I see life as an adventure and I always try to take the best out of every situation. The post published just before (below this post) was written during a bad moment. I tried to humour it which means I was at least having a pretty good day.
We took the job in Prague because it was an offer for both me and Johan. We knew how difficult it can be to find a job, let alone two jobs in the same city. We took the job despite its low salary, never guessing it would be further decreased afterwards. We had met the boss a couple of times before in conferences. He seemed ok. After a week on the job I realised that the job was really not what I wanted. I thought I was hired for my technical skills but when I got there I was not allowed to touch "the buttons" I had touched daily for three years in my previous job. We felt we were expected to work a lot more hours than the regular eight stated in the contract. Truth is, we did more in eight hours than most our colleagues in ten. We were always under great pressure and being pushed and constantly asked to show results. That worked in the opposite direction. I have worked under pressure and it's ok when it's necessary, but it was hard to deal with when it was for no reason and applied on only the two of us. We started being less efficient. Others were less efficient and didn't get as much pressure, so... It didn't work but the deadlines started to be at least a bit more doable. We also learned how to say no. In time, we noticed other problems as well. There was no communication whatsoever. We never knew what was going on in the group. We could be performing an experiment that the boss had already done the week before, unsuccessfully. We would spend three weeks finding the same problems he had found before, but for some reason didn't tell us. We wasted a lot of time that way. There were no compliments (I got one once, in two years) but there was laughing at me when i made mistakes several times. We had a feeling he didn't like our work. On our last month he asked my replacement to pick my brains on this and that, because I did it really well. He had never said it to me directly. It would have helped my motivation. A lot.
I had already been doubting if this was the career I wanted and the two years at that job made it much much worse. The working ways represented quite exactly everything that is wrong with research these days. The objective of the group was not to advance in scientific knowledge but to increase the number of publications. That meant loads of publications, in average to low quality journals, without good enough results. As soon as any of us had put together 3 graphs we would be asked immediately to start writing an article. No matter how good or important the results were. A few days before our last day the boss asked us to be back two days after our contract ended, to help him look good to some visitors. We refused. The contract would be over. He had no clue of how we felt. He also expected us to finish papers in the following months, that had not been finished. The plan was to finish everything during my contract but he kept giving me new tasks and I ended up not having enough time. The day we said goodbye, the last time I saw him, he shook our hands and told us "so, after you move and when you are ready to work send me an email". Ready to work??? We are leaving and we are never ever going to work for you again! He REALLY didn't understand anything. We made it clear (again!) that our papers would be taken care by our replacements and we wouldn't be dealing with things anymore. A novelty in the scientific world, not working beyond your contract.
I was really unmotivated during those two years. I was so unhappy. I dragged myself to work every morning like if I was going to my own funeral. Sunday evenings were dreadful and I refuse to even attempt to remember going back from vacation. I was always tired. I blamed it on my running but I knew it was not. I had no energy to go out. I stopped having a social life. There was a lot of sadness and there were a lot of tears. Sometimes, I wonder if I even touched upon depression. I was glad me and Johan were in this together. We not only supported each other but we were also the proof that we were not crazy. It was real, we both felt the same way. We longed for the day we would leave. We left. The happiest day was actually the one that happened a year ago. The moment we told the boss we were leaving. The disappointment in his eyes was priceless. He did care about us, so why were we treated that way? Why was everybody in the group treated that way? I will never understand.
No one deserves to feel that way. I hope none of you does, and if you do something is wrong. It is not supposed to be this hard. Or at least I want to believe so. This was the last time I wrote about this. Looking back I know it took me months to recover. To let go of the hate and of the cloudiness in my chest, but it's all gone now. I won't even think about it anymore. It's behind me now.
Now, I will go out enjoy the sun, the day and life in general.