Monday, October 23, 2017

What It's Like To Be Fired

I got fired for the first time in my life on Friday. Before I get into the details, let me tell you that I am not looking for any sympathy. It is a the very definition of a "shit happens" situation, and although I will not be having income coming in, I think it is very likely to work out for the best. Still, it's a bit of a surreal experience, and I think it's this taboo thing that people are embarrassed to talk about so I figure I would go into details, because I'm not the first, and I highly doubt I will be the last person to unexpectedly lose their job.

Longtime readers of the blog will know that I have been unemployed before, but this was because of my own stupid decisions of leaving full-time positions just because I'm a moron and don't really give a shit about money, but in all my time, I had never even been close to being fired based on my performance.

So I had been at my current position for a year and a half. That's a decent amount of time but certainly nothing that stands out. Well, at that organization, it was actually kind of incredible. We employed about 80-100 people, and I had the 15th most seniority before I was let go. I have never seen a place churn out people like this. They are constantly hiring, because if people are good, they move on, and they also are quick on the trigger to fire people because they do a fairly shitty job of training people, so unless you can teach yourself, you probably won't last long.

Now there's many other incredibly messed up things that happen at that organization, but maybe that's a blog for a later date as I just felt like a little background was needed before I really got into things.

So, it was around 4:00 on Friday (yes, they do the cliche thing of waiting until the end of the day on Friday, like Office Space), and I was just sitting at my desk, doing anything I could to pass the time, because I was way ahead on my work. My manager approached me and said the Managing Director wanted to see me in the office. I have never had a meeting with this man, because I have made it a mission to avoid him like the plague since he's just a miserable person. My manager seemed serious in her tone, but I manage events, and everyone agrees that my events always run the smoothest, because I am always incredibly prepared and it also helps that I have the most experience. So, going in, I was slightly concerned, but as I was walking over there, I was running through my head, "What could I have possibly fucked up?" and I came up with nothing.

This walk only took about 15 seconds, but it still gave me enough time to consider that maybe they just wanted to talk about my upcoming event, since it was kind of a big one, and maybe the Managing Director just wanted to be more involved. It certainly didn't seem like my time was about to end there.

I got in the office, and both of their faces were serious and they shut the door behind me. I knew that was a bad sign, but still, I was at like 50% that something bad was about to go down. I'm a logical person, and logically, there was literally no reason for me to lose my job. I will say that the one thing that I appreciated was that the Managing Director started off, "I hate to have this conversation, but we're going to be letting you go." That band-aid got ripped off quick. And even though I was not attached my job and often dreaded going into work, you still get that drop in your stomach where it's like, "Holy shit, how in the hell did I get fired?"

He then went on to explain that it had nothing to do with my performance as he appreciated all of my hard work, but they are doing less events next year, so they needed to downsize the department. So, they got rid of the guy with the most experience. Did I ask any questions? No, at that point, it wasn't going to change anything, and I really didn't give a shit about the why, the end result was all that mattered at this point. He kept talking, saying that my work was appreciated, and they'd be happy to give a reference, but at that point, my head was spinning, and I really just wanted to pack up and get out of there.

We said our goodbyes, and I went to pack up my desk which was literally just me grabbing my protein and granola bars as I did not have a single memento in my work space. My manager came by and said that she was told not to talk to me, which I guess is part of the dehumanizing experience of losing a job; you're no longer a person that can be talked to as you are now an unpredictable form that people must tread lightly around. She gave me more details about my severance, but even that I had to email about later to get more details as it was just a feeling of shock. Not happy, not sad, not angry, just trying to comprehend what the hell just happened.

In one of the funnier moments, she asked if I wanted her to tell everyone, and I'm like, "Well, I'm right here; I think I can handle it." I then had to announce, "Hey everyone, I, for real, just got fired." I had to put in "for real" because I have joked about being fired at least a dozen times, and that joke all of a sudden got a whole lot less funny. Everyone was in shock, but I left them to deal with the shock as I wanted to go home to see my pup dog.

After I got out of the office, I called my wife, she didn't answer, so then I texted her, "So heads  up, I just lost my job. Not a joke." Again, I had often joked about being fired. Again, the joke is not nearly as funny anymore. After that, I called up a temp agency that I had done work for when I first moved to the area, because my goal is to find something as soon as possible, so I scheduled an interview with them for Monday. Then my wife called back, and I gave her the update, but I let her know that my mind was racing, so I really didn't even know what to say. Even though I couldn't tell you anything she really said outside of that she loves me, having another person there makes it a whole ton easier. If I was on my own, I'd be way more freaked out about things, but just having someone else (especially someone more successful than me) makes this much easier to take.

Then I got home to play with Casey The Dog. We wrestled around a little bit, and I continued my post-firing plan and blasted out a half dozen messages on LinkedIn with people I know well who might be able to help me find something. I've already gotten a good amount of responses of people recommending things or telling me that they'll let me know if they hear about anything.

After that, Casey and I went on a walk, because I had all this pent up energy and couldn't sit still. At that point, I was able to kind of dissect the situation. I'm 90% sure I know why I got fired. When I started, I had a good amount of experience, so I negotiated a salary that was higher than everyone else's in my department, so due to my master negotiation skills, I was the obvious option to get rid of, because it would save the company the most money. There is a 10% chance that they just didn't like me, and since this is not a logical place to work, I definitely won't rule it out.

But honestly, it still doesn't matter why I got fired. I got fired; that's what matters. And I'm writing about it, because that's easier than talking about it. You feel like a failure, and you feel like a loser, and it is embarrassing, but shit happens. I survived a damn kidney stone, and that was a FAR MORE traumatic experience than getting fired was. I bounced back from that, and I'll bounce back from this. My overall review is that it sucks getting fired, but it's not the end of the world. I still have my wife, still have my pup dog, and most importantly, I still have no stones in my kidneys.

Yes, I got fired, but things are going to be fine, and I think there's a good chance that it works out for the best.

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