Welcome to Day 20 of my 31 Day Blogging Challenge in July! Today, I am going to share with you a difficult time in my life. I’ve discussed my anxiety, father issues and heartbreak in the past so I won’t go into any of that. This story took place when I was 21 & was not only the catalyst for my shattered confidence but also the event that led to my impending second nervous breakdown.
This is the story of how I got fired from my job…
When I was at University, I lived in a share house for 3 years next to the campus as it was over an hour away from my home. In the summer, when my final year in Geelong was complete, I moved back home ready for a part-time job to support me whilst I completed my fourth and final year of study via correspondence online. I considered myself very lucky to have scored a casual position at a bag store 5 minutes away from my home and really enjoyed working there over the busy Christmas period. The manager, Suzanna, absolutely adored me and often called me her love and her pet. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such a fun job and work with such nice people. I began to get more confident at my job so Suzanna told me I would soon be able to take charge of the store whilst she was away. I was even given shifts to work at other stores around the city. Suzanna loved fussing over me and would let me buy bags for a really good discount.
On Christmas Eve, I was scheduled to work but woke up with a really bad fever. I felt horrible and was so disappointed as a.) I really don’t like letting people down and b.) Christmas Eve was always the big family celebration. I rang Suzanna to let her know I could barely move let alone work a long shift standing up in a busy shopping centre. Whilst she sounded concerned, I noticed she was also a little bit cold. I didn’t think much of this but still apologised profusely. She told me to look after myself and would see me for the Boxing Day shift if I felt better. By the end of Christmas Day, I began to feel better and was ready for my shift on the 26th December. As you know, Boxing Day is the busiest and most hectic time of the year for all shopping centres as all of the items are on sale. I remembered on my last shift, when I checked the roster, that I was to start at 11am so around 10:45am that morning, I drove to the shop and strode in 5 minutes early. I walked into the back room and put my bag down only to find Suzanna had walked in behind me. She closed the door with a very serious look on her face…
I began to panic and my mind started scrolling through the last few shifts wondering if I had done something wrong. She jabbed her finger at the roster behind the door and shouted: ‘you’re late!’ I had never seen her angry or yell before, especially at me, so I was immediately startled. I looked to where she was pointing and saw that my shift (scrawled in pencil) said 10:00am not 11:00am. At that point, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, I may have gotten the time wrong but as I had been a model employee from the beginning, surely I would just get a warning and be let off the hook? I looked her in the eye and said: ‘I’m so sorry Suzanna, I haven’t been well and was convinced my roster said to start at 11 not 10. Why didn’t you call me? I would’ve rushed straight there. I really am sorry for the misunderstanding.’ Expecting her to smile or pat me on the shoulder, her face morphed into the nastiest, most vicious scowl. She said: ‘well you should’ve read the roster properly. I have to let you go now. Pack up your things and leave!’ I stared at her dumbfounded. The woman who had been calling me her love and pet since I got the job was letting me go over a simple misunderstanding? I begged her to reconsider and ended my plea by saying: ‘Suzanna, you know me. You know I would never be late to a shift. I’m always so early!’ In that moment, she spat the words: ‘I don’t know you at all…get out.’
I ran out the door and into my car where I broke down and sobbed for a long time. I cried all the way home and for the rest of the day. My mum comforted me as best she could but I felt like a complete and utter failure. Being fired is bad enough but when you are so callously let go by someone you thought was the kindest, most caring person, it’s even worse. My heart hurt from betrayal, disappointment and a completely shattered self-confidence. As dramatic as it may sound, it took me a good month to get over it…longer even! I liked Suzanna; I thought she liked me. She had called me her best worker and her angel. Much later, when the emotions had left me and I had time to reflect rationally, I learnt a couple of things about her from the other people who worked in the shopping centre. 1.) she was actually an incredibly nasty person who faked niceties at first and 2.) she had fired a lot of casuals before me; particularly when she felt jealous or threatened. Piecing the puzzle together, I realised that when I had called in sick on Christmas Eve, she had decided in that moment to let me go but didn’t have a good enough reason. I am convinced she changed my start time as my memory has always been incredibly clear especially when it came to important things like work. By changing it, she had more of a cause to fire me over it. My mum tried to contest what happened by calling the head office and reporting her but the law does state a manager can terminate a casual employee whenever they so choose. However, even the lady on the phone was sympathetic and agreed with my mum that it was done in a very harsh and unnecessary way. She questioned (as we both did) why Suzanna hadn’t called me when she realised I was 5 minutes late. She purposely waited without calling until I came in an hour later…almost as if it was planned. I wouldn’t have minded if she let me go because I was no longer needed after the Christmas period. I wouldn’t have been so upset if she had been a bitch from the very start but it was the way she had manipulated me into thinking I was her friend and then turned so rapidly that ultimately broke my heart and me. I know now that this one event, led me into a depressive spiral that resulted in my second nervous breakdown a year later.
When I started my self-love journey, this was one of the moments I had to face. It was hard and I cried again. I told myself through tears that I was a wonderful person and didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was. Today, I work in a job with a manager who is wonderful but I never forgot the lesson that people aren’t always what you think they are. She didn’t stop me from trusting others but she taught me not to put so much of myself into someone who is essentially a stranger. Suzanna turned out to be somebody disliked by the majority of the shopping centre. She had a husband and 2 children she never made time for because work was her life. She told me I was her best worker and tossed me out the next week like I was a bag of stinking rubbish. I don’t hate her nor do I hate anybody…I just feel sorry for her. I forgive her because she clearly doesn’t love herself and I hope one day, she learns to…
Has a similar situation ever happened to you? Thank you for reading. I will see you tomorrow! Peace & Love xoxo
This is so brave of you to share, Bec. I was horrified to read what happened to you. “people aren’t always what you think they are.” Such a profound phrase, and it sums up the message of your story very nicely. It is so kind of you to see the story from a perspective from a different perspective, like how Suzanna could have been insecure. Or maybe she had other issues, maybe she had been let down by others before in a similar way, you never know. But dismissing someone and judging them based on one mistake, I don’t think that is fair at all and very harsh.
I have never been fired this way from any job before. Over the last three years, I have worked quite a casual contracts, especially this year and I go to work each day knowing it might be the last. This is not because of a bitchy manager but more of office bureaucracy, staff numbers and rules. As for being screwed over like Suzanna, well, let’s say I have been there more times than I can count in the sense that friends who say there’ll be there for you, but don’t. In these instances, it is hard and hard to move on, but…you just do 🙂
Thank you Mabel, it was an awful time in my life that was difficult to revisit. It’s hard when people you think are wonderful and care about you turn out to be the opposite. Sounds like you’ve had a few experiences in that area too. You’re right…it’s hard to move on but you just do <3 x