Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Not You, It's My Fear Of You

I had such a great belly laugh this afternoon. It’s amazing what people do when they feel threatened and are given a little power. What made me laugh this morning was news of my friend being fired from her job. I’m not cold and heartless…let me explain. She was fired by someone, who although they’re the COO of the company she works for, he has no right, power, authority to fire anyone. Within 5 minutes of arriving at work, he asked to speak to her in the hallway with the HR rep present (who was also confused and dumbfounded) and was told she was no longer an employee at the company and just as quickly he ran back inside the office. Apparently said COO failed to remember what his duties were and the relationship the newly “unemployed” had with the owner of the company. There has been tension brewing between the two parties for months. Her rise and increase in responsibilities and duties, and his increasing feelings of ineptness and uselessness. Right now, a paid day off is the reward until the situation is figured out. My guess, someone’s gotta go.

This is not going to work out between the two of you

On Saturday, my brother called me and before he started talking I said, “You got fired.” I had started a few of our previous conversations with those three words in question form. He recently got promoted to assistant manager at the supermarket he works for. It took him 18 months to go from stock boy to that position. And those who watched his climb were none too happy. They may have also sensed that although he was good at his job, it was just a job to him. He has future goals and current bills. His asst. manager stint was in a new store within the chain. He’d be working under a woman who’s been working there for 25 years. The thought of that is unfathomable to him – “25 years in a supermarket, Abbie?” he asked. Some people get comfortable… but then we got back to the issue at hand. This same supervisor said to him on his first day that he was there to “take her job”, other coworkers told him she was a backstabber and other supervisors were aware she didn’t do any work or do it well but she had seniority; he’s upset because he was “thrown under the bus” and blamed for work not getting done on her shift. She went to numerous supervisors to complain. He ended up being fired. But the numbers don’t lie and to totally be without him would be more of a detriment to them. So instead of an outright termination he was demoted to a “floater” position, almost equivalent to a substitute teacher.

He can’t understand all the politics in a supermarket. “Kid, there’s politics everywhere, especially if you’re dealing with people’s money.”

Silence for a minute while he processed what I said.

Then the Kid I know came back, “You what people keep telling me? ‘You can’t be so confident.’” And he laughed. I said confidence is good. He elaborated. “I like to talk trash. And then when I talk trash, I gotta back it up. But it’s easy cause I’m good.”

Now I’m rolling my eyes on the other end of the phone. “There’s confidence and then there’s cocky, little boy.”

He schooled me on his affliction – T.O. syndrome. When Terrell Owens was in his prime, no other wide receiver could touch him. He could talk trash and back it up. He’s definitely getting into the Hall of Fame one day.

I asked my brother if he wanted to be in the [supermarket chain] Hall of Fame. Yeah, he snapped back to reality.

He’s still adjusting to the southern non-confrontational, passive-aggressive mentality he’s witnessed/experienced. And he’s also become aware of that behavior coming from white people he works with. This happened when he first started at that company. He’s used to saying what’s on his mind and folks doing the same to him. He’s also not used to the office politics. Why not reward the person doing well and punish those that aren’t? Because you’re the “new kid”, the “rookie”, you’re “too big for your britches” (he liked that because they actually say “britches” down there) and in your job or career, some fights aren’t worth fighting, let your work speak for itself.

The back stabbing is new to him.

It happens everywhere. The rookie comes in, is really good or better than the old guard who may not be ready or just not want to give up the reins and they give you hell. My brother went back to his old job (where they hired TWO people to do the job he was doing) to tell them the news and to get some moral support. Everyone told him in their own way that it happened for a reason. When he first took the job the plan was to get some business, customer service, management, sales and marketing experience and open his own business. He’s back on track.

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