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Fired From Almost Every Job

If I heard that someone was fired from almost every professional job they had, I would infer that there was something wrong with the person -- that they were rude, disruptive, incompetent and worse.

That isn't the case with me. I am highly intelligent and was very good at my jobs (as an editor), though of course not perfect (no one is). However, the reasons I was fired from jobs seems to have nothing to do with my job performance. Here are my stories:

I was fired from my first magazine job for reasons that remain somewhat murky. I worked very hard in a demanding and low-profile section, and because I had ambition and budding talent, I asked for more opportunities to write (I was the person who compiled and wrote the magazine's exhaustive entertainment listings). I was told instead to make the listings section "the best damn listings section in town." One day, without notice or warning, I was dismissed -- the reason given when I applied for unemployment benefits and they phoned the magazine while I sat there -- was that I had "omitted a major listing," an oversight that was by any measure quite minor (the specifics would take too long to go into, but take my word for it, they just wanted me out). After my firing, I was naive enough to agree to train my successor, who resented my presence so much she screamed at me: "GET OUT!!!" And so I did. I'm certain that nothing I did at that publication earned me that treatment.

I landed at a bigger magazine, where I was paid peanuts (while the men all earned tens of thousands more), but I loved the work. One night, the boss, an alcoholic, invited everyone to his birthday celebration at a local tavern. He and I had rarely spoken, but on this night he turned to me and said, drunkenly, "You look like someone who really likes a good [expletive]." I was quite shocked (I was 25, and had never heard of sexual harassment in the workplace). I went into the restroom, felt dizzy and passed out. Some co-workers took me home that night. Shortly afterward, my supervisor (and workplace friend) called me into his office and said, "Close the door." He mumbled something about typos I had overlooked or something, and that I had to go. I suspected the firing had something to do with the big boss's sexual indiscretions, but I couldn't prove it. I should add that I was VERY good at my job, and that the supervisor had called me his "right hand."

Years later, I learned from the supervisor that the big boss had taken him to an expensive restaurant and told him that I "had to go," and the reasons why (so his wife would not find out about his indiscretion). The supervisor claimed that he protested, but he did it anyway. (For some reason I remained friendly with the supervisor, but I still resent that he sacrificed me for his own ambitions). I didn't sue them, because at the time (in the early 1980s), no one talked about sexual harassment, and I was afraid of what they would say about me. I actually heard, years later, that the big boss spread rumors that I was an alcoholic and a drug addict (nothing could be further from the truth).

I thought I had gotten past the "firing curse," holding a job I liked very much for five years. I fought many battles of principle on this job, but the end came after a new boss was hired above me, and he took an intense dislike to me (after relying on me initially to do a lot of his work). I was told: "You don't seem happy with the direction things are going." So, for my "not seeming happy," I lost my livelihood, position, health insurance, colleagues and a lot of my self-esteem. Just after I was fired, I won a statewide award for work I did there.

Of course, there is more to this and every story, but this is my basic experience. Now I have no job and only a very limited freelance income. I've become averse to the whole area of "career" and "job hunting," because I feel that I'm in danger every time I sign on with a company. I feel that there are personal qualities for which I have been punished -- whether it is looking a certain way (sexy?) or being smart and independent-minded, or having the latter qualities while being female, since females are supposed to be submissive and supportive of everything men do.

 

miranda2060 miranda2060 46-50, F 8 Responses Jun 6, 2009

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I know this article is old, but I had to comment. I am currently going through what you have been through! It was so bad that I sat down with my boss and asked her if their was anything I could do to enhance my skills or performance. She turned to me and said that everything I did was excellent and she had never had such a promising employee. One of my co-workers became severely jealous of me. I could feel her staring as I walked by because I didn't do simple things like hang out with her after work or invite her to a party. I always felt like it was better to keep my personal and work life separate. Next thing I know, my boss calls me in her office and ask if I have a problem with my employee. I was completely caught off guard. They had a click and I was let go. It was so bad that I thought it was me, but I know it's not. People try to force their way into your lives and when you tell them they can't have it, they get rid of you. My problem is being noticed because of my great work ethic. Everywhere I go, people notice me and try to eliminate me. They have seniority, so they usually have a better connection with the boss. Sorry for the lengthy comment, but I hope thins are going better for you.

At least I'm glad that you are not being hard on yourself. I could tell that you do a great work of freelance writing due to the fact that this story was so well written. It's ashamed that women get treated so low these days. At least you gotten a reward out of it. Continue doing a great job and I wish you the best of luck.

Your story sounds like mine. All the years I worked, I was professional, worked hard, and everyone seemed to like me. I have 2 degrees, high IQ, am attractive, always wore professional clothes, etc etc etc. But I kept getting fired for ridiculous reasons, or no reason at all. It is still a mystery to me why this kept happening to me, when I always did well in school and won everything I ever tried my hand at.<br />
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It still eludes me, and I think about it all the time, going over in my head all the jobs I've had, and who could have been after me.<br />
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I do agree with you that maybe compliance is an issue, or butt-kissing men, or maybe I don't 'look up' to them enough. Don't know.<br />
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I know that most jobs don't last, even if you do them well, because business is always in a constant flux.<br />
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I have given up, and luckily I can be a stay-at-home-mom now.<br />
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I just don't think I could take another work situation-they were always so trying, especially at the end, when you know they are gunning for you.<br />
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Good luck-work for yourself, so you can avoid any more humiliation.

At least you made it five years in your last job. That's awesome! I think that if you can last longer than a couple years, you've "broken the curse" and figured out how to survive in the workplace.

At least you made it five years in your last job. That's awesome! I think that if you can last longer than a couple years, you've "broken the curse" and figured out how to survive in the workplace.

Good grief, office politics. How many of us have fallen victim to horrific workplace situations. When you are 25 its hard to rebound from a comment like your hideous boss made. Sounds like you've been harbouring that resentment for a while, and I don't blame you. Its so unfair. The as*es still think that way, often think twice as these days employees have legal recourse. I've been fired twice, and the 2nd time was horribly unfair - just a new boss wanting to make his mark in his new position, to show he's doing something. Sometimes I think companies might best get rid of some of the "wastes of groceries" that exist at the top of the corporate good chain...but they rarely fire their own! Interesting how its middle management and lower who get layed off, and never the big salaries at the top. Anyway - when I regain my equilibrium I hope that I can do some consulting. I just can't seem to recapture the passion I used to have for working in the corporate world , I'm so disillusioned.

Sounds like advice that you might benefit from. Best of luck.

I'm so sorry to hear of your experiences. They parallel my own and it is sad that anyone should have to go through this. When this happens it really drags your self-esteem through the drudges and even I don't know how to get things back on track. I suspect it has something to do with "the Secret" as in the law of attraction. But I haven't learned how to overcome it yet. Try work online - as a write (as am I) you can really work independently in many forums and be very successful. Your own business. No one fires the boss. Best Wishes and God Bless!!!