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.