A Short Story About Getting Fired
One tiny mistake and, boom, ya done.
Note: Hey readers, I’d like to experiment with more short-story fiction this year. So here’s something.
“We can help save you from the tornado of paperwork you might find yourself in,” I’d said to the person on the other end of the phone.
Now, did I know this person’s entire family died in a tornado? No. How could I? So why am I getting fired because of that?
That’s literally a line my boss wrote in the sales script I’ve been using since I got here 3 months ago. By now I knew it like the back of my cat’s asshole.
When you make a hundred cold-calls and e-mails a day to businesses, trying to sell them on our “easy paperless expense reporting service,” that shit’ll get tattooed into your head pretty quick.
And now I’m getting the axe because of it.
Because, of all the thousands of people I’ve called, of course I had to get this one guy in Kansas who had his entire family killed in a tornado 12 years ago. God, I’ll never forget the sounds of his half-sobbing-half-screaming at me over the phone, informing me that all 54 members of his immediate and extended family died in that tornado that swept through town, except for him. The dog survived too, but some people only like to focus on the glass half empty part, you know?
It didn’t help that his business would’ve been HUGE for our company. This guy was VP of a consulting firm, where expense reports are king. But, like, a king that nobody likes. I remember reading about some guy Ivan The Terrible? This would be Expense Reports The Terrible.
They’d use our service and save thousands of hours and dollars and headache on expense reports.
We’d be freakin’ heroes.
We’d be able to put his company up on our website. We’d be able to get an amazing testimonial out of it. We’d be able to use this as a case study. Maybe a Ted Talk? Okay, maybe not quite Ted Talk, but at least we’d get a write-up in the Wall Street Journal. Maybe they’d call us a “hot company to watch.”
Maybe I’d get promoted. Maybe we’d get bigger and the WSJ would write us up again. This time, they’d include a little stippled headshot of mine, because I’d be an “important asset to the growth of this company.”
Maybe then Christine would text me out of the blue. She’d be like, “Hey… It’s been awhile. Saw you in the Wall Street Journal, omg they made a little stippled portrait of you! Glad things are going well. Wanna get coffee and catch up?”
Or she’d pop up more regularly as a viewer of my Insta stories. I’d see her name there in the list of people who’ve viewed my post. And it’d give me hope.
None of that’s happening now.
Instead, after that VP made a very angry call to my manager, here I am on the elevator down, my few desk tchotchkes piled into a small box, about to step out into a world of uncertainty. (Now I know what the astronauts must’ve felt like stepping out onto the moon for the first time.)
God, does this mean I’ll have to do some soul-searching? I did that after my last job and I really don’t have the funds, time, or desire to backpack across Costa Rica this time around.
But the thing that hurts the most right now, the thing that makes me want to cry as the elevator doors open into the office building lobby, is writing that LinkedIn update. Having to explain to everyone why I was let go. Having to post that I’m on the hunt for a new job. And having that post pop up in all my successful friends’ LinkedIn feeds. And knowing that Christine will probably see it.
God damn you, tornado.