> No More Secrets And Lies: I Lose My Job

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Lose My Job

I was 56 years old at the time, and divorced with three daughters: Josie, who was 20 years-old was living in Oregon; Mary, at 17, was living with me; and Grace, who was 15, was living with me and her mother according to our parenting schedule. Most of my adult life I had worked with children in one capacity or another. I'd been a child protection social worker, a junior high and high school teacher, a counselor with at-risk kids, and a consultant for children and adults with disabilities. I had undergraduate degrees in English and psychology, and I had taught freshman writing classes as a graduate student prior to getting married. For the past five years I had worked as a behavioral analyst and security counselor at a state-run treatment center for the mentally ill.


In August of 2010 I was suspended from my job as a security counselor, and it was obvious to me, my co-workers, and even to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that my suspension was more a firing than a suspension. In fact, my supervisor had told me on a number of occasions he was going to fire me, and on August 6th he did just that.

My girls and I lost everything then. We had no income and we lost our home, our car, even our medical insurance. We had to use food stamps and find other places to live until I could get back on my feet. Mary moved into an apartment with a friend, and Grace stayed at her mom's house. I stayed with a friend in Minneapolis.

The girls were afraid something bad had happened to me, or was going to happen to our family. Grace broke down crying one day and I tried to explain to her what had happened. Our conversation went something like this:

"You see, Grace, I really didn't do anything wrong."
"Then why were you fired?"
"I wasn't fired. I was suspended."
"So why can't you go back to work?"
"Because I'll get fired if I do."
"Why will you get fired if you haven't done anything wrong?"
"I don't really know, Grace."

I really didn't know why I had been suspended from my job, but I knew I would be fired if I returned. And I never did get a chance to explain this to my girls. Maybe my supervisor will some day.

During my last two years of employment, I had been continually harassed by my supervisor with threats that any day I would lose my job. I knew he was trying to fire me, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. Even my union couldn't help me. Numerous unpaid suspensions kept coming along with trivial and absurd reasons for these suspensions. And in order to keep this up, he had to stretch his imagination in order to find new things he could label as "misconduct." And so I was suspended for things like filling out vacation forms wrong, coming to work two minutes late, and not bringing a doctor's note back from the emergency room where my daughter had been rushed one evening in an ambulance. The sheer absurdity of the things he was now suspending me for said more about his determination to fire me than it did about my job performance, and I had to wonder if his task would have been much easier if I actually had done something wrong. Even more absurd, though, was the fact that he actually wanted me to know he was trying to fire me. This became even more clear when one night he told me something would happen to my daughter if I didn't quit.





1 comments:

TSElliott said...

This all gives you the perfect chance to start over. It is a good thing. There are so many people out there still for you to help - you just have to open your mind to the possibilities. Thank goodness that horrible man suspended you - he set you free to find your true calling. Houses and cars are just things - they can be replaced. Let go and be free.

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