Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I might not be a doormat anymore, but boy, can I have a redo on this week?

The story - i've been working on an exciting SEA project with a friend - trying to organize a program for UH students to go out on the boat for a month to experience something they would never have the opportunity to do otherwise. The issue has always been that I need salary to be able to do it, and i've been given the royal run around by a friend of mine, that has been more than a little stressful. I was very up front about needing salary (6 months ago - when this all began), yet totally out of the blue, she put me in a really bad position several months ago, announcing one day (as I was working on the project) that they money she wanted wasn't coming in and I would have to "work for free". Not asking, mind you, just announcing, almost as an afterthought.

This left me stumped. As 100% research funded i'm used to being bled dry, people are always trying it on, I just didn't expect it from this avenue. So I was firm, and she kept saying she was trying, but it was becoming clear that salary was not forthcoming. While I was in Canada I finally nailed it down, and she said she wasn't pursing funding for me anymore, so I said I wasn't involved anymore - no hard feelings, that's just how it goes, you win some, you loose some, it's just important to cut bait before it becomes too much and you invest too much time in it.

But when I got back the pressure was back on for me to work on this, I was asked again last week to be a part of it (when all the student applications came in), yet again, though there was the hope of salary, there was no commitment being made. I swear i've lost years off my life in stress alone in this, as whenever i brought it up, a big deal would be made of it, blowing it out of proportion and myself made to feel guilty or like I was pushing for something the other (tenured - ie - funded) faculty weren't getting. I hate talking about needing money, it was so hard to bring it up 6 months ago when we started putting this project together, but I did, because I knew I couldn't do it without. We're talking about a 6 week project, with all the run up too that would be needed. I don't have 6 wks of salary period, let alone 6wks spare to use on an unfunded project!

Yesterday we had a meeting of the faculty involved and it became clear both from that meeting and from emails that it would be a while until we knew if I would have salary. But I can't wait for an answer - unfortunately I have an interview in Maine, a work visa renewal and an important conference all in the same time period that I should deal with if I am not going on this cruise, and so travel plans need to be made for those now (as in last week!). As much as I would love to do it, I can't keep that time period open just in case.

So finally today, I got a firm answer - she was not prepared to definitely allot salary to me at this time point. As sad as I am not to do it, I am relieved, I got to the point last night where I didn't care what the answer was, I just didn't want to be run around anymore. I think what got me was a comment one of the other faculty made yesterday that made me think that my friend had said to them before that she would make me do it for free. So i'm not sure where I went wrong, where did I give off this impression that I would be able to do this without salary?

So that's what i've been dealing with this last few weeks. I think what has really upset me is the avenue it came from. This is a friend (and still is) who i've lamented with often over other people doing just this to me, someone who has been very pro me standing up for myself against those people, someone who knows my financial and work position, so I just don't get it...?? I guess the lesson here is you have to be careful with everyone, even your friends, which just makes me sad, and even more determined than ever to be careful how I treat people. I feel good because I stood by what I needed to, I just don't feel good because it dragged on, makes me feel guilty and was just way more stressful than it ever should be (admittedly not from my own doing, but regardless...). I'm hoping we're still friends, I really can't harbor hard feelings, I just know where i stand with work things now.

So reasons I want a redo on this week -

1) the above
2) my -80C freezer (with many $K of samples in) went down this morning. Luckily all samples saved and squirreled away in various freezers around the building, but I won't know until tomorrow if the $10K freezer is toast. Ug.
3) Three migraines in 2 days! So not happy, but I have discovered ice helps, which is something positive.

I thought 32 was supposed to be my "lucky year".....so when is that going to start?? Hope you're all having a better one.


PleaseRecycle said...

Hugs!!! One thing I do NOT miss about academia is the whole money thing and the attitude that it's for the knowledge and the money is just a perk. I know I was a lowly grad student, but my PI definitely under the impression that I money didn't matter to me. He expected me to work on a project even after I quit (when Mollie was diagnosed)- with no offer of salary.

Finally, I sent him a very nice e mail estimating how much time I would need for the project and what my salary requirements were.... he said he couldn't pay me and I said, "That's fine. Please don't expect me to participate in the project, including an upcoming conference call." You know what, he called me for the conference anyway!! I didn't answer the phone and have had very little contact with him since. It sucks that I now have a horrible relationship with my thesis advisor, but you have to put your foot down sometimes!

Sorry for the long ramble... I also think gender has something to do with it in my case. If I were a man, I think I would have been treated differently.

RGW said...

Please do ramble - I definitely know it's not me, and it isn't the first and certainly won't be the last time! I feel like i've used up my quota of free at this point, I don't have any more to give, and until I get into a hard money position thats just how it's got to be!

Cherry B said...

So, so, so proud of you for standing up and not doing it unfunded and knowing what you need and not buckling. This will probably help your friend to learn that you aren't to be walked on, just wish it hadn't been such an arduous process. Keep your chin up :)

BSA said...

You are amazing! I too, am sending hugs (from NY). Rhian, no wonder you have migraines. It sounds like a tremendous amount of stress. The subject of friends--well that is another matter entirely. It remains amazing to me how much we keep growing and growing...

nicola@which name? said...

oh man, rhian. that just sucks big time. you are so nice. i have always worried someone would do this because you really are just that...one of the most genuinely kinds and generous people!
fingers crossed for you for the job in maine.
are the migraines stress?