It Happened. Again.
It happened again.
Again, I wasn’t ready for it.
A little less than a year ago, I was at the end of my unemployment benefits after being let go from a job I not only wasn’t happy at, I wasn’t meant for. Being let go from that job came as such as shock to me, as I had just been told how great of a job I was doing. My time being unemployed last spring and summer was filled with plenty of sadness and struggle.
I searched for hours on end each day for a job that would fit me, my skills and my personality. One job I applied for – through Facebook no less – ended up being the bright light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. The title was a bit misleading: “Active Entertainment Hostess” at a venue I would drive by every night on my way home from the law firm. Turns out it was also a restaurant. No big deal, right? I applied and got a phone call requesting for an interview within an hour. My interview was the next day and I was hired on the spot. The manager that interviewed me called me a “unicorn” since I had experience in making reservations, working in the restaurant industry and as a sports hostess/reporter. No one else in our department had that type of experience. I was asked if I would be okay acting as restaurant hostess/greeter on occasion. As I was so desperate for a job, I agreed to anything.
The first few months, I worked as both. It wasn’t terrible, I was happy to be back on my feet again and around people – it was entirely different from my last job. Over time, I got more and more comfortable with my co-workers and management trusted me more. I saw fewer shifts at the front of the restaurant and more in the active entertainment area. By the holidays, I was second in seniority at the AE desk as we called it and the managers were referring to me as a leader. The servers, bartenders, coaches and floor managers all seemed to appreciate me.
Very quickly, and seemingly out of the blue, we had a turnover in management – especially our new General Manager. Within a few months, it was obvious to almost everyone out front that the situation had taken a bad turn. I cannot remember a day that my co-workers and I didn’t talk about finding a new job, some even applied for new ones while on the clock. Going in to work became less and less appealing. It went from a place where I couldn’t wait to clock in and have a fun night with everyone, making sure the customers got the same feeling, to absolutely dreading getting out of my car.
It soon became clear that the new management was set on making big changes and that most of us wouldn’t be around to see them. They had stopped taking our opinions and concerns seriously and we were starting to get treated more poorly with every shift. A lot of servers were putting in their two-weeks notices, a lot of bartenders and cooks had quit, and even some of our best floor managers had quit. Ask any one of them why they left, and they will tell you the same thing: management.
The tried and true notion that a bad manager can run off good employees was rearing its ugly head. Unfortunately, I was the first casualty to go against my will.
I worked a holiday and had the next day off. That day, another employee was a no call, no show – which in this industry almost always results in said employee being fired. That same day, employees were messaging me with questions – questions that would normally go to the manager, but since none of us trusted more than a couple of managers, it made sense. These were the same employees that would come up to me at the end of a shift to see if they could go, as though I was their direct manager. While others may have treated me like a manager due to my seniority, I was certainly not a manager.
One of my co-workers said that the new GM had asked her to work a shift where I was already scheduled and had asked another employee to work another shift where I was already scheduled. I found it odd but thought maybe since an employee had a no call, no show, he was readjusting the week’s schedule to cover her shifts, and that she had been let go.
You would think I wouldn’t be so naive.
I got to work the next day about 15 minutes early, as is stated in our employee handbook but no one but me actually practiced. Just after I clocked in and had said a few words to our coaches, the GM asked to speak to me. In my heart, I knew it was coming but was hopeful I was wrong.
He told me he was terminating me immediately due to a complaint a guest had about me. However, he couldn’t specify when the complaint happened, what it was about, who was with me when it happened – anything at all. I demanded an explanation as an employee moving on so that I could make sure to learn from the experience, but he refused. I had never had so much as a warning/write up. I had never called in sick. I had never turned down a shift. In nine months, I had been late three times, and all were due to construction traffic or accidents. I was basically fired for no reason.
Did I make a scene? You bet. My co-workers and I had been talking for months about how we were trapped and couldn’t say anything about how bad management was – the inconsistency, the uncomfortable touching and closeness when talking to us, the new rules that came from seemingly nowhere. Well, now I can say it all. I was saying it for all my co-workers that still couldn’t speak up. I made sure the co-workers that were there, the manager and even the customers knew that HE was the sole reason we had lost over 50% of our staff in the last month. I was loud. I was told that he didn’t want me behind the desk, and I (politely…) let him know that I would be back there to get my property unless he would prefer the local police come and hand them to me in front of the customers – because that is such a good look for a Tuesday afternoon.
Let me be clear: I was not sad that I was fired. I was angry. If you want to fire me, you should give me a reason. I’ve been fired before. It sucked, but in the end, it was clear that job was not the one for me and I (eventually) accepted it. I was told why I was being fired. I thought it was crap and not the consensus of the office, but I was still told why. This time, I didn’t even get a why. I messaged the two managers I worked with the most often and had been there the longest. I never got a response back. I think their silence speaks volumes on the way the entire business is being ran.
Since then, the co-workers I truly care about have stayed true to me. Some were almost more upset than I was that I got fired. Some have since quit themselves. Every single person I’ve talked to has assured me that I did nothing wrong and that they should be ashamed for how they treated me. As heartwarming as that is, it doesn’t pay the bills. It had been a very, very long time since I worked with co-workers that I truly appreciated and looked forward to seeing. I’m so thankful for the beautiful souls I met over the last nine months and I’m happy to say that they’ll be in my life until I give them a reason to run away.
So, there it is. I’ve been through it before and I’m here again. The thing I noticed this time around is that I must be aware of the mental and emotional state I’m in. I must stop myself from staying in bed all day and eating pizza for two meals a day and not getting dressed. I must remember that the job was not the right job for me. I must remind myself that I have skills much higher than what I was doing there.
I’m looking forward to a great vacation with family in a couple of weeks and when I get home, I’ll be refreshed with a new outlook on everything.
Stay tuned. A(nother) new chapter is on the horizon.