I had to come to the lab this Saturday. This is not a rare thing if you are in this line of work. I have come to the lab full weekends, on New Year's Eve and on New Year. You sort of get used to the fact that your days won't all be 9-5 and your weeks are not of 5 days. But your family might never get used to it.
I am the first person in my family to A. Study Biology and B.Go onto Grad School. and by now I've heard it all. Maybe you have too, but just in case, let's revise ;)
1. How come you are working so late? Didn't you plan your experiment well enough?
Ah yes, the famous "lack of planing". Don't waste your time arguing about the fact that you did plan it properly, but something came up. In this case I've come to know that it is better to just say agree on how much it sucks that you are working late (it does suck) and how you wish you weren't.
2. How come you are going to the on the weekend (or holidays)?
You can try like I did to explain that you particular line of cells have a suicidal tendency and if you don't change the medium they will all die; or the fact that a certain thing must be added at a certain point (say growth factor every other day). Instead try the upbeat phrase: oh, is not so bad, it is only 15 min and my cells will be great for my experiment
*Note: just for the record, your cells might still die, so don't blame me if ever they are not oin perfect shape.
3. You've worked everyday of this week/month/etc, surely you boss would let you take some time off!
This is a dangerous one. First off, they are assuming that the only reason you've been working so much is because your boss is making you/is aware of the fact that you have been working so much. It is hard to explain to family that you might be doing this all by yourself and even harder to explain that sometimes your boss doesn't even know that you have been working weekends. Worst of, we go back to a point I made on the first post, is not because you work 1000 hours that you get good results, or any results for that matter. So, for this one,I recommend to just take a deep breath and try to the best of your capabilities to explain that no, as much as you would love some time off, right now is not possible :(
4. You say you sleep at the lab, but that's not exactly true, right?
Now, this has never happened to me, because my kinetics are usually short ones, so I sometimes spend 12h at the lab, but not more than that, but a lot of people around me have time points that make it not worth it to go home and then go back to the lab, so you spend the night. This one is not hard to explain, it is just hard to convince people that this actually happens and that sometimes is just unavoidable.
5. You didn't have lunch? How come you didn't have lunch?
Has it happened to you, that your day is so busy that either you don't have time to eat or you just simply forget? On a regular day this seems impossible, and to date my family finds it completely unbelievable when I say that I forgot. But honestly, when you are running all over the place trying not to forget one of your samples, it just slips your mind! I am afraid that I have no suggestions on how to approach this one, so if you have one, let me know.