You’re Fired! The Worst Stories Of Being Fired On The Planet
President Trump became an international celebrity for trademarking the two words every worker dreads hearing: “You’re fired!” Over the course of fourteen seasons of The Apprentice, Trump said “you’re fired” to personalities ranging from Omarosa to Meat Loaf to my personal hero, Snooki.
Getting fired happens to the best of us. Whether it’s because of an international merger, revenue stream issues, or because your personality just isn’t a good fit for the workplace, almost everyone finds themselves hearing those two powerful words at least once in their lives. Back in the good old days, companies would notify you in advance that they were letting you go, giving you a merciful grace period. But in the 21st century, job security has become a thing of the past, and getting fired could be just around the corner at any moment!
Confession time: I was “let go” via text-message twenty minutes before work. I immediately changed into my sweats and spent the rest of the day with my two BFFs, Ben and Jerry’s.
Last Friday, I had a heart to heart with a coworker about our dramatic experiences getting laid off. After we wiped off our tears, we came up with the amazing idea of asking our millions of readers to submit their own experiences of being told, “You’re fired!” We decided to share the best submissions as a way of simulating a moment of collective catharsis. Stick to the end to see who won! Enjoy!
“The Email Thread From Hell” – Tiffany (New York City, New York)
In my early 20s, I was a personal assistant for the CEO of an international bank. Even though our office was located in the Freedom Tower, this job didn’t come with much freedom; I regularly worked twelve hour shifts and rarely had time off. One day, my boss gave me access to one of my superior’s emails because she was in the Hamptons for the week. I was given the simple assignment of setting up an auto-reply notifying people trying to contact her that she was away on vacation. I accidentally scrolled down her inbox and discovered an email thread discussing how I was going to get fired. The subject headline was “We Absolutely Have to Fire Tiffany Before Christmas.” It was the email thread from hell.
I spent an entire week in nervous anticipation. Finally, on Monday, I was called into my boss’s office for a “chat.” I originally moved to New York to become a Broadway actress so masking my feelings is easy for me; the line between my performances and reality has always been blurred. As I stared out the window and into the Hudson River abyss, I pretended like I didn’t see any of it coming. My boss waxed poetic about my failures while I just stood there, stoic and dignified. Right when he uttered the words “you’re fired,” all my bottled up emotions were released and I began sobbing. Sometimes the truth doesn’t set you free.
“I Was Drowning” – Meredith (Brattleboro, Vermont)
In 2004, I was a recent college graduate still living at home and still optimistic that I would find a job in my local area. I volunteered and did shelving at my local library, so I figured I had sufficient experience to apply for a job as a Librarian’s Assistant in a very small public library in the next town over. I interviewed well and got the job. I was delighted until it became clear that this position allowed me no flexibility. My supervisor insisted on the morning checklist (unlocking library doors, changing the tape in the server, turning on coffee and copying machines, etc.) being done EXACTLY in order every time. Then she objected to me coming in early because it meant she’d had to pay me extra. Then I was reprimanded for being at the desk when there was shelving to be done. When I was shelving, she would find me and tell me to go back to the desk to check out books. I couldn’t seem to be in the right place at any given time! Soon I felt like I was walking on eggshells, always afraid of earning myself another round of criticism if I did the slightest thing wrong. It took me all of two weeks to feel like I was drowning, and rather than offer me any encouragement, my supervisor said she was worried about me. With such a vote of confidence, my morale got as much of a boost as you’d expect.
I was depressed and wondered if I could quit a job less than three months in. Finally, one morning I called my supervisor to beg for a day off, since I’d had a very tough rehearsal the night before and felt the need for some recovery time. She was not terribly understanding about it and asked me to come in early the next day. The next morning, I arrived with a reasonable belief that I was going to be fired. Sure enough, she led me to a table and asked me “So, how do you think you’re doing here?” (That is ALWAYS a trick question, and there is no good way to answer it!). I said I thought I was still struggling “a little.” Her: “I think you’re struggling A LOT.” Then she expounded all the ways in which I was a total failure at the job, in a tone like she couldn’t even believe how inept I was. While none of this was in any way completely out of the blue, I still had to sit there and take quite the ego-bruising. By the time she was done telling me how fired I was, I was getting teary. But then she told me I could leave out the back door, and a big part of me went “NO.” I said as much out loud and left the way I came in–through the front doors. I have never looked back, nor have I taken any more library jobs since then.
I learned two lessons that day: 1) Do your research and see what kind of jobs best suit your skill set and personality before applying. 2) If you get fired anyway, never exit via the back. Go out the front with your head as high as possible.
“The Last Supper” – Josh (Los Angeles, California)
When I was 16, I worked at an up and coming sandwich chain called Which Which. We were famous for our buffalo chicken sandwiches, milkshakes and cookie sandwiches. My boss made us tell customers to order all three; he called it “The Jackpot Combo of Customer Coercion.” In general, my boss had a big brother vibe to him. He would often secretly watch us, using a legally dubious security camera that streamed to his laptop. I mainly flew under the radar; I always showed up on time, tried my best to get the customers to order “The Jackpot Combo” and followed orders. Everything was going well until two months into my job. During the weekend of Coachella, instead of telling my boss I was attending, I simply decided to go AWOL. David Guetta was playing and being an EDM aficionado, I had to go. Since I was 16, I figured that most people don’t show up to work every now and then so it wouldn’t be “that big of deal.”
(A GIF of a concert that is similar to the one I went to)
The Monday after Coachella, I went back to work and noticed that my boss was acting weird. He told one of my coworkers to fix me up “The Jackpot Combo of Customer Coercion” and then invited me to go outside with him. After a few seconds of awkward silence, he looked down at me and told me to start eating. Being a nervous lanky teen, I followed his orders. He took out a pack of Newport Menthols and blew smoke in my face as I ate.
Right as I swallowed the last bit of my Oreo milkshake, he said in between puffs of Menthol. “Do you like the Jackpot Combo?”
I quivered. “Sure…”
He roared. “Well, I hope so because it’s your last supper. Get the hell out of my shop and never come back!”
And The Winner Is….
“I Made A Big Scene”-Omar Al-Kafir ( Portland, Oregon)
I was in Middle School, and my uncle opened a little fast food stand in the local bowling alley in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I worked there for free, but he paid for my bowling. I would fry chicken nuggets and fries, make burgers, and serve soda. One time, there was a birthday party for a bunch of kids my age. I even knew some of them. I was literally the only one taking, making, and serving the dozens of orders. I had just finished with my last order of nuggets, and was walking towards the customer when a group of kids turned to me and started berating my cooking. They said the nuggets tasted like cardboard and the burgers weren’t edible.So I took that order of nuggets and threw them at their table. I told them they could make their own damn food. Then I ran behind the bowling lanes and started crying. I made a big scene.The bowling operators had to shut down the alleys so that I wouldn’t get hurt. My uncle found out, and promptly (but gently) fired me, realizing that one kid couldn’t possibly run an entire restaurant.
The restaurant closed a couple weeks later.