A Chance

It never ceases to amaze me how wasteful business is. We hear all the time about how lazy workers are, how they don’t want to work in the office anymore, how they want all this pay, and all these benefits, and on and on, but it seems we don’t like to remind businesses that they are a bigger part of the problem. 

As they say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. 

Because in this case, the game is rigged. 

The odds have always been in the favor of the businesses. They do the hiring and they do the firing. They control the money and the product. While they are beholden to shareholders and boards and the demand for whatever they produce or do, the fact remains that they get to make the choices that change people’s lives. When there are tax loopholes, they find them, when there are bailouts, they are first in line, and when things go toes up they are more than willing to sell off or flush the business down the toilet and pull the cord on those golden parachutes. 

Sure, we need businesses, we need work and we need products, there’s no denying that. The problem is in how slow and resistant to change they are and how gleefully they punish the clock punchers while the higher ups get raises. 

One of the things that bothers me is how quick they are to fire people, without warning, without guidance, and without a chance. They are more than happy to hire folks and within days, within weeks, or within months they fire them and show them the door. 

Aside from being inefficient, it’s inhumane. 

Oh, sure, they’re businesses, not people, what do they care?

Well, if they want some of the same protections a person gets then they get some of the same punishment when they screw up. 

Few things I feel like I can speak to on authority but on being fired I can. And heck, I have, but let’s dive into this pile of poo once more. 

It’s a very easy thing to fire someone. 

It’s a very knee-jerk thing. 

Sure, some folks deserve it, like the guy I worked with once that was using his work computer for cruising for babes on dating sites and even had some nudes of himself on there. 


Or the guy that was caught making out with another co-worker in a break room. 


Or the person I worked with who was accused of stealing. 


Some folks just don’t literally deserve that job. 

It happens. 

A lot. 

More often though are the ones where the person is reduced to the label of – not working out – and are let go. 

No effort is made to help them, or correct them, or to work with them. 

No effort is made to throw them a lifeline. 

They are just doomed. 

Heck, they may have even woven that particular noose themselves but training costs time and money, as does interviewing and vetting people, as does getting that person supplies and settled. How is it that when it doesn’t work out the worker is punished but Human Resources, who hired them, just sorta gets a pat on the butt and a ‘get ‘em next time’ speech?

As someone who was fired ‘without warning’ (I was told on a Tuesday that the boss set a meeting with me for Friday – told to me by her and in a way that made it clear I was getting canned) I can speak to this. I had been going through a lot. I had lost my mom. I had lost my dog. My supervisor, who I had a rocky relationship with, had left, and I was the last person in that department. I was struggling. The most ‘help’ I got from the boss was when she told me, after putting in a resume for the ex-supervisor’s job, that ‘you aren’t ready for that, maybe next year’ (told to me almost laughing). That was it. I for SURE was having a hard time but have been there for over a year and a half and to have JUST gotten a raise and having had no warnings, or real ‘talking tos’ and just to fire me seems like there was more than just – he’s not working out. 

I am sure if I asked them over there I’d be regaled with stories of my mistakes and screw ups and how I was damaging the program I was working on. 

I am sure I could have learned some of that at the time but chose not to bother as once I was called into her office I had already cleared up my desk, put everything where it belonged (some things in the trash, WHOOPS!) and was dressed up and ready to leave with keys and badge in hand. I asked if they were firing me, seeing the boss and a board member I didn’t know waiting to see me, and I dropped the keys and badge on her desk and told her they could mail me anything they needed me to sign and I left.

Am I curious what they would say?


But not that curious. 

I didn’t need to know. 

It didn’t matter. 

Oh, sure, I got a severance of one paycheck, which helps for, well, two weeks, and then I was in the wind. 

I had left a job I had had for nearly a decade for a new opportunity and was now in the market again. You takes your chances and you spins the wheel, that’s on me. 

Businesses don’t care about the depression that sets in after being fired, or the anxiety, or in my case, the suicidal ideations where you are failing your partner and self and don’t deserve to live. 

They don’t care that unless you are lucky enough to be paying your dad back for your house, you’ll be out of your home in only a couple of months. 

They don’t care that the unemployment system is a maze full of barbed wire and you don’t get the help you need – the money you paid into the system – when you need it. You get it eventually. Probably. 

I remember sitting on hold for four and a half hours once waiting to speak to someone and then only got through when I tweeted at the organization and @ ed them. 


Covid only showed more clearly how many holes are in that particular system. 

Not that it matters because it doesn’t change. 

Sure, it’s exciting at first to look for new jobs.  You get in your head that you can do ANYTHING and start looking all over and apply for things that you wish you could get, you think you could get, and even some beneath what you want because you are desperate. 

We get so desperate we become willing to take anything, and that’s what the system wants. 

People that hold out for a job that fits what they want and need are considered lazy. THEY SHOULD BE WORKING!

And sometimes you have to. 

I took some gig work through a friend of my wife’s and that helped some. 

I was out of work for nine months though and was only just lucky to get a temp job working at a college (in a position that seemed to only be for temps because they didn’t want the burden of another full time person on the books). 

Maybe it was me. 

I accept that. 

My experience is limited. 

My ability to sell myself is hindered. 

I am not young anymore. 

And maybe I am just applying for the wrong jobs. 

But then what were the RIGHT ones?

We put all of the burden of this on the searcher and not the companies, who put together such a biased, narrow view of what they want that it eliminates people without even giving them an interview. 

Oh, sure, you will get dumpster fire people that apply. I mean, I got an interview once for a job that I literally got in there and realized – I can’t do this. 

That was on me. 

But how many people don’t get interviews because the HR person just doesn’t take the time to look at the resume and try to see the person?

Sure, they have a lot of resumes to go through, I get it but, well, that IS their job, the hiring. 

Just like publishers sorta DO hire people to go through the inquiry piles. 

Ugly resume?

Thrown out. 

Spelling mistake?

Thrown out. 

You don’t seem right?

Thrown out. 

We trust our HR folks to actually want to fill that position and fill it with the right person but do they?

And to me, once hired, you are learning and whatever that job is, it’s a lot. 

You are learning the work, the culture, the people, and how things run in the office. 

You have to get comfortable with the flow of things and you deserve a chance to screw up and learn as you get the hang of things. You also deserve to have people train you and work with you to make sure you are ready for the work. 

In my temp job I had to do some manner of data management for them that hadn’t been done in at least a year. I got no training, because no one knew how to do it save for a guy that was long gone. Instead I got a set of rules on HOW to do it. Great…but when you have no reference to work from on how this should go, well, it’s hard. 

I spent days trying to figure it out until I finally got to take a call with the guy who walked through it with me and made it make sense. 

We all deserve a chance to succeed in a job. 

And when we falter, unless it’s some cataclysmic screw up, we deserve help. 

Why are we so anxious to let people go?

To fire them?

To get rid of them?

We should treat people, people who may make very good money, as if they were chosen for that position for a reason and deserve the effort by the business to make sure they aren’t just stuck in a rut. 

We ALL get stuck in those ruts, all get bogged down by life, and we all deserve the decency to have someone reach out to us and not just fire us. 

Ah, but that’s not the world, is it?

We fire and move on. 

People are replaceable. 

If they are aren’t a good fit, then we jettison them and let them figure out their lives from there. 

What do we care?

We don’t ask – why did they get hired in the first place if they were such a screw up?

And trust me, I have seen the people that you ask that about too. 

But this is work. 

Hey, it’s just business, babe, don’t take it personally. 

We’re a mess and it’s about time people stood up to business and let them see what it’s like to not have all the cards. 

Business always wins, and always will, but it’s nice once in a while to see them realize that they may not always hold all the cards.

And that people still matter. 


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