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Last Post 10/22/2008 9:05 AM by  Kris Sigsbee
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10/22/2008 5:18 AM

    Kelli (Fx) 5th grade

    In your career, what would you consider to have been the worst day on the job, like somethng that didn't go right, or not finding the right informtion? thanks...

    Isabel Hawkins

    New Member

    New Member

    10/22/2008 8:47 AM

    Dear Kelli,

    This is a question that comes at a timely point in my career, since I am retiring from the University of California this November 13! So I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my time as an astronomer. I have to say, I have loved my job very much, and I can't think of a truly horrible day. Even at times when things were not going well, because of so many pressures or funding issues, etc. I have always been able to find the joy of being with colleagues and friends that I truly appreciate and love. So, my recommendation to young people is to pursue careers that truly inspire you, and that nourish your spirit! Surround yourself with wonderful people you can trust, and people you enjoy being with and working with. And, very important: insist on a work place that gives you access to the outdoors, and a window! Sunshine will be the most precious to you.

    Isabel Hawkins

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/22/2008 9:05 AM

    Hi Kelli,

    Oh dear! I've had lots of bad days when things haven't gone right at all. Any time something like that happens, it feels like it is the most horrible day of your life, until the next time when something even worse happens! A couple of incidents stand out in my mind as being my "worst day ever!"

    Once, I had a bad experience giving a talk at a large conference. I had been working so hard to get ready during the week before the conference, that I didn't get enough sleep and ended up getting an extremely bad cold. When I got to the conference, I was so worn out that I could barely walk from the hotel to the conference center. My talk was scheduled near the beginning of the conference, but it was the very last talk of that day, just before dinner time. I spent most of that day sleeping in my hotel room just so my voice would be strong enough to give my talk. I managed to get through my talk without losing my voice completely, but then things went horribly wrong. When the session chair asked if there were any questions about my talk, an older scientist who I did not know shouted out that he did not agree with my results at all - using some rather impolite language that I will not repeat here! I tried to respond in a courteous, professional manner, but a huge argument got started between this scientist, one of his supporters, and a couple of other members of the audience who were defending me. The session chair looked like he couldn't believe that this was happening during his session. I was pretty shocked too, but I was a bit feverish and feeling extremely woozy from the cough syrup I had taken earlier, so all I could do was stand there with my mouth hanging open in surprise. After what seemed like the longest 5 minutes of my life, the session chair regained his composure and managed to take back control of the situation, so that everyone could leave for dinner (and I could go back to bed).

    Ugh. I've had other very bad days besides that one, like the day my students almost electrocuted me during a lab (ouch!), the time I accidentally broke an important piece of equipment (fortunately, we were able to fix it), or the time when the airline lost my crate of scientific instruments (we found them the next day). I'd rather not go into all the details of those incidents here! The funny thing is, no matter how bad your problems seem, there is almost always another scientist who can tell you about the time when something even worse happened to them. I think that sometimes we learn more from our mistakes and the bad days than we do from the times when everything goes according to plan. The hard times are what keeps life interesting.

    In spite of all of these things that have gone wrong, I really do love my job! ;-)

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