Three and a half years. That's how long it's been since I could legitimately claim to be doing bench science. Of course I've done the odd experiment here or there in my own lab, but my trips to the lab for work are rare. And some things you begin to forget a bit.
Just a couple weeks ago I was talking with a person in the lab about how great it would be to have These Data for an upcoming proposal. We talked about how to get These Data and off they went. Weeks have passed and as I started writing yesterday I thought "I wish I had These Data, I wonder want happened with them" and so I found the person work on the data to inquire.
It turns out that to get These Data they had to track down Those Data and write a program to wrangle Them Data and the initial analyses with All Data didn't make sense, so they had to be troubleshot with Some Dudes. Some Dudes found a bug and had to overhaul That System, which meant These Data needed to be collected in a slightly different way. They were and we are now close to having These Data, but they are not ready just yet.
No problem, that is how these things go. But when I first realized that These Data weren't available yet I recall being slightly annoyed about it. I mean afterall, we talked about is a couple weeks ago!
And herein lies the trap of the not-in-the-lab PI. It's easy to forget that everything takes longer than you expect when it comes to lab work, especially if it is collaborative and you sometimes have to rely on other people. There's always something, in addition to random attacks by lab gremlins, and it likely has nothing to do with the dedication or work ethic of the person tasked with collecting These Data.
It's good to remind myself of this from time to time, along with all the various set backs I experienced during my tenure as Bench Scientist.