A Little Dab of This & A Little Dash of That

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Perks of Being Fired

     A year ago today, I found out that my services would soon not be wanted or needed.  I was being "given the boot"; "getting the hatchet"; fired; terminated; ...let go.

     The company will remain nameless, as I do not wish to deprecate them; nor do I wish to advertise for them.

     It was my day off, and I went in for a planning meeting of an upcoming holiday.  I was then informed of another meeting with two of my supervisors.  Foolishly, I thought it might mean that I was getting the rest of my annual raise.  I got into my supervisor's car and was driven to another nearby locale; an upscale public hotel lobby to meet with the other.  I was then told that I had not developed the way they had hoped.  According to them, I had failed to demonstrate leadership.  I had not updated a checklist to their satisfaction.  In a nutshell, they told me, I was "just not a good fit".

     I was shocked to say the least.  And it hurt.  A lot.  It was (and is) a hot, quickly growing concept. I saw it as "The Cool Kids Club."  If I wasn't a "good fit", meant I wasn't cool.  No matter how old you are, that hurts.  For the record, I think that I was cool enough in high school.

     After this meeting, I understood the purpose of the site; it was safe and neutral.  I mused, just in case.  Of what?  Had to roll my eyes.  Who knows.   The supervisor who drove me there and back told me it was the hardest termination he ever had to do.  Really?!  I remember thinking, "is that supposed to make me feel better or worse?  Am I supposed to sympathize? Sorry to stress you out buddy, but imagine how I feel."  Of course, I didn't say any of that.  In fact I don't remember what I actually did say, but I know it wasn't much.

     I still jest over the fact that I was given 60 days notice.  Evidently what I did for the company that got me fired, they were willing to endure for 60 more days.  Because they cared about me and knew that I cared about the company.  They hoped I would be able to find a new position during that time. I worked 60 hours a week, always had the closing shift- (2pm till whenever; usually 2+am), 5 days a week.  I knew this was not likely. 

     For the next 60 days I was in a daze.  My goal was simple: To make it through with class, and not have a break down.   I shared my fate with coworkers as I felt the need.  I was told, "you are handling it so well," (HA!) "I would have walked out or thrown a fit!"  No you wouldn't.  Not if you were me.  Not if you were raised to not bite the hand that feeds you.  Not if you had a family counting on you.  I was even asked by the supervisors that did the deed, "What are you thinking? How are you feeling?" Pouring salt on a wound comes to mind.  Again, I didn't say much, as I don't believe in burning bridges.

     So, my 60 days came and went without a much ado.

     Now, for the perks.

     As with all changes of this sort- changes that occur based on something ending, whether it be with school, a job, or a relationship, there is a period of adjustment.  You find yourself with the time that you used to spend on whatever just ended.  You catch up on your sleep.  You have a break down of varying degree.  You have vivid imaginings that would not only burn those bridges, it would eviscerate them. Then you "clean house".   You get rid of all emails, papers, paraphernalia pertaining to the subject at hand.

     Then you set upon life anew.  You start all over again.  You can reinvent yourself.  More importantly, you rediscover yourself.

     The first sign that all was going to be good?  I was there when my eldest daughter took the training wheels off.  It was me that knew she'd "get it" if she rode first on the grass.  And I was there, less than an hour later when she rode down the street, training wheel free, wearing a huge proud smile.

     Know what else I discovered?  They were right,  I wasn't a good fit; more importantly they were not a good fit for me.  Not only were they not a good fit; they were not good for me. 
     I had not been gone more than 2 months when my husband told me that he was glad I was no longer with that company.  He told me I had smiled and laughed more in the past 2 months than I had the entire time I had been with the company.  I knew he was right.  While I worked for the company, I had often come home in tears, usually from fatigue.  I am now in my 40's, a parent, and no longer the night owl that I was in my 20's and early 30's.  Also, the main reason I had entered my former career was that it married my two loves of people and food.  During a hiatus of 7 years from the restaurant business,  I had changed; but so had the restaurant business.  Especially large corporate restaurants companies like this one.  During my last days there, I looked around at my coworkers; a lot of times I did not see smiles.  I knew it was going to be good to move on.

     Today, as with everywhere else, there is a lot more technology in the make up of the day to day business of the average restaurant.  One of the things I had to get used to was the James Bond like over the ear, round the collar, "hidden" radio contraption.  Courtesy of my husband, here's a pretty accurate depiction of how well I adapted to that gadget:

I don't want that many wires coming from me when I am dying; much less while I am living.  I know there are lots of jobs that use them and people adapt fine- hats off to them.

     "It's not personal, it's business," is a phrase I often heard.  Guess what?  I'm a person.  If you want my business, you'd better damn well make it personal.  The company is one that prides itself on caring about people, and open and honest communication.  Heads up: the companies that tout "open and honest communication"- that only works when it's coming from the top.  It gives them carte blanche to tell you what they think of you without any regard of your feelings.  Don't believe me?  Try it; but at your own peril.  Remember: these are the people that sign your paychecks.  Again, I am a person.  That pesky fact rears its head time and time again.  There's only so much "open and honest for your growth and development" one can take.  It's one thing to hear "constructive criticism" when you are starting out in your chosen field.  It is essentially helpful, and there is much to learn from it.  However after years learning, working and being successful, that "constructive criticism" often comes off as condescending and rude.  Especially if the helpful one hasn't bothered with learning finesse, tact, and manners. 

     So, the big perk is, I am no longer there.  If I'd had been honest with myself, I would have had to fess up that in fact, I wasn't happy; it wasn't a good fit- and I deserved better.  However, as no doubt others have found, the security of a paycheck and the time that you spend working, doesn't leave a whole lot of room to consider "should I be doing something else?" 

     It's now a year later, and I am doing fine.  I am still job hunting; and I am still looking for that good fit

     That company is of course very successful.  I have no doubt that it will continue to grow and prosper, breaking records here and there.   That's great, it should, and I am happy for them.  There's a lot of good people there.

     For me, I define success differently.   I want something special.   I want to work where it is about the people.  For me, life is too special and precious to hurry up and do it.  For me, systems are great, but they're not the essence.  Neither is it about cookie cutter consistency.

     So, till I find that good fit, I'll do as I do and take life as it comes.  I will enjoy as much and worry as little as I can.  I will spend time with my 5 year old before she starts school.  I will enjoy this short time where in my daughters' words: "I am the best."
Oh, and you know what else they tell me?

I am WAY cool!

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