Working in the lab could be repetitive if not for the collective efforts of fellow researchers. Every week someone in the lab makes the effort to do something frivolous, purely for entertainment.
Printout appears on noticeboards reminding giving helpful advice for researchers and lab visitors. I have a magnet that moves around this pictograph depending on how the week is going.
Inspirational quotes are also written on the whiteboard once a week by a diligent part-timer. Motivational stuff like “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” and sometimes truth: “a clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory”.
The drive of light-heartedness even creates highly sophisticated equipment with bullet-hole stickers on the sides and hilarious names for these instruments. We have the complete set of Thunderbirds characters for our instruments and we’re starting on a set of animated characters from Toy Story.
Oddly, justifications for new instruments such as “because if we just get a Buzz Lightyear we’ll have a complete set” don’t get much traction with the funding body.
While the general motivation is good-natured, there are tensions arising from such displays. Currently a silent battle rages in our lab played out by the Stop sign on the door to one lab. Sometimes it reads “Stop – Food-grade glassware only”, but more often it reads “Stop – in the name of love” and recently Stop – Hammer time.” This is likely to change again as the next wave of PhD students build the courage to add their version.
Little things like this make the lab more enjoyable. And reassures us that we are hilarious. Even if only other researchers think so.