FIRED & UNDESIRED: The Myth About Working Hard

“They don’t want you to report back.”

The words made my heart sink.  I had just started a temp assignment the day before, and the company didn’t want me back.  What did I do wrong?  I worked my butt off the entire day, grasping their accounting processes in less than an hour.  Pile after pile of paperwork was eliminated, to the point where work had to be taken from other people to accommodate my speediness.  Soon, there was no more work, and I was given the typical crap work to do until the day had finished.  I did it all with a smile and a gentle silence.  The smiles back and the low chatter made it appeared as if everything was going my way.

Getting this opportunity was extremely important for me.  I hadn’t worked all year, thanks to leaving a job that was literally killing me with stress.  Choosing life over wages, I couldn’t work for quite a while until my health had rebounded.  It felt like I was finally getting the chance to break back into the workforce and stabilize my finances.  NOPE.  The company unceremoniously left a message for the temp agency to end my assignment, citing “over qualification” as the reason.

This was straight BS.  My resume is what got me in the door, so someone obviously saw it and didn’t have a problem with my listed experience.  It clearly wasn’t about that.  Apparently I had rubbed someone the wrong way.  I couldn’t help but ponder the possibilities.  Was it the guy in the cubicle in front of me, who didn’t care for his normal chatting buddy being usurped by my training needs for the day?  Was it the supervisor that I had to work around because he decided to park in front of the filing cabinet while he wasted an hour shooting the breeze with two other employees?  Was it the manager that saw me texting near the break room, not realizing that I hadn’t taken a break all day except for that moment?  Or was it one of the other accounting clerks, who didn’t particularly care for my ability to grasp their job so quickly?

At this point, it really doesn’t matter.  Not only had that job slipped away from my desperate grasp, but this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened.  Many years ago, I was let go from a temp assignment after one day because the supervisor didn’t like the attention I was receiving from his employees. Forget the fact that I was happily married and couldn’t care less about fraternizing.  He actually told the temp agency that I was “too distracting”. This was after trying to give the excuse of me looking at the paper during lunch (as in, being accused of looking for another job) as the reason. For a different job that I did manage to get, I was informed later by an employee that a decision maker didn’t want me to have the job because she “didn’t feel comfortable” giving me orders.  Who the hell is scared of a temp?  Here I was, the sum total of years of experience, strong work ethic and demonstrated adaptability, and I was sent packing over “reasons”.  It’s happen to me several times, it’s happened to many people over and over again.

Think I’m exaggerating?  Just watch this clip of the amazing Louis CK casually tell Jimmy Fallon a not-so amazing sabotage story directed at the Tonight Show host.

For completely arbitrary reasons, Louis CK was hell bent on making his life Jimmy free, regardless of his admitted appeal and talent.  This is a prime example of a decision maker holding one’s fate in their hands and deciding to screw them for their own personal gain or whim.  Am I bitter?  Absolutely, but not about losing a job.  That just saddens me.  I’m bitter about the lip service that lucky people give to unlucky ones, as if their memories and awareness are faulty. Life isn’t always black and white, nor do we all have complete control over our circumstances. "Just work hard and you'll have what you want" is a lie that nobody needs to have thrown in their face, let alone believed with so much evidence to the contrary.

So, shelve that uninvited advice to those that aren’t as fortunate as you for the moment.  All it takes is the right excuse and the wrong person, and your world could totally change.

Has your career ever been sabotaged by a decision maker?
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