Friday, May 27, 2005

Fired!

Fired, sacked, canned, pink slipped, shown the door, given your walking papers, terminated, dismissed, iced, let go...


What ever euphemisms for being fired you like to use, the actual experience pretty well sucks.  


After I dropped out of college (and my parents finally found out about it), my home life became more and more intolerable. I had to find a real job and FAST so that I could move out into a place of my own.  


Working as an office temp is great, if you want loads of flexibility. If you don't like a particular assignment, ask for a new one. If you want to take some time off, just turn down the next couple of assignments and relax. But when you are suddenly counting on the regular arrival of your next paycheck and you find yourself without any medical or dental health benefits, a full time job is really the only way to go.  


I began scanning the want ads and going on interviews in earnest. One idea that appealed to me was securing a civilian clerical job at the local military base. My application was accepted and I was put through some rigorous testing to determine what my "level" should be.  


In the military, it's all about your "rank"...and on the civilian side, your level would determine the kinds of jobs you could request and the range of salary you received. I passed my testing with flying colors and was told I could apply for GS-11 level jobs (at the time, I think this was the highest entry level you could be without a college degree and it wasn't common to be offered a starting level that high).  


Unfortunately, back in the 80s this level's salary range started somewhere well below what I was earning as a temp. I was completely ignorant about what it would mean to be a civilian working for the military.I had no idea what I was passing up...job security, excellent health benefits, the ability to transfer any where in the country or world - and if you perform your duties well, you don't stay at the bottom of the salary range for long.  


I often wonder where I would have ended up and what my life would be like today if I had taken that job with the Air Force. But no. I turned it down and continued looking.  



I ended up taking a secretarial job in Marlboro with a company called TRW Medical Systems. Yes! That TRW - the folks that do the credit reports (or they used to, before they were bought out). Medical Systems was a subsidiary company that leased medical equipment to hospitals and clinics. Weird business for a credit company to be involved with, eh?  


Fresh from my almost career with the military, I wowed the hiring manager with my dazzling array of acronyms and promises to have his operation running BY THE BOOK...which I was going to create. The book of SOPs...that's Standard Operating Procedures to you lay folk. They hired me in the hopes that I would create a manual for the clerical staff that defined all the procedures to be followed in the day to day business of being a regional office manager.  


My first week with the company I was sent on my first business trip...training at their headquarters in a suburb outside of Chicago. I learned what it was like to travel, as a woman, alone in the big city. Some creepy old dude in the hotel bar tried to get me back to his room. I still get chills down my spine thinking about it.  


Another cool thing about working for this company was the location of the office I would work out of. They were right next door to the SmartFood plant. You don't know what Smartfood is? They were this little independent snack food company that made this amazing white cheddar popcorn...the smell out in the parking lot was...ok, I'm getting off topic. (Smartfood was bought out by Frito-Lay at some point, I just discovered. How sad.)  


Well, after my training I got down to business. I dutifully documented every process and procedure in the office, typed it up and put it into a binder. In my very large binder, I had about 5 pages of very concise, step by step instructions. That was it. I was done and there was nothing else to document about this VERY boring and unchallenging job.


Apparently no one had informed the boss (the regional manager I was working for) just how no-brainer his office manager position was. Or maybe I missed something. He was less than impressed with my SOP manual.  


I would come in each day, play Leisure Suit Larry on the PC in my office, and about an hour before day's end, I would go through my 5 pages of "procedures" and then clock out for the day. I got all my work done...but I had WAY too much free time.  


I was unaware that someone had noticed my game playing and my inability to "look busy". The office receptionist had also applied for my job and had been passed over in favor of hiring me. I didn't know how big of a grudge she carried. She carried her grudge right into the regional manager's office and tattled on me.  


A week before Christmas, an hour before the office Christmas party, I was told to clean out my desk and depart immediately. My services were no longer required.  


Ouch.  


The look of triumph on the receptionist's face as I walked out the front door for thelast time was blatant. She got my job.  


Being fired SUCKS! I was angry, embarrassed and hurt. But you know what? The TIMING was the worst part! I missed the office Christmas party (which I was told was the stuff of legend) AND I had no money to buy Christmas presents with that year.  


That was the one and only time I've been fired in my working life. I don't recommend it.


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