Philadelphia Metropolis


Fired for All the Right Reasons

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Best of VoxPop: The World of Work

By Anthony Borzotta

So I had a first-time experience the other day. For most of the spring and summer, I was working for a company in University City. It was an easy job. A trained monkey could have done it, aside from the occasional crisis (in which I imagine the monkey would have run about throwing feces, which is not very conducive to getting things fixed -- however rewarding it may be).

Basically, I sat in a room with one other person, stared at a big TV, and occasionally used a control panel to move cameras to different views. I honestly can't say much more than that due to my NDA, but you get the idea. Simple.

I had taken this job, you see, to pay some bills. They tend to accumulate, what with consuming electricity and all that. And as much as I enjoyed the carefree life of the freelance videographer, it wasn't cutting it. So part-time job time it was.

Monkey-Computer.jpgI thought things were going fine. I went to the staff meetings (so full I couldn't really see who was talking), the summer party, I showed up early to work every day, I never missed a shift. Sure, I was distracted; sometimes I'd miss moving a camera because I was reading, or talking to my fellow employees. Yeah, okay, this one time I got written up for (REDACTED). But to be honest, from my perspective I was performing on par with my fellows (some of whom had been there 10 years, working part-time the whole time), and no one said anything about my performance being questionable.

So when my (former) boss calls me, while I'm at the gym no less, on my day off, to tell me I'm being let go, I had some questions.

"What the heck?" I asked. "What did I do?"

"Well there have been some issues with you using electronics on the job." True. I did bring my iPod to listen to music (helped pass the time and keep me focused, to a degree), and I do have one of them Kindles to read on. But this had been brought up before, and I modified my use habits, and anyway my fellow employees spent entire shifts on the phone so what gives?

"Well you've been leaving early." Also true. When my work was done, I'd make sure no-one needed anything and leave. This was maybe 10 minutes before the official "end-of-shift," but the aforementioned 10-year residents never said a word about that being a problem.

Finally, my boss says: "Well, we don't have the resources to sit down and really work this out."

Okay. Fine. I get it. I'm not worth the time. And since management lost someone earlier this year, they're a little stretched thin. Fine. I can handle rejection. Honest. I'm not bothered at all. This hasn't crushed some part of me.

Yeah, right.

So after a fit of ranting, raving, a bit of a breakdown, calling my mother (gotta love mothers), I start to thinking: maybe this really has nothing to do with my performance. Or at least is only tangentially related. See, what I discovered is, I'm not the right fit for that company.

I still freelance, I own a videography company, and that's where my passion lies. This was a job to pay for my gas. And I think management knew that.

I went in the next day to talk to my (former) boss, and to hand in my ID badges. We had a frank discussion, where he confirmed my suspicions. He used the phrase "part-time professionals," an employee who actually cares about the job beyond performing its necessary duties. People who drinketh of the Kool-Aid.

I was reminded of the scene from "Office Space," where Jennifer Aniston's character is talking to her boss at that God-awful "Friday's" knock-off. He's explaining about her "pieces of flair." She points out that she has the required number. He sighs.

See, the point of that conversation, and the reason I got fired, is that in both circumstances the boss wants an employee who will be devoted to the company. You don't get 10-year part-timers without some serious cult action, and I've never been much good at drinking the punch (or, I should say, some part of me always spits a bit of it out). Given the economic climate, this is probably a problem for me.

But you know what? Fine. If there is some cosmic force that sends messages to us lowly apes, maybe it's trying to tell me to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and to focus even harder on what my passion is.

Besides, I'm too young to be that broken down.


Anthony Borzotta lives in Philadelphia, where he remains quite happy to frustrate the man with his disinterest.

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