Fired, But I Don’t Know Why

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about crude boss : She would reprimand me only when there was someone else present, never when we were alone

My boss was extremely rude to me after about a week starting at this new job. I got (what I felt was) close to my co-worker. She would tell me all the stories about the boss about how rude she would be to past employees and even her. I started noticing the rudeness towards myself and even some customers. She would reprimand me only when there was someone else present, never when we were alone (which there was plenty of opportunity).

When I would greet customers EXACTLY as she asked me to, she would interrupt me in front of them and take over. Then, she would change everything she had told me. She would make things up on the spot almost as if just to mess with me and my performance. Then, when I tried to do anything she’d be sure to have something to say that I did wrong. She then told me to learn the cash register. I went in on a Saturday just for this reason. So I began using it regularly but suddenly I got in trouble for using it. She just decided I needed to do it supervised, even though I did nothing wrong and made NO mistakes. She would call me to to talk to her in front of customers and my coworker, to put me on the spot and explain to her why I am so slow at wrapping gifts or afraid to greet customers (which obviously was because she’d always change her mind about how I was supposed to do it).

She went away for a week and I was there alone with one other worker. I tried my very best to learn while she was gone and really just learned about how awful a boss she has always been. I didn’t want this to change the fact that I wanted to succeed and prove her wrong that I could do this job. Towards the end of the week, she called the store and I was told to answer it because it was her.

Usually I would answer with the store name and then my own, but since I knew it was her I said, “Hello! how are you?” silence. I said “hello?” She said, …”Um (me), this is (her), uhhhh” I was like, “I know it’s you, thats why I answered the way I did” she (with a snotty attitude) said, “Oh, well you really threw me. That was weird.” She proceeded to tell me all the things I had done wrong during the week. Everything she said was totally false and I was left to “answer for myself” and was completely confused and unsure how to respond since everything she said was news to me.

The worst part happened when she got home. I was scheduled to work at 11. She called me at about 9. Here’s how the conversation went…”Hi (me) This is (her). I see absolutely no reason for us to continue.” I politely said, “Ok, why?” and it was like I fed a monster! She went completely off on me with all these crazy accusations that really upset me.

She said, “Of all my years in business and as a lawyer (which was completely irrelevant to the job I had working for her), I have NEVER met anyone as useless and untrainable as you. You are lazy; you cry when I give you ‘criticism’ and you will never function in this world. You will never be successful. You didn’t do anything right and you are just completely untrainable. So go cry about it to your mommy!”

At that point I hung up. I know for a fact that everything she said was ridiculous, but I can’t help but get upset about this. Would you say this is out of line or must I have deserved such insults?

Signed, Still Hurting

Dear Still Hurting:

You don’t say if this person is the owner of the business or an employee. If she is not the owner, it seems to me you have nothing to lose by at least having an exit interview with the owner or someone higher in the organization. Perhaps others would like to know how she treats employees and how she drags customers into it. If you had it to do over again there are probably some things you could improve about the way you handled the situation. That doesn’t make it your fault, it just means there might have been ways to calm things a bit.

First, you don’t mention talking to your manager about your work and expressing your embarrassment about being chided in front of customers. It probably wouldn’t have done any good, but at leasat you would have made the attempt.I also think you were in error to trust a coworker to the point of talking badly about the boss. It sounds as though a coworker told on you while the boss was gone, doesn’t it? There may have been a lot of temptation to talk about her, but next time avoid it in order to avoid giving others something to report you about.

It also sounds as though being fired was inevitable after a short amount of time there. You’re probably much better off without that job and that person in your life. That’s easy for me to say because you”re the one looking for new employment. But at least now you have experience with a cash register, with sales and with other aspects of this work.

Hopefully you can use that for the next place.If you had other work before this one, you may want to just leave this bad experience off your resume. If you need to show the work experience, you probably should be prepared for a poor reference, which could create a problem until you can wipe it out with better work in a new position. Consider finding something temporary that you know you can succeed in, and that can be used for a positive resume.You ask if the way your boss talked to you in that last conversation when she fired you was out of line or was it an indicator that you deserved the insults. I don’t think there would ever be a situation where it would be effective to tear someone apart the way she did to you, if she said what you described. I can easily see why you were hurt and upset.

I wish there was something to make you feel better about it right away, but it will probably take some time. Even if it were true that you were not as good an employee as she had wanted and expected and she was frustrated and disappointed (and I’m not saying that was true, but even if it was), there is never a reason for demeaning someone and insulting them as she did you. I’m hoping she was completely mistaken about you. If so, she was just capping off her program of being vindictive and hateful. If there was a bit of truth and you just weren’t a good fit for the job, she still was wrong. However, it will give you something to work on before your next job.In either case, the only thing to regret is that you didn’t get to quit before you were fired.

If there is anyone above the problem manager, you may want to let them know how she is reputed to treat people and how she treated you. If you think it won’t make a difference then maybe you just need to move on and leave her to make the lives of others miserable. (They apparently have learned to deal with it.)Whatever you do, I hope you’ve learned some lessons about yourself, your communications, how you want to treat people and what you will do in the future if a situation like this starts to develop.Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.