Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#144 In which our hero talks about getting fired (again).

Yesterday work was rush-rush-rush, but today I have all sorts of time on my hands. So I thought I’d write about something that I’ve been waiting to write about for some time: getting fired. Well, not so much getting fired, as being fired.

Being fired is a weird thing. I was trying to think up an analogy, and this came to mind: I once lived with a girlfriend for five years. When I finally pulled the plug, there was an extremely uncomfortable four days while I was still living there before I could move out and into my new apartment. About two days after the final shouting match/break up, I came home to discover that my (ex) girlfriend had changed the locks.

Being fired is like that. You can still come into the apartment, if you must, but it’s clear that you’re not wanted there. And while you are there, it’s very uncomfortable.

Having this feeling is relatively new to me. Before I landed my first real agency copywriting gig, I had voluntarily left every single job I ever had. Quitting was old hat, but being fired was all new.

I found it especially difficult the first time I was fired (i.e., “laid off.” I had an employer tell me once that I shouldn’t say I was “fired,” because being fired is very different from being laid off. And while I saw his point, it seems like bullshit semantics to me. At the end of the day you’re still lugging a big box of your crap down to your car and not coming back). Since this was my first real agency (previously I worked at an in-house agency, which isn’t the same thing at all) getting fired filled my head with all sorts of insecurities. Maybe I can’t really cut it in the advertising world! I made a big mistake leaving my support system behind and moving to Cleveland! The world has finally discovered I’m a fraud!

But more than that, I really liked my co-workers. I mean, not all of them, of course, I’m not Mother Teresa. But I did like my boss quite a lot, and I liked the president of our division. I even invited these guys to my wedding -- and they came! And the other writer and our graphic designer were great guys, too. I had hung out with them for drinks after work, and had been to my boss’s home several times for parties.

And that was the biggest kick in the teeth. After working with them for two years I though we were all friends. But we weren’t.

We were work friends. Emphasis on work. Once that common denominator was removed, we weren’t so much friends any longer. And that really sucked. I dropped a few emails, but didn’t get replies. I even kept them on my Christmas card list for a couple years… even though I was dropped from theirs right away. I wasn’t invited to any more parties.

Some of this was self-serving, of course. I wanted to remind them that I was still alive, in case a job did open up at the agency, or if they heard of one elsewhere. But I heard nothing from them, and after a while, I gave up trying.

In this regard, it was considerably easier to get fired from the next couple of places, since I didn’t really make friends with anyone. The one place was full of bitter and/or arrogant jackasses, so I wasn’t inclined to make friends with anyone anyway. And I was at the little Internet place for only two months, hardly enough to break the ice, let alone really become close.

In the case of the latter, some emails were exchanged, and invitations to “keep in touch!” were offered (and accepted). I kinda thought I would stay friendly with those folks. But, a short time later I found myself again employed in the area, and a couple of emails suggesting we all get together for lunch went unanswered.

But, I can’t really say I blame them. I mean, who wants to be reminded that their own job is in jeopardy, and could go away at any minute (like mine did)? Also, I’m a fairly bitter SOB when I get fired, so probably not the most fun to be around.

Oddly enough, I recently found myself on the opposite side of the equation (for once). The guy who got fired from my agency called me a couple of days after the fact. He wanted to know if I had any connections in the Cleveland advertising market (I don’t). I told him my experiences in the places I did work, and suggested other agencies I had heard good things about. He followed up with an email to thank me, and said to “keep in touch!” And for the first time, I started to really understand why people don’t.

First, it’s not like this guy and I are friends. We chatted some -- turns out we’re both comic book geeks -- but that was it. In the three months we worked together, we had maybe six conversations. But more to the point, I know what it’s like to be unemployed -- it sucks. And you have to use every resource at your disposal to land a new job.

And I don’t want to be a resource.

I don’t want to be a reference, or answer calls from a potential employers, or any of that shit. Part of it is that I’m lazy and can’t be bothered, but more importantly, if this guy really was a weak designer or slow or whatever, I don’t want to be associated with those traits. Because, who knows? I could be in front of that same employer in a month, and I don’t want anything to potentially soil that interview.

Plus, I’ve lived the unemployed life, and it is no kind of fun. And I don’t want to live that life again, even vicariously. Plus, in his email, he signed off with, “watch your back.” Being that I LOVE this agency, I’m more than a little turned off by anyone trashing it, even in such a mild manner.

So now I get it. I don’t want to hang with a disgruntled former employee any more than my former co-workers wanted to hang with me.

Once you’re gone, you are gone.


Blogger Aarika said...

It's very strange - the workplace friends situation. I had a similar issue come up when I was going to a community college and I made excellent buddies that I would chat with for hours...whom I proceeded to instantly lose contact with the instant that I was out of that place. I don't know how that works. I guess some friends are restricted to certain times and places. Tsk.

2:00 AM


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