“You’re Fired” Stories

After the post “You’re Gone” appeared, I began to get email from people who wanted to tell their own getting fired story. Seemed like a good idea to let people tell their stories. Now, WordPress makes you put in your name, so you might want to not mention the name of the company (if you care), but here are the simple rules:

1. Keep it to about 100 words–no more than 10 lines of copy in a Comment space.
2. Don’t type it in Microsoft Word first. Word is loaded with code and it will bloat the Comments section, and limit the number of posts. Type directly into the Comment section or write it as an email, then cut and paste.
3. You can be funny, sad, angry, poignant or amazing–getting fired is a personal experience and that can change over time. You can also write about being let go, stars in the sky

laid off, RIF’d, anything that separated you from your job.

Why do this? Because there are a million horrible, weird, head-shaking, forehead slapping stories about getting fired, and it will be great to read them all.

A week from today, June 2, I’ll hold a drawing for a pack of my sympathy cards. That’s the illustration over on the left. The cover says: The stars are always in the sky, but they are visible only in the dark of night.

I’ll start: The new boss was a perky woman 30 years younger than I. At her first staff meeting, she said her promotion proved our young company wanted young leadership. The five older people at the table, VPs all, suddenly heard the countdown of our numbered days.

My next evaluation was pointed: ” You are different and seem to enjoy it”
It was not a compliment. “Would it be better if I were devastated?” I asked. She nodded. “Different doesn’t work; there is no ‘I’ in team.”
“But there is a ‘me’ in team,” I volunteered.
Poof! One less VP at the company.
I’m grateful; I opened my own business and will live longer.

Now, let’s hear YOUR story.

Added June 13: Becki and Barb, you are the winners of the pack of cards! Thanks for playing along.

4 thoughts on ““You’re Fired” Stories

  1. The first time I got fired was in college – I was working for the men’s basketball team as a work-study job. I thought I was doing pretty well, though I definitely enjoyed the part of the job where I was helping out on the court with the team much more than the office tasks (including signing hundreds of recruitment letters with the coach’s name – imagine an 18 year old girl signing the name of a 30-something man!).

    The details are hazy now on exactly how the actual firing transpired, but I remember it was my second year on the job, just as the basketball season was about to get underway (aka, the fun part). What I do remember is the office manager telling me basically that I had a snotty attitude about the office work and treated her and the other administrative assistant with less respect than the coaches and players. I was shocked – did my boredom really show that much? Was I really treating my coworkers poorly?

    In retrospect, and having now watched others of that age in jobs they clearly don’t enjoy, I probably did come across as a bratty college girl with a bit of an attitude. I didn’t intentionally treat the office staff like second-class citizens, but that was how it came across apparently.

    From this experience, I learned to consciously treat my coworkers with respect regardless of their position, and to at least put on a cheerful face regardless of the task.

  2. I was working in a nursing home in a very poor section of town. It was next to impossible to hire therapists, but I reluctantly agreed to go in at 50%. I had 2 children at the time, ages 2 and 6 mos. I had a sitter, but she had to contend with client’s sick kids, her sick kids, etc. Finding reliable sitting was impossible. I finally hired a sitter on T-W-F schedule after searching for months. Her only openings were T-W-F so I thought I was really in luck. The next week my boss told me I had to work different days because she didn’t want to work Mondays. I complained about the misery of finding a new sitter to a friendly co-worker who quickly told my Boss. Next day I was offered a cigarette (I don’t smoke) and told to come to the smoking room (full of smoking staff.) “Sorry about the smoke, she says. “It’s hard to staff this dept, but you complained about ME, so I need to fire” Shocked, I stammered, “But there won’t be any therapists to man the nursing home.” Boss replied. “No, no one’s available. Guess that’s tough luck. But there won’t be any therapists who complain about me, either.” I gave up and stayed home with my kids until they were in school. No money; no complaints, either.

  3. Not exactly fired, but I was a manager at a startup company in 2001, one level below the real decision-making level. We were getting pretty close to bringing our new product to market and things were looking good. One Thursday we had a managers’ meeting and heard the good news that we had closed on our final round of financing and now had enough cash to pay for production and advertising.

    Early the next Monday there was a round of emergency meetings, hushed tones, worried looks, and worse. That “closing” had just been a verbal agreement, and the venture capitalists had changed their minds. Even worse, it turned out the executive team hadn’t kept any money in reserve. By noon the building was empty and we were all headed home to explain to our families about being unemployed, about no severance, and about no continuation of benefits.

    It was a bad time to be unemployed in high-tech in the northeast, and I’m just now realizing how much it changed me to be unemployed for two years, even though it wasn’t quite the same as being fired. When I finally got back to work at 50% of what I used to make I was astonished to see how little confidence I had left. At how much I had found to be afraid of. At how little I cared about many things I had thought were important. And at how little I found myself looking forward to anything any more.

    It’s taken even longer to begin to build some understanding out of that whole multiyear odyssey (although maybe it was more of an iliad, particularly if I think of myself as, oh, I dunno, Hector? 🙂

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