Everyone's been fired. At least that's what my mom told me the first time it happened to me. I was sobbing in my car, blubbering into my cell phone (not safe; I'm aware), trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong and what the hell I was supposed to do next. That's right, folks, it was as sharp and personal as any romantic blow off.
After college, I had planned on staying in Texas and saving up for a big move to LA. I had not planned on having such a hard time finding a real job. After a few months of temping and working part-time at the same job I'd had in college, I bit the bullet and moved in with Mom and Dad.
For most people, that would mean moving home. But my parents had left Oklahoma while I was in college so it meant moving to their home in a town where I knew almost no one. After applying for several jobs I was only vaguely qualified for, I got an interview with a financial group.
Run by a trio of glad-handing brothers (Shadrach, Meshach and Abedneg-asshole), they mostly sold annuities to old people. They needed another assistant; I needed a job, which they offered almost immediately after learning what my father did for a living.
As the daughter of a minister, I learned early that there are two types of guys to avoid: the ones who are super into my dad's occupation (I have no interest in being your pious, angelic expectation) and those who are really freaked out by it (if your intentions are so skeezy that you're afraid my dad can damn you eternally, it's not going to work). I never realized that this also applied to workplaces.
During my first week, I noticed that one of my coworkers listened to a local Christian radio station. I had my own office and asked if it was cool for me to also listen to the radio. It was. Then Shadrach walked in and heard whatever lame adult alternative that was streaming from my computer. He half-joked that he didn't know I was "that kind of girl."
Another day, Meshach was helping me find an old file and the subject of TV came up. He said it was hard to find things suitable for his young children to watch in the evenings and I agreed that between all the "CSI" and "Law & Order" spin-offs, there wasn't a lot of family fare on. "And," he said. "You can't turn on the TV without seeing two homosexuals kissing each other." I snorted with laughter. But he wasn't kidding. He sniffed, "Well I guess I'm old fashioned," and I shrugged that I guessed I wasn't.
Over the weeks, I realized that the brothers were surface Christians: very pious on the outside, kind of mean on the inside. There was an elderly man who stopped by with donuts once a week to chat with them for five minutes about his investments. He was lonely and sweet and wore a baseball cap emblazoned with our company's logo. They moaned when the secretary announced his arrival and made fun of him after he left. I reminded myself I wouldn't have to work there forever.
One cloudy afternoon, Meshach called me into his office. The hallways were strangely empty. He broke the news that they loved me as a person (seriously), but that they didn't think this was where I was meant to be long term (seriously). And then asked if I thought this was really where God wanted me (seriously).
All I could think was, I'm never going to make it to LA. And I couldn't shake the shame. I'd been fired.
But as with all break ups with assholes, I soon realized that I was better off. I rebounded with a waitress job at a Bar and Grill, where I learned that (as a rule) bikers are the best tippers and church people are the worst.