You’re Being Isolated

| Working | July 8, 2016

(I am 22 and have just gotten hired as a student at a pet-care facility. I am very excited about working with the cats and with my mom, who had been there for almost ten years. I am frequently complimented on how quick I catch on and on my work ethic. My first evaluation goes well, though I do have a couple things to improve, as I’m still fairly new. I acknowledge what I need to work on, and we end our evaluation on a positive note. I continue to get compliments on my work and even start to develop a good friendship with the other students. My next evaluation is only positive feedback. Six months in, I am randomly stopped in the hallway by my team leader…)

Team Leader: “[My Name], can I talk to you for a minute?”

Me: *judging by the tone, I assume we’re going to her office and I start that direction and grow confused when she doesn’t move to follow* “Sure, what do you need?”

Team Leader: “Look, the other two supervisors aren’t particularly happy with some of the feedback they’ve gotten about you. They’ve heard that you talk more than you work, and you’ve been skipping tasks on the student list that you don’t want to do. They wanted to fire you, but I talked them out of it. So, for the next three weeks, you’re on probation. If we hear any more complaints, then I’m afraid we’ll have to let you go.”

(I simply nod. I am very embarrassed, as anyone could have overheard our conversation, though thankfully the hallway is empty. I start working even harder to keep my job. I check in with my team leader frequently to see how I am doing, and it is all positive, with no complaints. I’m even commended by my team leader for having such a positive attitude. Two months later, long after the probation period was supposed to have ended, I am in the middle of watering the cats for the morning when my team leader stops me…)

Team Leader: “Hey, would you mind coming with me for a minute?”

Me: *not thinking anything of it* “Sure, let me just finish watering this row—“

Team Leader: *interrupting* “You can leave the water.”

(I am now very nervous, as my team leader has never been that short with me. I have no idea what’s going on as she leads me to HR. The HR rep that did my paperwork is at her desk with an odd expression on her face. My team leader asks me to sit.)

Team Leader: “You remember the conversation we had about not receiving any more complaints about you?”

Me: *confused* “You mean the temporary probation I was given?”

Team Leader: “Well, we’ve received emails from over ten different employees over the last few weeks stating how you’re rude, abrasive, skip tasks, and generally just don’t do a very good job. Unfortunately, because of our last conversation, we have to terminate your contract.”

(I am shocked speechless. No one has said anything to me about my work slipping, and I’ve certainly never gotten a complaint that I was rude or abrasive. I am also very confused as to who all the complaints came from, as I only work directly with five or six people. I am mostly upset that I had not even been given a chance to refute the claims.)

Team Leader: “Do you have any questions for us?”

Me: “I don’t understand; what tasks was I skipping?”

Team Leader: “Apparently sweeping and mopping in the room you work in was a common one.”

Me: “No, because I’m always scheduled on isolation cats…”

(In the circumstance that there are enough people to sweep and mop, it is acceptable and preferred that the person scheduled for isolation skip those two tasks to get started on their job, so long as they ask first. There is only one day a week that I am not scheduled to clean them.)

Team Leader: *rather brusquely* “Well, it was on days you didn’t have isolation; I checked the schedule.”

HR Rep: *looking very unhappy with the decision* “We want you to make it clear to your mom why we are letting you go.”

(I thought the comment odd but nodded numbly, and she walked me out of the building. I called my mom in tears, as it was her day off, to explain what happened. She was very upset, but only became angry when we found out a group of her coworkers had purposefully gotten me fired to try to get her to quit, as her no-nonsense attitude doesn’t sit well with everyone. It’s still the only job I’ve ever been fired from, and though I still miss the cats, I am now in a job that I enjoy and am appreciated in.)

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