Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Canned, 1984

Rewind 24 years: I was 21 years old. I'd just quit my job to go back to school, and suddenly found myself separated from my husband. Moving back, temporarily, into my old bedroom in my parent's house...I needed a job.

I landed one at a KwikCopy on Campus, but for some reason, with trepidation on the manager's part. I hadn't worked with the public much, she told me, "and we don't think you're going to work out."

Hey, how much experience could I have had by then? I'd waited on the public for 3 years, and then worked in a printing factory for 2 more after that; I had absolutely no doubts that I would wow them. It wasn't rocket science, for heaven's sake; it was a copy machine and binding tool.

I arrived to work early, on the first day, as one does on their first day of work yes? The girl in charge showed me where to stand.

And without another word, she opened the doors for business. She then exasperatedly snapped at me to get people's orders! ring them up! answer the phone! transfer calls to other satellite stores! This, of course, with no tour of the cash register, and no explanation of which line which went to which satellite store. Furious, she was furious! Eeeeeeeeeee!!!

The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was ordered to take a passport photo. In the corner stood a large black camera with an actual drape over it, that I was to step into to take the photo. Having no direction here either, she was again furious that I didn't know how to run the camera, barking orders at me from across the room and flying into a rage when I finally pulled about 4 feet of film right out of the camera, exposing all of it, ending up with a huge mess and a frustrated customer in a hurry to get on her way. Talk about a Lucille Ball episode!

At noon, she said "I was told you'd never work out, and they were right!"

I was fired. 4 hours after I was hired.

I was, at the time, young and shy, and in light of the state of my marriage, too insecure about my ability to do anything right. Stunned, stressed, demoralized, I hit the sunny sidewalk and wept all the way back to my car, and all the way home, where, to top it off, I had to tell my dad I was canned.

That which doesn't kill us, eh? I'm a *lot* older now, and a *little bit* wiser, and know that hell would freeze over before I bothered to shed a tear over the two dingbats that set me up on that dreadful day. I laugh now, and shake my head.

So tell me: Have you ever been fired? Give us the dirt!


  1. So far, never fired. I loved reading your account. Luckily, everywhere I've worked has put great emphasis on new hire training.

    Of course, I don't think I'd even consider myself fired in that situation. After four hours, I'd barely even consider myself hired.

  2. After I'd worked for a law firm of corporate litigators for about thee months I was given the job of client billing. I went to the office manager and asked how disbursements should be handled, and I had questions about special billing rates for some of the attorneys, and wasn't sure how to bill attempted telephone calls, and I asked how outstanding balances were to appear on the pre-bills because I never did billing before and I wanted to get everything right, and I was told "JUST DO IT!" I worked there for almost 15 years, but the "JUST DO IT" office manager got fired four years after I started. Surprisingly none of the clerical staff cried when she left. :o)

  3. CB: They never paid me for that 4 hours, either; wonder what it's worth, with interest? This may be my jackpot....

    AZ: I'll never understand people that think they're doing their company a service by treating people with such disrespect. Wonder where she is now...or not.

  4. I worked for a mortgage firm and I had to run a switch board and had to transfer each caller that called about a listing or something to an new agent every time. While writing down who went where in addition to helping customers that were walking up. I was 19 years old and I just moved out of the house to prove to my parents that I didn't need their money and to live with my boyfriend and do what I wanted when I wanted.
    I couldn't handle the job and all I wanted to do was talk to my friends and gossip. I was fired and I started to cry.

    Boy was I so stupid. To go back in time, I think I would still be living with my parents. But I was too proud to let them know they were right.

  5. stfarmer8:16 AM

    I've never been fired but I've been layed-off, called back, layed-off, called back... repeat ad nauseam. That was my rubber testing job.

    Eventually I pursued another career that wasn't so tied to the fluctuations of the economy.

  6. A few years ago I would have been ashamed to admit this but now I am not at all. My boss was doing some really unethical things and his boss was more than a hundred miles away, so he dismissed it. Basically, it was him or me, and I was more dispensable. Amazingly several years later this man still has his job, even though every person I know that has worked for him complains about the same things that I did. But his boss is still 100 miles away and doesn't care. At least you only wasted four hours there!

  7. I've never been fired. Although, I once quit a job (back when I was still married) because the partners were misogynists and racist. Later, I was informed by friends at the office that the boss refused to even interview anyone with a hyphenated last name again because "it will only cause trouble." So, I think had I stayed on there, eventually the ax would have fallen.

  8. I once worked at used books/comic book store. The former Baptist preacher-turned-devil worshiper/Wiccan fired me because, "the Karma wasn't right." He then attempted to frame me for stealing $5000 from the store. I worked there all of three months. If I'd taken every cent that came through there, I'd been several thousand short of 5. He was successful in scaring me enough to have my father pay him off.

    Turns out, in fact, that the Karma was right. He's now serving two life sentences in prison for double murder.


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