Friday, February 20, 2009

Changes in Attitude

Have you ever had a responsibility that you initially thought was cool or impressive only to later view it as a burden? One aspect of my current job is that often I am on-call for 24 hours a day for months at a time. When I was a young, hot-shot postdoctoral researcher, I used to take a certain pride in having to carry around 2 or 3 pagers and a portable phone. Along with these items attached to my belt, I also usually had my own cell phone, a knife, and a tool called a "leather man" (the tool the professionals use). My running joke was that I was trying to put together the full bat-utility belt ensemble. I would never admit this at the time, but I revelled in the attention all of this hardware brought me. Hey, look how important I am. Look how indispensible I have become. Now these same pagers and cell phones are like a huge weight strapped around my waist. I can never relax when I have these devices with me. I am afraid to start cooking dinner, to go to the movies, to do the normal things one does in life, as these danged things could go off at any moment. I think, if I am so darned important and powerful, how come I couldn't get someone else to carry these things? I notice that the uber-senior folks at my lab are rarely seen with a pager or cell phone. Somehow they have figured out how to side step this annoying responsibility. Not me. The hardware attached to my belt serves no longer to build me up, but only to bring me (and my pants) down.