Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fired Like a Clay Pot

It was a strange week at work last week. A co-worker had gotten fired on Wednesday, and management hasn’t said anything more on the topic other than “She doesn’t work here anymore.”

The remaining employees are whispering to each other in the cubicles, speculating about what had happened to my colleague. I gather that the firing occurred at the very end of the day, when the rest of the staff had gone home. Her office is empty, and the feeling at my workplace is sad and strange.

It brought be back to the time I had been fired from a job. At the time that it had happened, 10 years ago, I was completely humiliated by the experience. I didn’t tell my friends I’d been fired. I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t tell anyone, yet here I am telling you on the Internet. It was a horrible experience that took me several years to fully get over. I had nightmares about it, and fantasized about what I would say if I had ever bumped into my former boss.

I was working for one of those “next big thing” dot coms back in the summer of 1999. They just secured a crapload of venture capital money, and were supposed to be all the rage. (They closed their doors a year after I’d been let go.)

I was called into a meeting where I sat across from the VP of my department and the guy from human resources. They told me to bugger off, and I stood up and numbly left the room. I went back to my desk to pack up my belongings. It was an open cubicle setting, so it was rather obvious that I was leaving. I held it together reasonably well, until a co-worker helped me take my things out to my car. (Which I appreciated so very much at the time because I wouldn’t have to make a second trip back to my desk. A humiliating second trip.) At that point I burst into tears in front of a woman I barely knew over a job I’d had for a month or two. She, obviously and understandably uncomfortable, wished me luck and hightailed it back into the office.

I always wondered how my firing was handled on the day after. Did they have a staff meeting to explain my absence? Did they send out an email? Did they take advantage of the space that once was my desk and put the photocopier there? Or an espresso machine?

The day after I was fired I had to go back to the office. I had a personal package Fedexed there, and of course it arrived the day after I’d been fired. I couldn’t stand to go back in there one more time, so I waited in the car while Todd went in to get the package for me.

It felt like it took him an awful long time. I sat behind the wheel, the window down because it was a hot summer day. One of my co-workers came out of the building, spotted me sitting in the car and came up to say hi. I didn’t work too closely with him, he was the VP of Business Motivation, or some other bullshit dot com era job title.

He leaned against my car and expressed his condolences to my boobs. I thanked his face for his concern; he told my boobs that they’d be sure to find another job soon. Pretend Me sat up straighter, lifted the front of her tank top and said, “Do you want me to just show them to you so we can settle the mystery?” Real Me warned, “Don’t even think about it, you’re gonna see this jerk again. It’s a small world, and you are looking for a job.”

Real Me won and I kept my shirt on. Real Me seethed about how this man’s 15 year old daughter was a summer intern in the office, yet there he was ogling some 25 year old in the parking lot. Real Me wishes she had the courage to lift her shirt that day and humiliate that guy as badly as he’d done to me.

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Blogger la isla d'lisa said...

Real Me kinda thinks Real You is frikken awesome!

September 1, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

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