Thursday, July 07, 2005

I Got Fired Today

Well, this is some shit.

Joan was out of the office today, so I was working her relief schedule (this meant bouncing from floor to floor all day to give receptionists their breaks). I had my fake "Judygate" notes with me, so I left a voicemail for Madeleine in PR to tell her which floors I'd be on. She caught up to me on the 19th floor when I was covering Mary Martha's lunch hour.

"Do you have the notes?" she asked in her fake-nice soprano. I handed her the three pages of Judy information I had forged last night along with a typed draft of the article. "I had already drafted this the day of my interview with Judy," I told her, "so if you guys want to read it you'll see that it portrays her in a positive light, and it doesn't mention the firm at all." Madeleine regarded me smugly: "Well, I don't see the article being published at this time."

"Ok," I replied, "I'll check in with you later to see if you guys have reconsidered." Her patience thinned: "We can't let the article run at this time."

Perplexed that these PR folks continued to use the phrase at this time, I replied, "Ok, I'll call you next week to follow up."

"No, we'll call you!" she retorted, her tone suddenly not even fake-nice and her cheeks pink with either anger or embarrassment.

Half an hour later, Shandace from HR got off the elevator and approached my desk: "Today will be your last day." She spoke quietly and plainly. "It's not a reflection on you, we just don't have a need for you anymore." I stared back at her, shocked. I struggled to find a response and a tone in which to say it that conveyed the right balance of incredulity and nonchalance. All I came up with was a meek "Ok."

I considered just walking out after Shandace left, but then I realized that I still needed to get my timesheet signed. My pride wasn't worth three days' pay.

At 4:00 the relief schedule ends. You're supposed to check in with Susan in HR so that she can send you to help a secretary for an hour -- but Joan says Susan usually just lets her go home early. So at 4:00 I went down to HR, gave my timesheet to Susan, and asked if she needed me to help on anything (figuring she would just let me go home). Misunderstanding my question, she ran her finger across her July/August calendar, looked at me with a smile of superiority and fake pity and said, "No dear, it looks like we won't be needing you to come back at this time."

I sighed. "I meant: do you need me...for the next help a secretary?" Her expression didn't change; perhaps she had understood my question in the first place and was taking pleasure in my humiliation. This must have been the highlight of the month in her small life.

I still expected her to let me go home at this point, but she actually picked up the phone and called a secretary who she said needed help closing out files. When the call went to voicemail she hung up and started scanning her phone list, asking herself who else might need help for an hour. She must have heard the "are you kidding me?" that I screamed in my head (or maybe I said it under my breath) because in a final moment of mercy she decided to let me go.

I bolted from the HR office (clank!) and punched impatiently at the elevator button. Once downstairs I slipped into my Nikes and headed outside to the bus stop. Do these fools really think I would give them my "notes" from the interview without keeping a copy for myself? What was that supposed to accomplish? And if they were worried about getting bad publicity from me, did they really think firing me would help the situation? Would they have fired me yesterday if I had given them my "notes" then?

And what is to stop me from printing the article at this point?