Band of Trainee Brothers: The lazy & crazy

Jan 20 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

So yesterday some of the blogs here took a little bit of a tangent onto the topic of trainees being possibly lazy.  This made me flash back to all the kinds of lazy and crazy trainees that I have interacted with in the past or are interacting with presently.  So lets review this cast of characters:


No not the crazy Russian mystic, although I know a few PI’s who were old enough to mentor this guy.  No Rasputin was a new postdoc in my previous lab that drove us up the wall and to consider concealed weapons permits for our own protection.  Rasputin and I used to share a cell culture hood would get pissed at me for switching the vacuum and burner set up because you see he was left handed and I right handed.  He would yell and scream at me to just use my left hand, I refused on the grounds that my left hand literally acts like its drunk all the time and is sort of clumsy, and who the fuck was he to tell me what to do.  I was always polite and set everything back up for him in the way he liked but something made him become angry to the point of physically shaking if he saw me pipeting in media to a flask right handed.  Rasputin, on his first day of work, also made the demand for me to switch desks with him because mine was in a more secluded part of the lab.  He was ill prepared for me to tell him tough shit.  Needless to say our time spent in the lab was terse and full of explosions.  Shortly after I left, my boss shitcanned Rasputin and he went back home to his country of origin.

7th Day Adventist:

No, this person was lazy or crazy because of their religious beliefs; they just got the nickname because this trainee in the lab next door showed up once a week, usually on the day of lab meetings.  The PI in the lab next door suffered with this fool for almost two years before firing them.

The Ayatollah of Terrible RockinRollah:

Ok, not a true trainee but a medical resident on loan to us for a year for them to do research.  This guy used to blast terrible music in the lab all day and spent more time on his playlists than his project.  Worse was that he would put songs on repeat, and folks it was bad music.  You must be shitting me, I have to hear Barenaked Ladies “One Week” for the eighth time in a row?  While he was a nice guy, it was nice to see the cleric of poor music choices get transferred to another diocese.


This wasn’t so much a lazy trainee in the truest sense.  SF, a trainee in a lab on another floor, showed up to work and did what she was supposed to do but she didn’t put much thought or planning into experiments.  This resulted in her not ordering supplies need for experiments and we could catch SF in our supply room taking stuff from us as she was scrambling mid-experiment.  Several of us always caught SF taking bottles of media or PBS from us.  Apparently, SF’s lab manager commented to our lab manager that SF had not ordered cell culture media for her experiments in over a year.  No shit, she was taking ours.

Creepy McFunster:

If you were a gal and he met you, Creepy McFunster couldn’t tell us what shoes you had on or even what hair color you had.  Dude was focused on the area above the navel and below the neck.  He was a weird motherfucker, but the guy had boobdar.  He would be locked away in cell culture but as soon as a cute vendor rep crossed the threshold into his lab, Creepy was like a shark that smelled blood in the water.  And he was on it.  He skeeved out all the girls on the floor who had to use a vital piece of common equipment in his lab so much so, that they would get other folks, including me, to use the plate reader for them.  Don’t ever know what became of Creepy McFunster, but I’m sure his HR file is thick with complaints.


Sadly this was my nickname given to me by the night cleaning crew.  I used to do a lot of qPCR for my MS research and had the luxury of having two machines in my lab.  I was cranking out tons of data, doing multiple runs a day and even coming in at night to start runs.  If I was there at night, it was a given fact I would be drinking beer waiting to pop a plate in the machine or crunching data at my computer.  I used to leave a lot of beer cans in the trash, so much so, that the cleaning crew put an aluminum-recycling bin right outside the door to the lab.  Everyone thought it was weird, but I got the gist, they were tired of picking my cans out of the trash and putting them into recycling.  Where is Cans now?  I’m doing a PhD and am a bit more civilized these days.  But even my Shiite Pentecostal boss turned a blind eye to my poor behavior because I turned out data at a faster clip than any of his other trainees.

So do you folks have any characters you crossed paths with?

12 responses so far

  • Dang, did I screw that up? Bah.

  • UnlikelyGrad says:

    We had our own version of 'Cans' here at MyU (though he graduated recently)...he'd save up all of his beer cans in a drawer, though, and then do a run to the main recycling area. We actually have a recycling bin here in the lab, but I don't think he wanted DaBoss to know how how he made his lab time more enjoyable.

  • rknop says:

    "Cans" reminds me of somebody from the late lamented Boston office of Linden Lab. (Or, anyway, lots of the people from there are no longer with Linden.) It was a suite in a building that had lots of full-service perqs for the companies that had suites there, including various fridges and such stocked with soda.

    Eventually, the company brought a small fridge in and put it right next to the desk of one woman, and kept it filled with diet coke... the rate she was going through it in the communal fridge was approaching tragedy of the commons level.

  • antipodean says:

    That was some funny shit. Drinking beer in the hospital is frowned upon though. And as soon as I've had one any motivation to do anything even vaguely productive goes straight out the window.

  • Jade says:

    HA HA HA- Funny post!

    I worked with a lab technician that, when teaching a student a new method, would leave steps out of protocols so that no one else could get a technique to work but her, so that the boss would compliment her on how awesome she was. I figured it out quick and burst her little bubble.

    My ex worked in a lab where the other postdoc would lock reagents in freezers and was the only one with the combination to the locks and would not give anyone else the reagents. When they tried to order more reagents, they were told no because the PI said, "we just bought that".

    I knew a sales rep (from your favorite company, actually) who also had boobdar issues.

  • Dr 29 says:

    The Shiite Pentecostal boss still makes me laugh. It's 8pm and I'm at home. And you are awesome. Now bring me some BBQ wings, GR! Thanks 🙂

  • Geeka says:

    We had a guy in the dept who we called the Unibomber. He wore an Ernie t-shirt and tossle cap all year round. Actually brought the anarchist handbook to lab. Brilliant guy, but scary as hell.

    Evil Chinese Post-doc: Couldn't figure out why her buffers didn't work, used all of mine, refilled mine with her bad ones. How hard is it to make 100x TE?

    Clueless Tech: Despite having a degree in Biology, and working in a virology lab, she insisted that Abx helped the flu.

    Clueless didn't want to do a timecourse over weekend, so took an extra timepoint on friday and monday and averaged them to get the one for Saturday night!

  • ex-hedgehog freak says:

    What about the in-lab couples? We had a few of those. Man that was tough, trying to figure out when to duck

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