Children are selfish. They can't help it. They have not developed a sense of their place in the world. They also have not developed their moral reasoning to a level that would be acceptable in an adult. But somewhere in between the small child and the adult who is fully participating in society is a massive grey area. Many of the people you know probably fall in that grey area. They can't help it either. They just have some more growing up to do.
I don't presume to say that I myself have fully developed into an uber-adult; I don't always make choices based on what would serve the greater good. I can be selfish, too. And sometimes I don't even realize until it's too late. However, I sometimes find it annoying that many of the people I interact with on a daily basis are, being ten years younger, ten years behind me in this area of development. I will call these people semi-adults:
- They complain openly about having to do their share of the grunt work required to keep the lab running smoothly instead of doing their REAL work.
- They also complain openly when the grunt work doesn't get done. But they don't ever think of lifting a finger and just doing it, because they are TOO BUSY.
- They say they don't have time to talk science (or anything else) unless they think you have information that might be useful to them (or they happen to feel like it). Of course, if you do (or they do), they have no problem whatsoever distracting YOU from whatever you are pipetting to try and get that information from you (or get that ego rub they can't do without).
- Whatever anyone else is doing cannot possibly be as important as the semi-adult's WORK. Which is, by the way, much cooler than anything anyone else is doing.
- When they are doing work on a multi-person, multi-paper project, they don't want to do things that will not eventually end up in the THEIR paper (the one on which they anticipate being a first author). Never mind if that holds up publication of another paper on which they will be a contributing author.
- They make a big deal about how they can't POSSIBLY go to that talk everyone else is leaving for because they have so much to do.
- Whatever challenges anyone else faces cannot be NEARLY as difficult as what the semi-adult has to overcome.
Hey, semi-adults - I know you can't help it. You're only in your early- to mid-twenties, and you have only just entered the adult world. But seriously, just stop it already and grow the fuck up! Everyone is working hard here. You don't have to act like a sanctimonious prick and screw everyone who has the misfortune of working with you in the process. As a public service, I am willing to spend some of MY precious time to set you straight. Every chance I get.
- Make sure you are not overlooked when lab chores are assigned, even if you were too busy to make it to the meeting on time.
- Remind you of your job if you forget to do it, since you are juggling so much these days.
- Make sure I don't leave you out of the loop when discussing science or lab doings.
- Mention, from time to time, that I, too, am doing research for my thesis. And yes, it's a pretty cool project that I am sometimes excited about.
- Let you know how important the not-so-sexy stuff you need to get done is.
- Not stop inviting you to go along with me to talks that might be interesting.
- Occasionally invite you to take your head out of your ass and look around.