I WAS FIRED ONCE…

I was fired a while ago. I saw it coming but I couldn’t prepare adequately, meaning that I couldn’t find another job on time. I would like to stay as vague as possible as to not incriminate any former employer, because this isn’t about the employer, the job market, my qualifications, the current state of the economy. It is just something personal.

I was on a temporary contract and surprisingly enough, I was fired a few weeks after renewing a new contract. Did I see it coming? Frankly, I did to a certain degree. So how come I didn’t do anything to avoid the firing? Well, I believe we all have this ability to see a situation unfold, we see a messy outcome approaching at the speed of light but, at times, we stay put and refuse to move. We freeze and we can’t or don’t move. We try to deny reality, we force ourselves to turn a blind eye to a plain and simple situation. Well, I suppose that is what happened to me. I denied reality and found myself in trouble. After being fired, I spent about 15 months being unemployed, getting some unemployment insurance, which is never enough, and dipping into my savings. I did get another job and life went on and still does.

I remember the person that fired me. I remember sitting with them in their office a few days before. Congratulations were thrown my way, encouragement and kind words were directed at me. I admittedly let my guard down, knowing fully well that the situation was dire. I was a “valued member of the team and the company”. I left the meeting happy as any employee would. However, barely 48 hours later, I was being let go. My boss signed my pink slip and I exited the building. I was frustrated, angry yet oddly enough, I felt liberated. Luckily for me, I kept in touch with my old colleagues and they did confirm to me that my boss ‘boss, the same person that offered words of encouragement was the one that approved and actually pushed for my ousting.

Perhaps I was incompetent, that is one likely possibility which crossed my mind. I was told to change the way I worked but after hearing that more than half a dozen people got fired, people who were on temporary contracts and who worked just as I did, same productivity and efficiency, I started suspecting I wasn’t to blame entirely. Perhaps I was resistant to change, perhaps I pushed back at times, and this kind of rebellious attitude wasn’t appreciated, which I sincerely understand. I am not the perfect employee and I don’t even know the person’s agenda was, but ultimately, I was fired. That means no paycheck, that means my livelihood is put in jeopardy. The bills don’t stop coming and your bank account still needs to be replenished.

A few weeks after being fired, I saw the person responsible for my unemployment. Without even thinking, I went over to them just to say hello. I wasn’t thinking about embarrassing them or yelling at them or doing anything else but saying hello. I went up to greet them and I saw how they were embarrassed to see me, and they reluctantly said hello to me. That is when I saw they were with their kid, just buying ice cream on a hot and humid Friday afternoon in Montreal. I quickly said hello and walked away to avoid the deepening awkwardness that was setting between us.

The following 15 months weren’t easy, they were hard as a damn rock. I looked for work, but I couldn’t find any. There is still considerable discrimination in most companies when you have an ethnic name like mine. I am saying this based on personal experiences and on a study done by an entity of the Quebec government. Yet, I was lucky enough to know people and have good relationships with them and I got a new job. But…A few months into my new job, as I was exiting the elevator to go for lunch, guess who exits the adjacent elevator? The same person that had fired me about 2 years before. Our glances met and we both smiled and greeted each other wholeheartedly. We talked for a few minutes. They told me they changed jobs a few weeks after my “departure” and they had a better position now in a new company. I told them what I was up to and they seemed sincerely happy for me, that I landed on my feet. As I was walking away after we said our goodbyes, they told me to wait for a moment and they started to say “Listen, about what happened back then…” I stopped them right there. I told them it didn’t matter. The one thing that does matter is that we are both ok and no hard feelings or grudges were held. We shook hands and both moved on. I saw them a couple times after that encounter and each time, I would smile and nod or stop and greet them.

This whole story has taught me something valuable that I wanted to share: after I was fired, I went through some tough times. I had to deal with issues that ranged from personal to financial and many others. I admit being angry at that person for firing me for no good reason (that is my opinion I am sticking to it!) and that anger was living rent free in my brain and heart. I realized that it was holding me back. It was counterproductive, unnecessary, hurtful to hold on to that anger. The person that fired me barely cared about my pain because they considered they had done their job. I was the only one that was angry. Were they responsible for my subsequent issues? Yes, they were, but they played a minor part in that. I am the one responsible for my life. Yes, I am the one. Shit happens, you get hurt but being bitter and negative, is never the solution. Therefore, I decided to move on, to let go of the negative emotions, to be productive and not hold a grudge against a person that wasn’t fundamentally mean, they were just doing their job, maybe they had to cut jobs for all I know, I couldn’t really know their motivations, but one thing emerged as clear, the firing wasn’t personal.

Holding grudges is counterproductive on a quantum level. It doesn’t help you in any way. You need to find the fortitude to move forward and on to greener pastures. I found another job and it took some time, I didn’t happen overnight. Was it easy? Fuck no! Did I lose sleep at times when I didn’t have money to pay my rent or my bills? Fuck yeah! However, you just need to be patient and move forward. You just need to push out the negative feelings once you have dealt with them. Once you understand how you feel, then you can move on. Please do not burn any bridges, do not hold on to grudges, do not despair even if the situation looks grim, be kind to anyone you encounter because being mean and lashing out at people helps no one. There is always a solution to every problem. Keep being optimistic, keep the positive energy in your heart and keep moving forward, whether it is a professional setting or personal. Just think of yourself and your well being. That is all you need to do.

Just one man’s opinion based on a personal experience.

Now, smile, chase the grudges away and go on with your day.

Freeman. B