The Consulting Writer

aka The Frazzled Mom

Unpopular (daily prompt): Fired Over Paperclips

When I saw the description “Tell us about a time when you had to choose between two options, and you picked the unpopular choice.”, I thought, This is the story of my life….making the unpopular choice.

Rather than telling of every unpopular decision I’ve made, I’ll tell of one pivotal one that lead me to the career I’m in today.

My very first job, and love, was working at an animal hospital. But when the pay was not increased (no doubt due to my young age of 16), I decided to seek employment elsewhere. I ended up working at a software retail store until it went out of business and then bounced from job to job through temp agencies. One of those jobs led me to work for a stocks/securities company.

At this place of business, I found myself salaried, but working from 7am – 9pm most days (and yes, being paid for only 8 hours). I was young, and my work ethic told me to continue on even though I was being taken advantage of. My boss was a tyrant (and hereafter will be referred as such). It seemed most nights were spent going through employee desks, only to leave us notes of the work we already knew we needed to do, work that we couldn’t finish one day and were planning on finishing the next.

Everyday was the same. I would come in early, turn on my computer and sit down with a sigh. Covering my desk would be piles of papers, each with a colorful sticky note, giving me instructions as if I were a three year old. I took it in stride. That is to say….I tossed the notes and did the work I already knew I had to do. I never pointed out the lack of efficiency show by these notes, the waste of time.

One of the employees, a woman in her sixties, not only had her usual job, but was also in charge of the reception desk and the ordering of new supplies. At times, she would tell me how she was stuck in reception, but couldn’t even leave to go to the restroom for fear of backlash from the tyrant. Unpopular choice #1: I decided to help. I had her forward the phones to me while she went to the bathroom. Yeah….I was yelled out for that, but you know what? I didn’t care. I explained to the tyrant that a few minutes to pee,  with me answering the phones, was better than a recurring bladder infection for this employee.

A few days, or weeks later….doesn’t really matter. By that point, I didn’t care for the job. Again, my work ethic told me to stick it out. So I did.

The same older woman came over to me asking if I had paperclips. I showed her a small box I had in my drawer. She noted that the supply cabinet was out and she decided to order more. When the order was seen by the tyrant, she nearly had a stroke. She yelled at the woman. Then, she proceeded to open the drawers of every employee in the office and dig out their box of paper clips to prove that none needed to be ordered. Uh….okay. The older woman was devastated.

Unpopular choice #2: I spoke in defense of the woman. I explained to the tyrant that the point of the supply cabinet was to keep it stock at all times. Yes, each employee had a box of paperclips, but when they ran out, the employee would go to……the supply cabinet!

Perhaps I didn’t word it exceptionally well. So what happened next?

The tyrant asked me into her office so she could scream at me. After refusing to sit down or close the door (I wanted the office to hear), I was told to leave and go back to work. The next day, I was fired. I know why I was fired. I had challenged the tyrant’s authority and, like an overbearing and over reactive parent, she fired me. The funny thing? She didn’t do it. She had her husband do it instead. Wow…true cowardice.

So, now you understand the title. When I begin this story, I always say, “Let me tell you about the time I was fired over paperclips.”

Where am I now?  I truly believe being fired happened for a reason. I ended up finding a career as a Cancer Registrar. What is that? Oh…that is a story for another day. If you are truly curious, Google it. 🙂


2 comments on “Unpopular (daily prompt): Fired Over Paperclips

  1. cynthiadumarin
    December 22, 2012

    Great story. I too worked for a tyrant in my younger years, a bully who screamed at me in a McDonald’s when I gave a customer a ketchup packet he asked me for. The manager went wild over the loss of his “two cents profit.” Needless to say I didn’t last, though I wasn’t fired, but waited until my next scheduled shift, then handed him my uniform and quit.


  2. thehappyhugger
    December 23, 2012

    What an unhappy person your boss must have been, not only was she a bully but a coward too. It is so though, sometimes these things happen for a reason. Good for you for standing up to her.


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