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how to lose a job in four days

Posted on 17 Jan 13 by in free fringes | 22 comments


Creative and detail-focused professional with a history of creating and delivering high-impact communication materials that drive key programs and activities for a diverse range of companies. Instrumental in developing and maintaining high standards throughout corporate and marketing collateral, while ensuring that messaging and branding are clear, consistent, and support organizational and departmental objectives. Respected for ability to create harmonious team environments that value collaboration while moving contributors toward established goals.

That’s the career summary lifted from my current resume. I read it over and laughed this morning while answering a request from a recruiter looking for a proposal writer. I shook my head, especially,  at this sentence:

Respected for ability to create harmonious team environments that value collaboration while moving contributors toward established goals.

Yeah, it’s professional resume-speak. Everyone makes herself look great on her resume, right? But that sentence was added by my resume writer after she collected letters of recommendation and interviewed me for days about my 20-year marketing communication career. With 7.8% American unemployment and 14-15% Black American and over-40 American unemployment, I needed a professional who knew what the market was looking for as my search for a full-time employer dragged until I became one of the long-term unemployed. What’s the unemployment rate for the long-term unemployed? Nearly 20 percent. Maybe double that if we’re throwing in the underemployed. Kicking and screaming, I answered every single question my resume writer asked (whew, the details) and she made me look awesome on paper.

Because I am awesome in person.

Yes, yes, yes, future employers, I have my faults. I am not a morning person, so let’s laugh together at your 7am-4pm workday. I’m grumpy until 10:30am, but I brighten at the sight of a single serving Keurig in the break room. I will adapt to your culture—talking less or talking more, understanding the chain of command—if given more than four days to learn how things work.

One thing I will never do is perform any type of fraudulent activity or any activity that could be misunderstood as fraudulent activity. It’s very hard to go into detail of how I lost the job at the pediatric dentistry practice I’d been so excited about for weeks. The gist: I was accused of allowing an outside IT person to access their computers. Not true. I did ask one of their vendors—their domain host—to help me verify with Google that I had access to the domain so I could use my work email address to set up Google Docs on my work PC. Why? Because the database was maintained in Word, I didn’t have Excel and I’d heard the dentist was cheap and wouldn’t purchase the tools I needed to do my job. Google Docs was free, but Google needed proof I was authorized to use my assigned email address to sign up.

A few misinterpretations of the phone conversation (eavesdropped, btw) with the hosting vendor guy later, I was fired. Oh wait, what? I didn’t allow anybody remote access, if that’s why you’re firing me. I worked with the vendor to help me verify with Google I worked here.

“But you allowed an outside person to access our patient files.”

No, I did not. I explained or tried to explain that. My job was saved.

Until the next day I was told I was hard to train because a mailer I’d sent was missing the title of the mailer on the outside and I’d used tape to seal about eight (out of 150) of the mailers because I’d run out of those sticky circle things. Oh, and I kept talking on my cell phone (missed a call from a kid’s school, did not return it even though it’s possible not probable one of my kids was dead, but rules are rules).

Hard to train. Feel we need to protect our staff from your unfriendly personality. The goddamned stickers were in the wrong place on the mailer and you used tape on 5.3% of them, making us look unprofessional.

They fired me for that. Even though their previous marketing database had been created in Word and maintained in 3-ring binders, I was fired for that. Four days into a brand new job. I’ve had bowel movements lasting longer.

The complication is I’ve been collecting unemployment from two legitimate layoffs. So I had to call Texas Workforce and ask if this firing can affect my current benefits. The short answer: maybe.  Texas Workforce Commission will have to do a full investigation into the Google Docs/unfriendly personality/misplaced stickers fiasco and, if the dental practice asserts I was fired for cause, I’ll lose my benefits earned from years of working and paying into the system. Yes, I can appeal, but guess what? No payments will be issued during the appeals process.

So even though I should be laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, these uneducated, paranoid dickheads can actually affect my family budget in a very bad way. Future employer: if you are fair and ethical, I would never ever call you a paranoid uneducated dickhead in a public forum.

Paranoid dickishness in comments…



  1. Wow, it’s like Dilbert on acid. Clearly they didn’t deserve you! And for the record: I never notice if junk mail is sealed with tape or sticky circles. You’ve been framed.

    • Imagine explaining the sticky circles thing to the Texas Workforce rep over the phone. I’m reading him my dismissal letter so he can forward it to the investigator: “used tape instead of sticky circle things on eight pieces of junk mail.”

      I feel humiliated and stupid for being so excited about it in the first place.

  2. What the f’ing f. I was agape at the silliness of the whole thing until the last two paragraphs. Now I’m just angry all over again. As in, PEACHSMASH angry. I’m sorry this is happening. You need *anything*, say the word. xox

    • A sugar daddy too old for sex would be awesome.

  3. Oh no, that sucks! I’m so very sorry. What a horrible place – 4 days is not enough time to judge performance in any job! They have word but not excel? It’s a Microsoft Office package – how is that possible? Too cheap to spend $100 on software? For a business? Sticky circles, really? Who cares? Whew, how exhausting. After that, they should be nice and allow you to get your benefits. I hope they can at least manage to do right by you in that regard.

    • They were convinced I’d hacked their system, but went with the circle sticker thing as their primary reason for dismissal. Because which is more egregious, right?

      • The sticker circle thing can’t possibly hold water, especially if they did not directly tell you beforehand that tape was forbidden – that was just you being creative in the face of adversity. The hacking, I’d think they’d have to prove and that would be difficult if you weren’t doing it. I hope you got the name of that hosting vendor guy. I’m so disappointed that anyone would treat an employee this way, especially one that really could have helped them get their act together.

        • They will never know what they had, and they will always be convinced they were in the right. Their loss, and hopefully, I can find a new position working for someone who will value my contributions without feeling threatened in any way.

  4. You forgot to mention the part where they offered to pirate some software because licenses exist and stuff instead of legally obtaining completely free and practically awesome software like you did. These people were assholes and afraid of intellect.

    • I can be legitimately fired for many things, but firing me for being too “we can’t put our finger on it” is fairly asshole-y.

      • Maybe it’s a combination of putting a finger on something and it being an asshole? Oh wait, no. This isn’t that website. Excuse me…

  5. If you don’t think it was a nefarious firing, for your sanity, I’d suggest going with the paranoia of technology and not understanding what was going on. Is there any way you feel comfortable enough to approach them (perhaps in a well-reasoned letter) with an affirmation that your morals do not allow for hacking or access to patient files? Messing with your benefits is uncool, to say the least, especially after just four days of work.

    And don’t ever, ever feel stupid for being excited about an opportunity. That capacity for joy and hope is what makes us human and emotional and empathetic. Then again, feeling stupid is pretty human too. It’s how I feel after my website fiasco. Hmmmm….maybe I should hire someone to handle all that for me. ;)

    • There were too many signs I ignored and that’s why I feel dumb. I’m just going to move past it once the benefits snafu gets cleared up.

  6. Dammit, dammit, dammit. I’m so sorry. They really have *no idea* what a gem you are. They were lucky to have you. xoxoxo

    • I don’t know how much of a gem I am (thank you!) but it’s kind of dumb of them not to have kept me around until they found out what I do know. But they think they already know it, I guess.

    • It was crazy. All I could do was walk out after gathering my stuff.

  7. Wow. Just . . . wow.

    I think Tex hit the nail on the head.

    • Wow. I told you stuff happened!

  8. Oh, wow… Just… wow…

    I’m so sorry I missed this, but I’ve had my head up my butt dealing with jaw-dropping craziness in my house, too.

    I hope this doesn’t mess with your benefits and many, many hugs.

    • It’s already delayed my being able to file for my currently approved payments by one week. It’s a mess.

  9. I’m super late to reading your recent posts. I have nothing constructive or helpful to say except that I’m really, really sorry that happened. Just wanted you to know I was here, thinking good thoughts for you and hoping you’re doing OK.


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