It has been a long, twisted week. For the first time in my life, after 11 years as a steady worker, I am being fired. I was laid off once, from my work as a Corporate Communications Coordinator at a large national travel agency, back in 2001. But that was after September 11th, when the industry as a whole took a dive, and I could not interpret being handed my walking papers as a personal slight.
This is different.
I have been an Administrative Assistant at a nonprofit human services coalition for a little over five months now. My title belies the true nature of my work, given that I am one staffer out of a grand total of two. My boss (who shall remain nameless) has the sole authority to recruit and retain, discretion awarded her by the Board. Though I have been told that my work is “exemplary” and The Boss has magnanimously offered to assist me with job placement, let’s be clear: I am being fired.
Though she leaves me in charge to go and avail herself of mani/pedi services, I am being fired. Though she takes off for a two week African safari tomorrow morning, leaving me to man the entire organization – the needs of all 600 of our coalition partners and 18 board members – I am being released.
But there’s an upside: I have eight weeks left on the job, time enough for The Boss to hire my replacement and allow me the honor of training him or her. In return I can take advantage of her “network,” to find something else, and my reward for sitting patiently as I watch my livelihood slip away is that I’ll be able to collect unemployment.
Because I am not being fired for performance. I am being fired due to my own gullibility.
There was a board meeting this past Monday and The Boss asked me to share my frustration with the overwhelming workload we confront each day. I did so, and because I am a passionate person, I do not do so limply. I offered that I felt burnt out and wouldn’t be able to keep a “long career” going without some direction and a setting of priorities. I knew as soon as the words left my mouth and I looked over at The Boss that she was pissed. She hates when people go off script. I was told to discuss the crushing workload, but not the way that it makes me feel.
So the next day The Boss called me into a conference room to start spinning. It turns out that she has “been able to see that [my] heart is more with writing than administrative work and [she feels I] cannot be happy in my current job because [my] passion, and best talents and skills will always be underutilized here.”
It was a long, painful conversation. In the end, The Boss felt it best that we do a mutually beneficial “transition.” I guess that’s what we’re calling termination these days.
Initially, I was very upset, not to mention angry. I am good at what I do and The Boss is nuts to think she’ll find anybody better than me. She actually agreed with that. I am not being fired for performance, instead because I am not “happy enough.”
So off she goes to Africa, leaving me with my jaw on the floor. How does she know I won’t just up and leave during that time? Because I won’t. She is acquainted with my integrity and seems to have no problem taking advantage of that even as she prepares to send me out into a cold job market.
I wish I were leaving out some details that would make all of this more comprehensible, but I am not. It’s very new, and in many ways unsettling, but perhaps in the long run it is for the best. How long could I work for someone so crazy and arbitrary? Still can’t help feeling like a loser though. Fired after 5 months, and at that for being too unhappy.
Ain’t that a bitch?