Monday, October 15, 2012

Diva Moment

I think we've all seen this in our colleagues. The initial request. The realization that the request is not fullfillable. The unreasonable stance demanding that the initial request be fullfilled, climaxing to a demand that the world rotate around the needs of one particular scientist (or three year old). We've all seen colleagues do this. We may have seen our children do this. It makes the lives of administrators and parents miserable.

Having said that, I am going through my own diva moment. At the time of writing this post, I've been at University F for about 6 weeks, and I'm still not set up. Which is impressive since I don't belong to a lab. Wireless in my office is poor, and the VPN server won't install on my laptop. I still can't get Skype to interface properly with my desktop. This makes it very hard to meet virtually with colleagues.

I still have at least one government form to track down. Instructions on how to do so are unclear. I have colleagues telling me that I can do so easily on line. I have HR telling me that I need to go to a government office 30 mins away and take a number. Yes, there is a form that I may be able to e-mail in somewhere. No, she will not translate it for me, since the government office knows what to do better than she does. Legally, she needs to withhold half my gross pay until I procure this piece of paper. Oh, and by they way could I go to another office to prove that I haven't committed any crimes in this country before they hired me (ignore the fact that I haven't lived here before they hired me).

Part of the reason I'm not set up is that I've been traveling a lot (and will continue to through November). But the point of transplanting me from my original country to a university much closer to where my potential collaborators are is for me to visit them and try to pollinate some papers. Part of the reason I'm not set up is that my department's IT support is dwindling to 0. Part of the reason I'm not set up is that this country is trying to streamline it's paperwork, but the project is delayed, so instead of automatically issuing paperwork like they used to and will do again, people now have to run to 3 different offices.

I am currently refusing to let paperwork eat more than one day a week of my work time here. This slows down my progress in the pile of administration I need to go through. On the other hand, I think the frustration of standing in lines, and filling out forms in a foreign language is worth more than the interest I will loose on the extra money being withheld. So I'll get to it when I can. If this bothers her, I'll be the diva and she can make life easy for me. If it doesn't, then we are both happier for it.

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