Monday, May 20, 2013

Integrity Without Dignity

Matt's mobile number lit up my phone's display and I knew baby Angela must be here.  Like her older brother, she had arrived weeks ahead of schedule, but in my mind she was right on time.  Hearing her father's voice brim with joy and picturing her fresh life in her mother's arms gave me strength.

I had been "fake fired" the Friday before.  Informed that this was just not working out, I was encouraged to find a better fit somewhere else.  My boss gave me one week to decide how long I needed. 

My thoughts swung from slithering out to demanding to be kept on until my own baby was born.  I went from zero to six months every hour, every day, for a week.  It was emotional.  It was exhausting.  But, I finally decided.   

Readying myself for our meeting, I bear hugged my notepad, looked to the drop ceiling, and repeated the decision in my head, "My plan is to stay on two more months.  This will give me sufficient time to wrap up this season's big event and find a new job."

My cube was my corner, but it was time to enter the ring.  In her office, I was faced by my boss as well as her favorite employee, a fellow forty-something female incapable of finding a satisfying position of power in the for-profit world.  I could almost smell the cougar pee.  

I was going to speak first.   I needed to speak first.  I didn't get to speak first.  She didn't let me speak first.    

"Kristin, before you tell us what you have decided, we've been thinking..."

No, no, no.  My decision.  My decision.  This was my decision.  Let me make my own decision.

"We are going to consider this past week the first of your two weeks notice.  Next Friday will be your last day."

A powerful pink haze shocked my system.  I was going to have my first baby soon.  Maybe my baby would be a girl, too.  My mind clouded over.  I stared straight ahead.  I may have smiled.  I probably said something.  I always say something, but this time I am not sure.

"Why don't you head back to your desk and send us a list of your open tasks?  I'll have a copy of the severance terms on your chair on Monday." 

Decompressed and finished with the requested email, I hit "send" with vengeance.  Somehow I had been fake fired and then forcefully fired in seven short days.  And all I had was seven short days left.  I exited in a huff to seek solace in McDonald's and then my friends.  

But I returned to serve my sentence with all the integrity I could muster.  I signed my severance package and delivered it in silence. I stayed for eight full hours Monday through Friday.  I finished everything on my list and more.     

I packed my stuff.  I planned a trip to meet baby Angela and I physically moved on.  But nothing more.

I had nothing left.  I had let them take my dignity away.
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29 comments:

  1. Ouch. Ouch!!

    It's a wonder people like that even have subordinates. But they do, and I've been one of them. I've been there too. Never fired, but hammered down into hamburger? Oh yeah.

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    1. Yeah, it was tough. Sorry to hear you've had it too.

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    1. Haha! Thanks, cynk. It really wasn't a great fit for me and that became ridiculously clear during the time frame of this piece.

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  3. That totally sucks, and for the record, they didn't take your dignity. Yours was the most dignified response to disrespectful treatment that I've ever heard.

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    1. I know they didn't, but it sure felt like it at the time. Thank you for your kind words.

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  4. I am with psycho chef. They didn't take your dignity or your ability to write this out for all of us. So well done. The image of your cubicle as your corner and her office as the ring-- Brillz. Very well done. AS USUAL!

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    1. Thanks Christie! I really appreciate it. And very well done using "abbrevs" in your comment!

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  5. No, they didn't take your dignity. That you are able to write this so well and with such a clear head shows that you left there and moved on with your dignity fully in tact. I hope they are kicking themselves, both literally and metaphorically, for letting you go.

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    1. It helps that it was nearly five years ago and I have matured even more since then. But, yes, it was always their loss :)

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  6. Ouch. You describe the humiliation so perfectly. I hated your boss SO MUCH.

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  7. Oh my gosh... This almost made me cry!! That is unreasonable!! I wanted to pull your boss through my computer and yell and scream at him/her for you!! Goodness...

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  8. As they say: "Assholes - can't live with them, can't unlease your pet tarantulas on them without the cops finding out". OK, so nobody says that, but I just did. So there.

    Sorry about that whole situation, but I hope it ended up working out for the better in the end!

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  9. ow. i don't miss that kind of power play. but it seemed to me, you certainly left with dignity.

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  10. The fact that you stayed and finished all your projects, in spite of the way they treated you, shows tons of class and dignity. Hard situation, for sure, but you should be proud of yourself.

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  11. What an awful thing for them to do. Sometimes I really wonder how people in management get there. But you did the perfect thing - still acted like a great employee, even if they didn't act like great employers!

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  12. Awful! I'm so sorry you went through this. I disagree about your dignity - you handled yourself with more dignity than I could muster in a similar situation.

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  13. Oh, man. This is a really brave post. I have *so* been there. One of my pet peeves is faux-empowering corporate speak. If it's not really my decision, then tell me it's not really my decision. Don't muddy the issue by talking around it.

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  14. Oh, man... You were awesome under some lousy circumstances.

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  15. This happened to me when I was three months pregnant with my second. I had a chauvinistic new boss who thought men were better at sales to other men (WHAT???). They knew I was preggers when they let me go and I didn't have the money to file a discrimination suit. So, I sat in the unemployment office with a two year old and big as a house. In the end, it was the best thing but at the time, for my family, it sucked!!! They did not take away anything from you except a paycheck. You handled it with dignity. I shredded my client files.

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  16. Yes, this reminds me of the cold sterility of the corporate world that I used to deal with. I'm sorry they did that to you. That just sucks. I think you handled it beautifully. With dignity.

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  17. I agree with the peeps who said that you kept your dignity. You did AWESOME!
    But those jackholes? I kinda want to kick them in the babymakers.
    You know?
    ;-)

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  18. That really sucks to lose your control in the situation. But I echo everyone above that you kept your dignity, and even in writing this post, you weren't that kind of whiny, blame-pointing person that so many people become. You were clearly upset, but don't sound bitter and baby-ish. Nice job!

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  19. After reading this, I wanted to kick some ass. How dare they?? Grr...

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  20. I'm a true believer in karma... May they get all that they deserve! And I truly believe that integrity counts for a lot. Good for you for being true to who you are.

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  21. It felt so humiliating on the receiving end, but you left with your head high and they knew it. Well done.

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  22. That's pure awful! I don't know if I'd be able to stick it out the last week! Well done!

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  23. You didn't let them take your dignity away! No one can ever take away your dignity. We are always in control of that, because we choose how we act. (And when we act badly, the goal is to forgive ourselves.) But it doesn't sound like you acted badly. My own experience in an office made me realize that there are a lot of gender dynamics at play, and someone needs to write a book about this. But maybe it's such a touchy subject....

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