Fired —Tom’s Story
What a pain in the ass. Steve, my boss, gave me ten-thousand dollars before he took a leave from the company he owned. He told me he wanted me to make good use of the money. He was gone for three years. I was scared I’d lose his money, so I put it in a safe. When he returned I gave him back his money. He fired me cause I hadn’t put his money to use.
I told people how cruel he was. I got some sympathy but not a job. I still don’t have work. At times I feel like giving up. Sometimes I wish I were dead, like maybe a car would hit me and end my misery.
I told my best friend Mike. Don’t ya know he tells me I’m depressed and I need to see his counselor. A guy named Dr. Doug. Last thing I want is to see some shrink who knows nothing about what it’s like not to have a job. Hell, they’re rich, like all doctors. How’s he gonna help me? Tell me I’m crazy and throw me in a dungeon? Oh, I know, they call them hospitals or rehab centers with euphemistic names like Tranquil Shores. They lure you in by promising they’re gonna fix you. Instead, they take your money, put you in a group of nuts, each member nuttier than the next, then discharge you when your insurance runs out.
What the hell, I know Mike cares about me. Maybe I’m being paranoid. I’ll give this doc a call.
Guess what? The doc didn’t sound so bad, at least not as bad as I’d imagined.
I told him I was depressed cause I couldn’t find a job. I asked him how he was gonna help me find work.
He said he didn’t know. He said we’d have to figure that out together.
I told him I didn’t have any money to pay him. I expected he’d say he was sorry and hang up.
He didn’t. He said I could pay him for the session by power washing his driveway. He’d set me up with the power washer.
I was really surprised—not what I’d expected. I thanked him for figuring out a way I could see him.
He laughed. He said, “Look Tom, we’ve already found you a job!”
I laughed too. At least he has a sense of humor.
When I met with him he checked out whether I was planning to kill myself.
He got it that I wasn’t. He understood my anger at Steve and my pain at not having a job. But he wasn’t a softie, not by a long shot. He confronted me for having stashed the money in a safe and taken it out of circulation. He taught me that money needs to circulate to create wealth. It helped when the doc told me he’d done the same thing. He put his money in a safe deposit box during the inflation in the 1970s. I felt relieved, but only for a moment.
He then confronted me with doing the very thing that I’d accused Steve of doing—stealing. I told Steve he’d stolen his ideas. The doc told me I’d stolen from my coworkers when I got paid while Steve was away. They’d worked hard and I hadn’t.
I could see he was right, but I didn’t like it. I asked myself whether I wanted more counseling. Why do I want to sit here and be confronted with my mistakes and then have to spend my good time power washing his driveway?
The doc leaned toward me. He said I wasn’t the only person who’d attacked someone else because I felt like a victim. He told me he’d wanted to go to Mississippi to kill the men who murdered those three civil rights workers back in the 1960s. He said he’d identified with the civil rights workers. His counselor had confronted him by asking: “Then how would you be any different from the murderers?”
I respected him for admitting he’d had murder in his heart. His story encouraged me: if he could change, I could change. I could let go of my anger toward Steve.
The doc urged me to go out looking for a job, find a company I liked, and even work for free to prove I was worth hiring. For several weeks I looked at companies. Then I decided to go back to the one where I’d worked. Compared to the others, I knew now that’s the company I really liked.
I asked to talk to Steve. I was afraid he wouldn’t see me, but he did. He kinda looked at me suspiciously like what was I up to?
I said I now understood where he was coming from. I told Steve I didn’t get it that companies need profits to hire workers like me. I didn’t grasp the competition, the steep taxes and the unending regulations they face. Steve looked surprised. His eyes widened. I looked him in the eye. Then I told him I deserved to be fired for what I’d done.
His jaw dropped. He broke into a smile and stepped toward me.
Then he surprised me.
He asked, “Do you want your job back?”
I was shocked. It took me a few seconds to recover.
I cried: “Yes!”
We hugged and I wept.
When I next saw the doc I told what had happened. I saw tears come to his eyes. He stood up and shook my hand. He congratulated me and gave me a hug.
It helps to have someone in your corner.
© Doug Welpton, M.D.