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You're Really Fired!

May 9, 2009 | by Gideon Silverstone

Be careful what you wish for...

Two years ago I wrote an article about the fact that I disliked my job so much I secretly wanted to get fired. Well, you know what they say, be careful what you wish for...

I walked into my place of work at 9:00 am, as usual. Took out my breakfast of sliced cantaloupe and began eating, as usual. And began surfing the internet, as usual. A usual start to a usual day. Until my boss popped his head into my cubicle and said, "Gideon, can I speak to you for a moment in my office?" This sounded unusual.

We walked down the hall. I tried to make some chit chat but he raced ahead of me. It was hard not to have the feeling that something was wrong.

As we walked into Steve's office I saw Susan, the Human Resources Director sitting there waiting for us. Her presence was what former CIA director George Tenet would call a "slam dunk" in intelligence circles. I could hear Donald Trump's voice ringing in my ear.

Steve sat down at his desk and picked up a piece of paper. With his hands shaking and his voice quivering, he started reading, "Our company has made some changes in our corporate structure. As a result, your division has become redundant and your services are no longer needed. This is by no means performance based. We all enjoyed having you as our colleague. You will be required to leave our premises immediately. Thank you very much for your years of service."

"You will be required to leave our premises immediately. Thank you very much for your years of service."

Steve got up, shook my hand and left immediately. Susan turned to me and said, "This has been really difficult for Steve."

I thought to myself, "Ya, why don't we all be a little bit more sensitive to what Steve is going through right now!"

As I sat there reviewing Steve's statement in my head, I think I was most surprised by the line, "This is by no means performance based." I was under the impression that my performance was in fact terrible. This was a very positive development for me.

Susan informed me that she would have someone collect my personal effects as I was not allowed to go back to my desk. She also offered to call me a taxi as this was surely a "very emotional situation" for me. I assured her that it wasn't, and when some guys who I had never seen before returned with my stuff and the remnants of my breakfast, I was on my way. Just like that.

As I rode home on the subway eating my last few pieces of cantaloupe, I began the long process of introspection that continues to this day. What am I meant to do with my professional life? How do I find a job where I can use my skills and interests to their fullest? Who is the soft drink "Dr. Pepper" named after, and what is he a doctor of?

In a roundabout way, this experience has also led me to think about the power and nature of prayer. Sometimes when we pray, our "wishes" are granted, and sometimes they aren't (our prayers are always answered of course -- sometimes the answer is just "no"). And other times, even when we don't realize it, we are in fact "praying," and the things that we had secretly been wishing for might come true, whether we like it or not.

It was no secret that I didn't like my job. My family knew it, my friends knew, even the internet knew. Likewise, God of course knew, and I guess he decided that if I wasn't going to quit, then he was going to fire me. Note to God: Thanks for the severance.

The only question left for me is: what do I do now? Of course I believe that the situation that I now find myself in is for the best. One day I will look back on my "rightful dismissal" and be pleased that it happened. But when will that be? In a few months from now when I have found a job that suits me? Or in 50 years from now when I finally learn an important lesson about...something. I don't know.

But I do know that along with doing all of the traditional things a job seeker must do, like sending out resumes and networking, I will have to pray too. After all, prayer is what got me into this "mess" in the first place, and I know it will have a hand in getting me out of it.

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