You probably think digging for fossils is just about the least stressful job you could have. Think about it. You're digging and chipping away at some prehistoric rock, ear buds blaring your favorite tunes, while you block out the woes of the world. No bills, no dirty laundry overflowing the hamper, and no uncomfortable fallout from last week's nasty breakup. It's just you, the rock, and whatever prehistoric creature you're trying to dig up.
Believe it or not, you've still got some stress in your life. Somebody's paying you to dig and chip all day. You might be a full-time researcher, pulling down a salary from a private research firm or museum. Maybe you're an overpaid university professor who juggles his or her teaching load with the minimum amount of research required to keep your tenure. Either way, you're getting a nice little nest egg, and somebody's expecting results for it. Too bad you've been digging for weeks and have produced exactly...nothing.
Now let's say you've found some bones that basically serve as the “smoking gun” for one of your pet theories. You know your jaw-dropping findings will put you on the cover of all kinds of paleontological journals. But wait, what's this? You just opened an email stating your funding was pulled and sent to another project, conveniently directed by your leading funder's significant other. In other words, your project is broke.
Finally, assume you've been wildly successful and have racked up an impressive array of bones from some newly discovered fossilized beast. You've actually been able to more or less reconstruct the skeleton, which is like a hole-in-one in paleontological circles. Even better, the mucky-mucks have named this creature after you. You're in the history books. How much better could this get?
Don't know, but we can tell you it's about to get a whole lot worse. You're talking to yet another cable news channel, and you've brought a few bones into the studio with you. You're spouting off to the show's host, flailing your arms for dramatic effect, and suddenly your arm brushes your coffee mug and knocks it into...the irreplaceable prehistoric bones...which shatter on the floor. Your career is toast. What? It could happen.