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You Can’t Fire Me! I… Oh, You Can?

Welp, as I mentioned in passing in an earlier post, this was an interesting day for me. See, for my other website, I spent all Thursday having to compile a massive list of people who got fired by a big radio company, some of them people I know, all of them suddenly out of work just in time for the holidays.

Somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, I got appointed Official Necrographer of the Radio Industry, the only reporter on duty when the axes fell across the country. My email inbox was flooded all day, and other reporters from big newspapers were coming to me for the latest bad news. Needless to say, it was not the cheeriest of days.

But it got me thinking about getting fired, and the times I was let go from jobs, and how, sometimes, it all works out in the end. But it usually just sucks for a while. And when someone you know gets fired, there’s nothing much you can say. “Hang in there?” What the hell does THAT mean? “You’ll find something soon?” How do you know? “You’ll be better off?” Really? Tell that to the credit card companies; maybe they’ll accept that in lieu of the minimum payment.

No, it sucks to be fired. And even when it does lead to better things — and it often does, and it did for me many years ago — the day it happens is, quite clearly, a low point, for the fired and for the people around them, and, as I can attest today, for the poor reporter schmuck who has to sit there all day writing about it. It. Is. No. Fun.

Which brings us to this, and apologies to Annabelle Gurwitch, who did a book about this a few years ago: What are your getting-fired stories? Did you get canned in an interesting, retrospectively funny, or particularly cold-hearted way? Is it better to get fired after the holidays, before the holidays, ON the holiday, or does it matter? Let’s offer some group therapy for people who’ve lost their jobs. Maybe it’ll help to let them know that it gets better. Or maybe it’ll just help you to unburden your bitterness. Hell, I sometimes run into one particular guy who fired me many years ago, and I’ve learned to get over it. A little. Anyway, if you have any good vocational terminational stories, share them with the class….

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  1. Chris says:

    I’d been tech writing for a big utility for two years. My manager (who did not know me, never spoke to me, and had very little idea what I actually did) informed me that my last day would be on Friday, because the company (a Fortune 500) was making budget cuts, so all contractors were being released. It was Thursday. My direct supervisor was out of state on a plant surveillance. I had to tell him. He didn’t even know, and I’m pretty sure my manager waited until he was out of town to let me go.

    That was two months ago. My wife is a freelance writer, and her business picked up the week after I was laid off, so that’s definitely helped. Likewise, I’ve had a few job offers, and I’ve got an interview today for doing IT work for a regional retailer. I’m hopeful, and I’ll likely start work at the start of the year.

    That doesn’t help, of course, the dismal winter and holiday season. This is the third November/December where I’ve had to scramble. Ah well.

  2. UrthDervish says:

    I used to work for a website for business travel/meeting planner types. By August of 2001, they had downsized from about 200 people to about 40, but that was it, we were no longer hemorrhaging. I was the only copywriter left on staff.
    Then, September 11.
    A month later it was clear business travel was in the crapper, and they let more people go, including the only person who could do my job: me. My supervisor, who had to fire me, was let go a week after.
    I spent the worst winter on my life farming items in EverQuest. In the spring, I got the best job of my life, where I still work today. Also, we had a baby!

  3. I got fired once in April 2003, just a scant two months before my five-year benefits package (401k, health insurance, more vacation time) would have kicked in. The official reason for my dismissal was pretty flimsy: I violated the company’s Internet policy. At the beginning of the year, the company “saved money” by firing everyone on the human resources staff, and replaced them with byzantine written contracts that everyone was required to sign. I used the Internet for “personal” reasons, so I got canned. This, while my unit supervisor was spending three hours a day on the Internet, planning her wedding.

    Anyway, I wasn’t too bummed about it. I realized much later that I was pretty much robbing the company blind: coming in late every other day, two-hour lunch breaks, quitting by 5 on Fridays even when I was scheduled to work until 6:30. I probably should have been kicked out long before I was. 🙂

  4. Lauren says:

    I worked for a publishing company for almost a year when I finally got to talk to my boss. I’d probably talked to him 4 times in that past year before finding out I was getting canned. It was my first job in NYC and on my subway route home with my pathetic little bag of stuff I managed to grab from my desk I thought “this is it. NYC is throwing me up and I’m going to live in my parents basement and never see the light of day again.” I look over on the train and see another girl bawling her eyes out with a large paddle brush stuck mid-stroke in her hair. Like, suspended by a tangle of shame and regret that was her hair. I lost it and started laughing hysterically. Like almost peed in my skirt laughing. Then I realized if I was ever going to lose a job it should be the one that caused me to dump 3 great guys because I had to “focus on my work” and caused me horrible TMJ problems (cue the blow job jokes). Now I have a more awesome job, love my coworkers, and a super sexy nightguard for that pesky jaw problem. I only hope the girl with the paddle brush got her stuff untangled too.

  5. StuartB says:

    Coincidentally, I just got let go from my job this past Monday. Took Tuesday off, tried to find motivation on Wednesday, yet today is the first day I’ve worked on my resume and cover letters. Have maybe a dozen potential job applications sitting in a firefox folder that I need to submit something to tomorrow.

    Ironically, I was thinking just last weekend…”how can I get a job or opportunity to write something for Nerdist?” Guess a comment it shall be!

  6. KN says:

    The company that fired all those people today is the company I work for. What is relevant about that is that almost 4 years ago, (4 years ago on inauguration day) that company fired me. Im sure Perry remembers the day, it was a big one in radio. However they couldn’t fire me that day actually I was out of the state and couldn’t be in the office. They had to bring me in the next day. I remember walking into the office of a manager who was clearly hungover trying to forget the previous day and being informed that my entire department had been downsized. I was out of work for 3 months until they called me back to a better position more money and a chance to be on the air. I turned that into a great job and am very happy. Days like this are always hard to watch having been a part of one. I feel bad for the people involved as well as those who are involved on the periphery. Having been a part of one of these days even for a moment I know how it feels and hope that the great people who find themselves on the outside looking in are only looking for a short time. Its a fickle game that we choose to play isn’t it?