TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

January 16, 2014

Surviving the axe

CORBIN — I’ve been fired before — and anyone who has been fired knows how it feels.

I couldn’t pinpoint one particular emotion — for me it was a cornucopia of feelings crammed with a big, fat, thorn-covered stick into one crazy, tearing, shredding blender that wanted to explode like a cannon.

Anger.

Embarrassment.

Bewilderment.

Confusion.

Betrayal — the list goes on and on.

Granted, I can count more than 50 places I’ve worked where I earned at least one taxable paycheck in my more than 25 years of employment.

So the odds were stacked against me on that one.

The last time I got fired from a position, it was a little more than a decade ago.

During the course of my employment, I wore a great many hats — I was in charge of several different projects, a member of several various management committees and led a staff of 25 in-house employees and a host of contract labor.

During my tenure at that particular business, there were a great many conflicts that swept through my department — many of them involved me.

And many of those conflicts involved my way of thinking versus their way of thinking — and too often we were not only not on the same page — we were in entirely different novels.

I did bring a great many things to the table, and many positive changes were made.

But I do admit, I approached my position with that company in a poor way. I didn’t want to be the boss that I had hated as an employee.

So I thought being the leader of a team would be a better approach — it wasn’t — and it wasn’t what the company wanted either.

They sought more of a “Rule With an Iron Fist” approach — one I found offensive.

So I pressed forward with my way of thinking, wanting so much to prove myself right in my analysis. And in the end, it burned me — fired after just three years.

Oh, there were other factors over which I had no control — factors which added to the marks against me at that company.

Once I got over the blender mess of emotion and moved on with my life, I realized they were right in at least some of their ways of thinking.

And the bottom line is this — it’s their business, and they make the decisions.

I learned a great many lessons about people and management at that particular business — and in the end am very glad for it and hopeful to put that knowledge to the test one day.

One day, anyway.

But while that firing was likely the most shocking to me — it wasn’t my first rodeo.

I actually got fired from the same job — twice.

When I was 19, I worked for a restaurant as a waiter (I think that profession now calls them “servers”), and had been with the place since they opened their doors.

It was a busy place, and it was pretty decent money. I made anywhere from $8-$10 an hour, depending on business.

Often the serving staff would be scheduled in “split shifts,” meaning you’d come in and work a two- or three-hour lunch, then be off for two or three hours until you returned for the dinner shift for another four- or five-hour shift.

I loathed those days.

One day I was working a split shift and during the lunch rush suddenly got hit with an asthma attack. I’m pretty sure someone was wearing perfume I can’t breathe around — and my inhaler died.

It got pretty bad, pretty fast — I needed to either get an inhaler or get to the hospital.

I asked the waiter working the section next to mine to pick up my tables, then headed for the manager on duty to let him know I had to go.

He quickly informed me if I left, no matter what the reason, I’d be fired.

At first, I tried to go back to my section and work.

But I was scared — I could barely suck in air at all.

So I turned around, dropped the apron and headed for the door.

The manager tried to stop me physically, and when I turned around, he could tell I was serious. So he let me go and told me I was fired.

In desperation, I went back to that place a few weeks later and managed to get my job back.

For about a month or so.

The second and final time I was fired from that restaurant, it involved alcohol.

The manager on duty fired me with a huge, screaming lecture because a bartender made an alcoholic beverage in a glass for non-alcoholic drinks — three of which I served to a 13-year-old girl before she told her mother “these taste funny.”

Believe me when I tell you — that girl knew what she was doing.

Of course, the only way I knew at the time to tell if the drinks were alcoholic was to taste-test them — which obviously wouldn’t work in that business.

So yes — I’ve been given the axe.

And sure enough I survived.

People get fired from jobs every day across the country.

The reasons are immeasurable — something frivolous, something serious, or nothing really at all — but the end result is the same every time.

You’ve lost a job — but if you look hard enough, you might gain an opportunity.

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com.

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