Why I Was Fired
A co-worker, once a friend, began slacking off. I felt she wasn't doing the job she was paid to do. I also suspected she was falsifying her time sheets. She was often unavailable and didn't answer her pager or cell phone. I caught the backlash, often performing tasks assigned to her. The situation continued for about a year. Then a minor incident flared into a major confrontation. She emailed the boss a lengthy rant against me, and he referred the matter to HR. I had gotten a warning 6 months earlier for flipping off someone who was blocking my car. This time, I felt I would be fired, so I quit.
What Being Fired Has Been Like
For more than a decade, my job was my life. When it was gone, I experienced an ongoing emptiness, a sense of betrayal, intense feelings of anger and hurt. I couldn't eat or sleep, and lost 10 pounds the first week after I left.
Although I wasn't fired, I believed I would have been. A difficult family situation had affected my job performance for some time. My boss received many complaints about my bad attitude. I got counseling, but it didn't begin to touch the stress I was under.
For months afterward, I was plagued with "office dreams", where my former boss called and begged me to come back, saying they couldn't get along without me.
My friends and family thought I was stupid for quitting before finding out if I was fired. They thought I had not committed a fireable offense and felt the worst-case scenario would have been probation. They didn't know about the flipping-off episode, or all the complaints about me.
I got a job in a telemarketing call center, the sort of place that hires anyone. I knew I wouldn't last long, since there was a weekly quota to be met, but it helped me begin to move on.
I missed my old job terribly, and wished I had handled things differently. I should have documented the incidents with my co-worker. I should have insisted on receiving a copy of her email to the boss. He only said she had "made some very serious accusations" against me. I shouldn't have allowed my emotions to rule.
- Don't form personal friendships with co-workers.
- Trust your instincts. I should have started looking for another job when all this started, instead of hoping it would blow over.
- Document all run-ins with co-workers. List date, time, what happened, witnesses. Don't assume an apology from you will smooth things over.
- If you feel your co-worker is doing something illegal, like falsifying timesheets, talk to your boss. Don't try and deal with it yourself.
- Get counseling specifically for anger management and allow it to help you.