concern with me leaving is now he’s going to be in charge and she doesn’t trust him to be responsible for anything. Then I saw my boss had responded:

Thanks [CCW]. It is important to process the samples within 2 hours of receiving them. I am hopeful that the vast majority of samples are treated this way. At the same time, if they are chilled overnight, enzyme activity should still be preserved. Actually, I have mostly noticed specimens left at 4 degrees when [SSFB] is not around. I still think you should be getting enzyme activity – I have done zymography on these specimens and have been able to get an active enzyme. The saline is mostly bad for the biomechanics assays. Lets do this – specimens received during the day until 3 pm will be [SSFB] responsibility. Thereafter, [CCW] will be in charge. All specimens must be processed as soon as possible after receiving them. [CCW], I will need to see you dissect off the epithelium. When [SSFB] is gone, [CCW] will be in charge of all specimens – you will need to wear the beeper. Thanks.

…She added those last few sentences because the week before she called me in huge distress in the morning because no one had picked up the specimen the afternoon before and it was discarded by the OR. She asked me if I gave CCW the pager. I said I did, and I really wished she would have followed that up with “Well did you tell him to answer the pager”… because I would really have liked to reply “no, but he’s 39 years old and this is his 4th year working in the lab so I feel like I shouldn’t have to”… because honestly, if you’re the only person in a room, and a pager goes off, do you think you might be inclined to answer it? I would think so. Obviously CCW doesn’t.

Anyway, that morning my boss came in before CCW and we had a nice discussion before he arrived and our conversation pretty much went like this:

“so when did this big rivalry between you and ccw start” and I said “well I’ve barely been able to bring myself to talk to him since last Monday when I found out he didn’t think my westerns were important enough to warrant an actual control and he could just give me whatever tubes he didn’t need” and she said “I know, but clearly he’s on the attack with you right now so I was just wondering if something else I wasn’t aware of had happened” and I said “no, not that I’m aware of” and she said “Because I tried to answer his email in a very diplomatic fashion but to be honest I’ve only ever noticed specimens not processed when you’re not around and he’s correcting you for something I think I’ve only ever reprimanded him for” … so we chatted for a while and she said she’s really worried about him taking over this enormous menopause database that I’m in charge of and I guess he’s a reviewer for some grant application and sent her this email about how he spent ALL weekend working on it (which, you never want to bitch to Boss about how much time you’re spending on work) and he needed her to review it all before he sent it in and she said “which kind of defeats the purpose of him being an independent reviewer doesn’t it? I just don’t know what to do with him, he’s just so cocky and so incredibly below average… but if I fired him now I’d have no one in the lab…. of course I’d probably get a lot more of these papers written, haha”….

That day she sent ccw and the punk new kid (who is growing on me) an email telling them that I’m in charge and they have to listen to me. (maniacal laugh). That hasn’t worked very well, but it is kind of nice knowing that my boss is totally on my side and has my back. So that’s the official version of the drama between me and ccw. I’m still only talking to him when I absolutely have to, and my irritation level is at an all time high with him. Nearly everything he says to me makes me want to beat him. I won’t, cause I don’t roll like that. But I did really get the urge to throw a nice hunk of stinky monkey vagina at him today.


Welcome to November and NaBloPoMo, Sorry I haven’t done an official start to NaBloPoMo quite yet (not that it matters now since I blew it Saturday) but my life has been downright insane for the past week. In just the past 7 days:

  1. 3 big wrap-up projects my boss assigned (That I have as of yet to begin)
  2. Our IRB renewal that is apparently overdue that my boss only told me about on Monday (I was approximately 130 patient files behind in the database -good god- it took me 5 days of nonstop demographics entering to catch up. I even missed lunch break twice!)
  3. Then there is the rise in blood pressure anytime I’m within earshot of my coworker (I didn’t forget the story, it’s coming)
  4. Our lab is moving. MOVING. This week. We have to pack up our entire lab to be relocated. Figures this move would occur my very last week in the lab… so much for those three big wrap up projects, ehh?
  5. My big cardiac/respiratory test last Monday that I spent the ENTIRE weekend studying for. (I got a 90%)
  6. Tuesday night I had to do my ATI practice tests for Wednesday.
  7. Wednesday we had our mental health ATI and Pharm tests, I passed both and do not have to remediate thank goodness, because I just don’t think I could handle one more task right now
  8. My newish (July ’06) car has an oil leak that needs an appointment
  9. Hubbin can’t breathe so we missed Halloween in favor of an emergency allergist appointment. Which is fine because I forgot to buy candy anyway.
  10. Thursday night our clinical instructors kept us on the floor till 11:30p, THEN we had post-conference… I didn’t even get home until after midnight then still had to take a shower because I was covered in miscellaneous patient grossness.
  11. Saturday I spent the entire day at a free NCLEX review course hosted by the largest medical corporation in my area. I was completely bitter about being there but I have to admit it was way more useful than I expected it to be especially since I don’t intend to shell out any money for one of those big Kaplan courses or anything.
  12. And finally Sunday (yesterday) I forced Hubbin to attend his cousin’s 11th birthday party on his own because I feel like I have not be *at home* for more than a week, and I just desperately needed some “personal time”. I’m typing this while I’m taking a break from switching out my summer/winter clothes. Finally! brrr!
  13. Which speaking of “brr” Hubbin, the heat nazi, has decided that the furnace and vents are to blame for him suffocating so in a fit of experimentation he TURNED OFF OUR FURNACE! Then managed to sleep for 12 hours straight so has forbid me from turning it back on. We’re heating our house with just our gas log fireplace right now and have two furnace-people estimates next week. If there’s not a new furnace and clean vents in this house by next weekend I’m packing a bag and moving to my parents until this place warms up.
  14. I just sent my second email in my third attempt to contact the Emergency Department unit director so that hopefully SOMEONE will respond to me and tell me when I’m supposed to be starting now that my first official day is only a week away. I’ve finally decided: “That’s it, if no one tells me when to come I’m just not coming” I’ve sent him two emails (which he said is the best way to contact him) and left him one voicemail (5 days ago) and I’ve got NOTHING.
  15. Now I’ve got to rush to do all my med-surg paperwork because I’ve not touched it once and it’s ALL due in the next two weeks.

So those are my excuses for dropping out of the NaBloPoMo race only 3 days into it! I promise I still read all your blogs and I will continue to use the spirit of NaBloPoMo to post more often this month than last month… just bear with me 😉

And away we go!

…just not for a while.

So I managed to fess up to my boss yesterday. And she didn’t cry, and she didn’t throw a fit. So that’s good, no akwardness whatsoever (as opposed to my last boss who threw an adult-temper-tantrum and threatened me with bodily harm) I’ll be moving on in about 4 weeks, the date is not officially set yet because apparently my HR lady is not in the office today. Regardless, sometime before Thanksgiving I’ll be outta here. I’m pumped 🙂

I had a big meeting today with my Boss and Chinese-Co-Worker and set up a list of things she wants me to finish before I leave and what she wants him to take over. So this will be a busy few weeks I’m quite sure. –I’m totally going to lose NaBloPoMo this year 😦 —

Our mental health rotation is over (thank god) mental health is not for me. Last night the unit we were on was a totally creepy combination of nursing home/ mental institution. I got 100% on my MH paperwork and evaluation. The clinical instructor said she was just “completely floored” with how good all of my paperwork was since I’m always the quiet one. Does quiet = slow? Did I miss that memo? To my experience it’s usually the other way around. Seems like the nursing students that are always running their mouths in class are the ones with the least of value to say.

Additionally, I rocked the test on Monday with a 47/50 so I’m now solidly in the B range for the class. I much prefer B-range to F-range. This whole house-arrest-weekend prior to testing seems to be really working well 😉

Head Lice

So this has been sitting on my desk at work for quite a while now and I’ve been meaning to say something about it. This particular scientific company comes around frequently peddling their merchandise to me (cause I’m totally in charge around here) and I keep stumbling on this photo in their flyer. What’s up with this chick? I know she’s supposed to be demonstrating frustration, but everytime I look at it all I can think is HEAD LICE