Following closely on the heels of Cristy’s article “How to Clean a Waterbath”, I’d like to take a moment to rant about a few other hated (and carefully avoided) lab tasks.  Here are my top ten LEAST favorite things to do in the lab:

  1. Cleaning out the vacuum trap – truly gag-worthy…you never know what your colleagues have been sucking up in there.
  2. Defrosting the -20°C freezer – it’s slow, it’s messy, and you’ll just have to do it all over again in a month or two.
  3. Defrosting the -80°C freezer – even worse, due to the possibility of accidentally freezing body parts to the inside of the freezer, or losing a finger to frostbite.
  4. Filling the liquid nitrogen tank – I always feel like I’m taking my life in my hands when I do this!  Something that is so dangerous shouldn’t slosh so much, you know?
  5. Updating the chemical inventory – this would be so much easier if you just updated it every time you ordered a chemical, but when has that ever happened?
  6. Annotating plasmid maps – carefully piecing together the sequence for the clone you just made sometimes seems like it takes even longer than making the clone itself!
  7. Making competent cells – the centrifugations, the aliquoting, stressing out over sterile technique…it doesn’t get any better than this!
  8. Aliquoting – competent cells, antibodies, dNTPs…just about anything, really.
  9. Making up 10M HCl or NaOH stocks for adjusting the pH of solutions – scary scary scary.
  10. Racking pipette tips – have you ever been in a lab cheap enough to buy loose pipette tips that need to be individually inserted into the tip boxes before autoclaving?  A sure-fire way to drive your summer student crazy.

What’s YOUR most hated lab task?