Saturday, May 1, 2010


I don't usually go to lab on Saturdays. Most of my labmates operate the same way - it's rare to come in on a weekend. In fact, the only students I know who DO come in regularly at off-peak research times are those who have living things to take care of - cells that would die without feeding, or rats to look after.

Last week I needed to do some measurements on some parts. I made the parts on a Thursday, and was going to measure them Friday. But the undergrad working in my lab wanted to learn how to take measurements - which is an admirable thing, shows initiative, all that good stuff. And the undergrad didn't have time on Friday. I was just going to say "oh well" because Monday was too late for the data I needed, but the undergrad suggested over the weekend. I am too used to scheduling with business students - I forgot that undergrads are still willing to sacrifice their weekends....

So last Saturday at 10am, I walked over to my office to check email before the undergrad came at 10:30 to work in lab with me.

And it was an absolute beehive of activity!

I thought, why in the world are all these people here? And then I took a closer look around the cubicles, and noticed that all the people there were people graduating soon - and since half of my office is graduating, there were lots of bodies at desks working on thesis writing.

Ah well, I thought, mystery solved. I am sure normal schedules will resume after the thesis deadline passes.

But now again, here I am in lab on a Saturday.

My labmate who runs the robot needs a long run of parts for data for her Master's thesis, due this May. We tried to do it on Thursday, but were foiled by a few issues we didn't forsee. We could have done the long run starting Friday at 4pm, but by about 3:30 yesterday my brain was tired and I hated the thought of spending three hours on a long run when I wasn't fresh. Mistakes happen when you are tired, you know.

So we agreed to do a long run the next day (today, Satuday) at 1pm.

This morning at 10am, I get a call on my cell phone that wakes me up. I don't recognize the number, so I don't answer. Ten minutes later, there's a knock at my door. I stumbled over in my bathrobe, and found that it was the undergrad who works in my lab, and she wanted my key to lab so she could work on her undergrad project. I handed it over and went back to bed.

At 11am my phone rings again, and my undergrad says she left the key with her classmate, who would be around all day except 12-1 for lunch, and gave me his cell number.

Okay, people, fine, I'm up.

At 12:30 I head to lab, expecting to have to track down the classmate with my key.

But as I was walking down the hallway, I spied an officemate just opening the door. Hold it open, I cried! Well wasn't that lucky, I thought, getting here at the same time as the only other person who's around.

But inside the office, I find AGAIN lots of people at their desks. And when I walk down to lab, there is my undergrad working busily away with her classmate (from whom I retrieve my key). And then my robot-running labmate shows up, and we begin experiments.

And then I run to the bathroom, and pass two or three more students I know in the hallways. And as we've been sitting here running experiments for the last couple hours, the lab space across the room has filled up with students working on THIER projects.

What gives? Why so many people here all of a sudden? Don't you all know it's SATURDAY?

It's particularly cruel today, because it's beautifully balmy and sunny outside - gorgeous weather.

So maybe it's just me? Maybe there have been people just conducting life as usual around campus every weekend, and I just assume that my lazy days are the norm? Ack! Say it isn't so!

I'm going to convince myself it's only because it's the end of the semester - between finishing theses, finishing class projects, preparing for conference trips, and wrapping up the semester's experiments, it's no wonder people need a few more hours outside the normal work week.

Right? Right.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, I can't remember the last time I WASN'T in lab on Saturday and Sunday (that I wasn't otherwise occupied with a research-related conference). I like the general lazy weekend attitude of your lab much more!