Story of the Day: I Got Fired 2 Months After My Parents Died
A young man who was doing extremely well at his first job was fired two months after his beloved parents were killed in a car crash.
Two months ago, my world fell apart. I thought I had it pretty good. I'm 22, and I had amazing parents, a lovely girlfriend, and a great job I loved -- plus, I was pulling about $99 k a year which is wild for a guy my age.
So one day I'm at work, and the phone rang. It was the police telling me my parents had been in a car accident. They were gone, just like that. I couldn't keep to my feet. I crashed, just crumpled.
It wasn't possible. I thought it was a prank call, you know? But then I was standing in that morgue, looking down at them covered with these white sheets. They were gone, they were really gone, and I was alone.
The first few days were a daze for me. It was like I was numb, a novocaine shot to the soul. I did what I had to do. I talked to the police. Some drunk's brakes had failed, and my parents were dead.
I couldn't believe the stuff I had to do, so I called my boss, and she was very nice. She told me to take a month's compassionate leave, come back when I was feeling better. That took a weight off my shoulders alright.
So I spoke to the undertaker, and my parent's lawyer and the florist and I called every person on their silly old-fashioned telephone book with my mom's little squiggly doodles down the margins, and I told the world: my parents are dead.
You'd think that after you've called about fifty different people and told them the same news it gets easier, like an automatic thing, but each time I said "they died" this pain gripped my throat like I was making it real by saying it.
I was starting to think that I was getting on top of things when my boss called me into a meeting with the HR department.
I made it. My girlfriend Annie stood by me all the way. She was so great. Everyone was. Neighbors were coming over and bringing stuff all the time; you know, until the attention became suffocating.
I lived through it, I guess, and through the funeral, watching those coffins being lowered side by side into the dirt. I wanted to scream that they'd made a mistake. They weren't dead.
Not my dad, who couldn't tie a knot, or put a worm onto a hook, or do any of the cool things other fathers did, but who knew the names of all the stars, or my funny giggly pretty mom. They just couldn't be gone.
I couldn't believe it was possible to cry until my face was scalded and burned. Nothing seemed real. Packing away their things, putting that huge house on the market, sorting out their lives.
Anyway, before I knew it, the month was over, and I was back at work. It all seemed so unreal; it was like I didn't know any of the people, customers, or anything. I couldn't seem to break through the daze.
Every time I picked up the phone to call a prospective client, I choked up. I couldn't function, so I went to the doctor, and he put me on an antidepressive and warned me it would take a few weeks for the meds to kick in.
My girlfriend asked me to move in with her so I wouldn't be alone. Annie made an appointment for me with a psychologist her mother had recommended who specialized in grief counseling.
I started to think that I was getting on top of things when my boss called me into a meeting with the HR department. I thought they wanted me to do therapy or something, but I was in for a surprise.
There were three of them, my boss, a lady I'd always thought of as sympathetic and humane, and the two HR drones who walk around sniffing out "conflict."
They asked me to sit down, all polite and nice, then she hit me with it: "Daniel, you know you've been a great asset in this firm over the last year..."
I could practically hear the "but" in her voice. She continued: "Unfortunately, even though we've been sensitive --" here, she paused, "Very sensitive to your situation, your progress seems to have stalled."
I just sat there staring at her. She actually seemed to feel encouraged by my silence. "So, sadly, we've had to come to a tough decision -- particularly painful for me, Daniel -- and we have to let you go."
That last part sank in, and I asked dumbly: "Let me go where? I've started therapy this week..."
She at least had the grace to blush while the HR drones just gaped. She said: "Let you go...Terminate your employment..."
"You're firing me?" I couldn't believe it. "I was this company's top salesman for the last two quarters and you're firing me?"
The boss lady fiddled with her pen: "Well, you were, but this last month..."
"I lost my parents!" I found myself on my feet and screaming. "I buried my mother and my father after some drunk bastard plowed into them, did you think I'd be dancing the Macarena in the showroom?"
One of the HR drones spoke up: "Really, Mr. Kelly, your tone..."
"My tone is about to get louder! The company is now benefiting from corporate clients I brought in, clients which will bring in millions over the next two to three years. And you are firing me..."
I shook my head to clear it. "You always said we were a "family." Quite a family, you've got here!"
The boss lady was red as a beet. "Daniel, really, it a rational decision, a corporate decision..."
I'd had enough. "You know where you can stuff your corporate decision! You are all a bunch of jerks."
I walked out and slammed that door behind me. I walked to my desk and packed my stuff, and walked out. I was so angry and so hurt. I'd worked so hard for that company, and at the lowest moment of my life, they had dumped me.
I called Annie and she came to fetch me and my pathetic cardboard box -- yes, I had to hand in the company car straight away too. So that was me, with my pink slip and my life gone to pieces.
Thank God for Annie; she was there throughout that terrible first night. I felt so angry, so betrayed and abandoned by everything and everyone. Mostly I felt angry at my parents for dying on me and screwing up my life.
I know that sounds really sick, but that's how I felt. The shrink said it was normal, a stage of grief, and I guess it must be. I started driving around in my mom's little car, started answering ads, and going to job interviews.
Annie and the shrink think it's too soon, and the truth is I could afford to wait, but suddenly I'm afraid I'll never get out there again, you know? That pain will be stamped on my face, and no one will give me a job.
Yesterday I had a surprise call from the boss lady. I couldn't believe it. What could she want? Basically, she wanted to apologize. She told me she had told her husband the story about how she fired me, and he came down on her like a ton of bricks.
He told her that he knew how it felt to lose a mother, and that it took months to come back from the edge, and that she'd been a jerk just like I said. I really respected her for being so honest.
Anyway, she said she had a good friend who works for a top headhunting firm and that she would put me in touch with him as soon as I felt ready. She said she'd recommend me personally as one of the most dynamic salespeople she'd ever had.
I couldn't believe how good just hearing that made me feel. Suddenly I knew I was going to be alright. These dark days would pass, and in a month or two, I'd be ready to take on the world again.
I'm not going to lie -- I miss my mom and dad as much as ever, sometimes so much it's hard to breathe. The shrink says it gets easier to bear, and I hope he's right. I know I have to move forward with my life; that's what they would have wanted.
Most of all, I want to make them proud of me like I was proud of them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a cheating husband who dared to bring his girlfriend into the house while his wife was asleep.