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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I originally thought he was just a quirky/weird scientist but hes really freaking me out. Hes severely disorganized and imo tends to waste a lot of time. Hes sloppy, his office and lab are in shambles and I'm constantly trying to keep him and the lab organized. It takes us hours to get into work mode when together. Last Wednesday he screamed at me over the phone. It didnt have anything to do with me; he was stressed out (so I thought) and did apologize. He works two f/t jobs as a guest director for a laboratory in NYC and a prof/researcher at my university in MA, so I figured its no wonder that hes stressed as anyone would be. I blew it off and told him not to worry about it, tho now Im wondering if hes just nuts...his other phd student is convinced that he has some serious issues.

Last month I told him I would not be available to work with him this past weekend because I had a friend flying in from out of state but I offered to work extra hours during the week to make up for lost time. I bugged him all month about prepping ourselves for the coming weeks but he pretty much just got annoyed when ever I mentioned it. So, this weekend comes, he of course forgets that I wont be working and asks me to come in anyway. I drive up there with my friend and what do I do while there? Nothing. It was a total waste of time. Then, while hes in the lab, he breaks a piece of equipment that belongs to another prof and actually tries to blame me because I used it last week. Im very careful with all the equipment I use. I cant imagine breaking glass and not noticing it. I think he did it and is just insanely trying to blame me because hes afraid hes going to piss off this other prof because he uses stuff that belongs to this guy without permission all the time. The piece of equipment he broke belongs to my graduate advisor so this is not good for me and now Im stressed. Its looking like a whole lot of drama to me but maybe Im just making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Sorry for the long post.

Im thinking of either sitting down with him or writing an email to set up some well defined boundaries. Should I do so? I dont want to ruin what I have going on here because I need his letter of recommendation when I look for a job next year. Should I tell my graduate advisor that I think my boss is lying and full of it? Or should I just let it go? I fear that if I tell my advisor the truth (as I see it) that it might create even more drama and I dont want that. I don't know what to do tho I feel like running away lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessica Alana View Post

I'd ask your graduate advisor for advice. I'd explain everything that's been going on, and ask what he/she suggests you should do.
yea, i'm thinking of asking my other boss (i have two jobs at my uni...an RA and a TA) as he's pretty chill. My advisor tho, hmm, he's pretty wound up. I'm kind of put off by him as well. Bunch of freaks lol.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaya View Post

yea, i'm thinking of asking my other boss (i have two jobs at my uni...an RA and a TA) as he's pretty chill. My advisor tho, hmm, he's pretty wound up. I'm kind of put off by him as well. Bunch of freaks lol.
I'm convinced that's what happens when you stay in academia too long, you turn into a nutball. I think going to a non-involved party for advice is a good idea.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaya View Post

yea, i'm thinking of asking my other boss (i have two jobs at my uni...an RA and a TA) as he's pretty chill. My advisor tho, hmm, he's pretty wound up. I'm kind of put off by him as well. Bunch of freaks lol.
I'm convinced that's what happens when you stay in academia too long, you turn into a nutball. I think going to a non-involved party for advice is a good idea.
 

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That's tough. It's hard to be truthful while also maintaining the good relationship you need in order to get you to the next step in your career. It doesn't sound like he's a reasonable person and if you talk to him about these issues there's always the chance that he won't respond in a reasonable manner and it might make things worse. What's your advisor like? Is he/she someone you can speak to honestly and who won't blab to the professor? If so, it's worth talking to him/her and getting advice. If not, is there anyone else who you could talk to? Another professor perhaps? Also, I wonder how long you will have to work for this professor before moving on to bigger and better things. If your position is temporary, it might be worth it to just suck it up and suffer in the short term in order to insure a better future for yourself. If this is a situation you'll have to deal with for a year or more, though, it seems like you have to do something to save your sanity. Tough call. At the very least, you should be able to say no to him about working when you've already told him you'd be out of town. It sounds like he's just excercising his power over you. Creep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
BPS, yea, I have to agree. The world of academia and its actors are so strange.

eggplant, he is a creep and you are probably right about him excercising power over me. He says jump and expects me to say how high. Up until this semester I didn't have a problem with that because I worked f/t for him over the summer but now that I have classes, another job and (god forbid) a life, I don't have time to waste.

I don't know how he would respond. He's socially inept.

My advisor? eh, i don't know him all that well even tho we share a lab. He's passionate about his work, very serious etc but I get the feeling that he's not interested. I wonder if his feelings for my boss has an affect on how he views me (who knows).

I will be finished with my masters this june and I'm thinking that I wont bother matriculating into the phd program (which i was going to do p/t any way). There are more than enough schools in MA and while it might be more of pain to go somewhere else, I think I'm done with my uni.

I have tried speaking with (emailing really) my boss about my schedule demands but it doesn't seem to matter. I emailed him my schedule for the whole semester, down to the hour, but I don't think he bothered to even look at it.

Something else that is bizarre about him is that when I show a small amount of aggressiveness (like i did when he tried to blame me for breaking this ph indicator) he totally caves and acts so strange. He'll smile and try to joke around, basically kiss my behind and it makes me uncomfortable as all hell.
 

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Sounds like a typical variation of the many academics I've known or known of. The screaming at you is a bit extreme, but the lack of planning, not being able to see the big picture, or big ideas and no practical ability to implement them, disorganization, capriciousness, and power trips are pretty common. There are a lot of academics who are not like this, of course. These people work at least as many hours as doctors and lawyers, and although paid well, they aren't paid as well as doctors or lawyers. And tenure isn't what it used to be.

I wish I had words of advice for you, but I have yet to figure out how to deal with these types. Fortunately I don't work with any right now.

BTW- my mantra is I will try really hard not to be one of these when I get my PhD!
 

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It sounds like he is extremely insecure and really quite afraid.

My stepmother has a phD and she is a complete screaming loon.
 

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Wow. That' s rough Gaya.

I think the best thing to do is to talk with your other boss for a little advice on dealing with this type of situation. He may be able to give you some helpful hints. Unfortuatly, this kind of thing happens in academia and out in the corporate world as well (although I think it is more common in academia).

I would try to develop some coping mechanism to get through the year.

As you said standing up to him makes him cave, I would try to be assertive so you don't let his craziness take over every aspect of working in the lab.

Good luck!
 

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I wouldn't bother with third parties, and I certainly wouldn't send an email. Unless you have soemthing good to say, never send an email to someone... That's your number one rule of confrontation. I would sit down with him and tell him everything you've told us in a calm and sincere manner. Things like this will happen again in your life, and the more experience you have dealing with it, the better you'll be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great advice from everyone so thanks! Laura, yea you are correct. This has definately been an opportunity to exercise patience.

I spoke with my graduate advisor today and let him know that I did not break his indicator and he really wasn't worried about it. He also thanked me for taking the time to discuss it with him.

I haven't seen my boss since last weekend but I spoke with him on the phone today and he was acting strange, trying to be super cheerful, asked if I needed anything etc. I might mention something to him this weekend, I'll see. thanks again guys!
 

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by peers, i mean "graduate advisor" or another academic who doesn't necessarily know him, but could give you insight on how to manage him or approach him effectively.

but, it looks like you already did that anyway.


and you will be up against this in the future. my dad works in industry, and his boss is hot/cold in any given moment.
 

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Gaya, I'm sorry you have to put up with this. I can't really offer any useful advice but I can point you in this direction, in case you haven't already seen it. At the very least, it may give you a chuckle and help you realize you're not alone!
 
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