Thanks for Making it to Our Meeting. Oh Wait, You Didn’t.

Here I sit, 5:48pm on a Tuesday.  It’s exactly three hours and 48 minutes after I was supposed to have the weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss.  What have I been doing for the last four hours?  Let’s review.



My Schedule:

1:00pm. Work-up the reaction I set up this morning.

1:25pm.  Knowing our meeting is at 2pm, I hold off on purifying the reaction until after our meeting.  I could probably get it done by 2:15, but since you spent 10 minutes in group meeting lecturing us on the importance of showing up on time, I will wait.

1:30pm. Start preparing for our meeting- organize data from the last week, print key figures and make an outline for what I want to talk about.

1:55pm. Walk by PI’s office and notice the lights are on but they’re not around- probably just went to the restroom before our meeting.

2:00pm. Stop by the office again.  Automatic lights are now off, means they’ve been gone for over 30 minutes.  Maybe at a seminar, probably will be back soon.

2:05pm. Pop my head in, lights still off.

2:10pm. Lights still off.  I check my email to see if I missed a note that they needed to reschedule.

2:15pm. Lights off in office.  Ask around lab if anyone knows where the boss is.  Nobody has a clue.

2:20pm. Lights off in office.

2:30pm. Lights off in office.  I’m accomplishing nothing.

2:35pm. Lights off in office.

2:40pm. Lights off in office.  My blood pressure is rising.  Starting the meeting anytime from here on means my column gets pushed back at least an hour, which means I’m now staying an hour later on an already long day.

2:45pm. Light’s on!  Finally, let’s get this thing started.  I go back to my desk to grab my notebook.

2:46pm. Realize it was the assistant who tripped the automatic lights.  Boss still gone.  Blood pressure still rising.

3:00pm. Despite the group meeting scolding on the importance of meetings, I decide to set up my column and move forward with the day.

3:10pm. Boss comes by my desk and asks “We’re meeting today, right?” in an irritated voice.

3:10pm. I resist the urge to go ballistic – I’m loading a precious sample onto my column.

3:10pm. I look over and notice the boss has a new hairdo.  A hairdo that wasn’t there today at noon.

3:10pm. Blood pressure frighteningly high.  Can’t see straight.  Shaking uncontrollably.

3:25pm. Boss returns to my hood, “We’re meeting today, right?”  I reply, “I’ll stop by your office when I’m done running this column, probably 20 minutes if that works for you?”  “OK, see you in 20 minutes.”

3:45pm. Grab my notebook and head to boss’ office.  They’re in a meeting with another lab member.

3:50pm. Still meeting.

3:55pm. Still meeting.

3:58pm. See the lab member walk back into lab.  Grab my notebook and head to the boss’ office before they come back to my desk.

4:00pm. Boss is meeting with someone I don’t recognize.  I find out from the assistant that it’s an old colleague who was here giving a seminar in a different department.  The meeting has been on the boss’ calendar for a couple of weeks.  “Is my meeting on the calendar?” I ask.  “Has been for two years.”

4:05pm. Prepare to setup my next reaction.

4:25pm. Boss comes by my hood and sees me preparing to run a reaction, “I thought we were going to meet after your column.”  Head dangerously close to exploding.

4:30pm. Stop by office with notebook.  Lights on, boss not there.  I take a seat in the office and wait.

4:32pm. I notice a shopping bag in the corner.  Hmm, that wasn’t there this morning.

4:40pm. Boss returns and looks irritated, like I’ve been avoiding them.

5:30pm. Meeting ends.  Predictably, there is close to no value added by the boss other than telling me this project has to move faster.

5:48pm. It’s almost 6pm and I don’t want to be here until midnight, so hold off on setting up my reaction.  Had there been no meeting today, I would have run and worked-up another reaction.


I’m no human relations expert, but basic courtesy states that if there’s a meeting on your calendar, make it.  If you can’t make it, cancel it in advance and let the other parties know.  Simply not showing is not canceling the meeting.

If you miss a meeting, DON’T SHOW UP WITH A NEW HAIRDO AND A SHOPPING BAG!  At that point, you might as well take a dump in my hood.  It shows you value me and my time less than a haircut.  It’s personal.

And hey, a little self-awareness would be nice.  If your lab members are showing up three hours and 48 minutes “late” to a meeting, ask yourself why.  Maybe you could check your calendar to see who was really the late one before chewing out the lab.

Alas, you won’t read this, and the cycle will continue.  So I’ll just count on wasting an entire afternoon every week.  I’ll just “make it up” on Sunday, because I’m just a grad student, which apparently means I’ve got nothing better to do…



The Gloved Avenger is a full-time graduate student and part-time superhero looking to right the injustices facing fellow scientists today.  The Gloved Avenger writes under the cover of a nom de plume until the kinks are worked out of the invisibility cloak.



8 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. Guest

    wrote on July 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I had a P.I. who was FAMOUS for not showing up on time – 2-4 hours late for meetings was quite routine. Then, suddenly, there would be 2 or 3 group meetings that started on time – throwing us all off, who had become accustomed to tardiness for the last several months.

    Then I received a fortune cookie. It read:

    "Punctuality is the courtesy of kings"

    I enlarged it and taped it to my bench. He never got it, but the other lab members did and it helped with morale. So, a sort-of happy ending.

  2. [email protected]

    wrote on July 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Probably could have tattooed him with it and it wouldn't have made a difference. But improving lab morale is huge, so I'd call it a success…

  3. 13columns

    wrote on July 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    My PI would always show up late to group meetings- 20-30 minutes- and never give an excuse or apology. It was incredibly frustrating given *he* was the one who scheduled the meetings in the first place!

  4. Daniel

    wrote on August 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    You could paste a note on your PI's door, telling your PI, you were there earlier, asking you PI to inform you when he or she is back. Keeping silent state will not solve matter. Communication is important, without communication, suspicion arises, like you suspecting your PI of skipping your meeting for a hairdo and shopping, while she [I assumed from the hairdo and shopping] assumed you were trying to hide from her.

  5. Keep Your Sanity With a Smile | BenchFly Blog

    wrote on December 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    […] Thanks for Making it to Our Meeting- Oh Wait You Didn’t – how many times can one person be stood up for a meeting before they lose their mind? […]

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    wrote on December 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

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  7. Angry on East Coast

    wrote on January 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I came across this today and am laughing my head off! I am not running a critical reaction today because it takes all day, I cannot leave the lab once it starts, and I have my weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss. So, I put the reaction off until tomorrow. Well, I showed up on-time for our meeting, sat in his office for 15 minutes, then left a message with his secretary and left. She just called to reschedule and was annoyed that I couldn't make the times he has available, since I need to do this reaction and have several other meetings on Friday.

    I DO NOT GET IT. Management rushes me to get this project done, gives me an incredibly insane deadline, but yet then tells me I need to find time to travel to the West Coast (I am on East) for a meeting that I not be able to say a word in (even though I am the technical expert – not my boss). Right… so take me away from the project for a week when we are literally about to start formulation and process validation!! I need to be here to coordinate the team for that, I am the project leader and the technical expert on this project!!


  8. [email protected]

    wrote on January 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I feel your pain- your angry, angry pain… I always love when the boss has to reschedule a missed one-on-one for the next day or else. If it's so important they can't wait until next week, why wasn't it a priority in the first place? And if something came up, they could at least have the decency to let you know ahead of time. But wait, I forgot, it's your fault because you weren't flexible for the Friday reschedule…

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