The Joy of Getting Fired

The Joy of Getting Fired

Ever been fired? I have. It was an interesting experience. Can’t say it’s one I’d love to experience again. At the time I was APPALLED! How could I get FIRED? I’m awesome! For any of you who have been “let go” from a job,

{by the way, this is a fancy way for saying you got canned. If anyone from HR ever sits you down and says, “We’re going to have to let you go”, they aren’t freeing you from prison for good behavior. They’re firing you. Freeing you from corporate chains into the prison of poverty. It’s not a good thing… at the time, anyway}

for any of you who’ve been fired, you can attest to the feeling of deflation that accompanies it. Although, at the time I totally knew it was going to happen. That experience, in and of itself, was a bit off putting. However, in context, it was a part of a grander experience that I’ve held tightly to since and I think I always will. And it taught me several valuable lessons. Mostly that it’s never my fault. (Just kidding… sort of.)

I was 22 years old, JUST out of college. I somehow landed a job as a nanny for an Italian family in GENOVA, ITALY!!!!!! for the summer. I’d never been to Europe before. The only real ‘traveling’ I’d done prior to this trip was a 7-day cruise for my 21st birthday with my best friends that involved a 1-hour flight to Miami. This time I was alone. I was leaving my life behind in Atlanta and navigating the world all by myself for the first time ever. It was essentially like taking Mr. Bean and dropping him in the middle of, well, anywhere. Let’s take inventory of the places I’d been up and to this point of my life:

Mississippi
Georgia
Florida
South Carolina
Tennessee

Do you see a pattern? I think I went to Washington, DC once… I was not well travelled by any sense. And I was unleashed on the unsuspecting country of Italy like a hyper squirrel just trying to cross the street.

Before I left for Europe my mom spoke with the couple I was going to work for and live with. Both were judges, they had 5 kids total but I was only responsible for the care of 2 since the others were grown and out of the house. My mom had phone numbers, addresses, pretty much everything you could gather to ensure I wouldn’t get stolen, before the proliferation of the “internets” and during a time when phone booths were still dotting every street corner like hookers at a political convention. It was 2003… AKA The Dark Ages.

My job description was to teach English to an 8-year old and a 14-year old, take the 8-year old to school every day and pick him up, take him to play dates, and some “light housework”. I saw that last part as merely a suggestion. Mostly because I don’t “housework”.

Once I landed, I felt like I “fit in” for the first time in my life. I looked like I belonged. Everyone was laid back and relaxed but animated and nice. The family seemed great. The dad studied law in the US so he spoke English surprisingly well. No one else in the family spoke English but I spoke fluent Italian so it was ok.

He would get maps out and suggest places for me to go and landmarks to visit during the day. Everything was off to a great start.

Not too long after I arrived I realized that the “cute little boy” I was charged with caring for was rotten. He would fake being sick to get out of doing things, like going to play dates. I, not knowing any better, would let him stay home. When his mom got home he would tell her that I didn’t do anything with him. Hmmm…

The dad knew that I REALLY wanted to go to the opera. He landed tickets and asked his wife if she wanted to take me. When she said no, he took me. We had a great time. He explained the story of the opera and told me that even Italians don’t understand the lyrics. However, it was this moment that whatever relationship I had with the mom changed for the worse in a way that I didn’t expect. But it was ok. I was living on the Italian Riviera. No one could make that incredible experience a bad one.

I was supposed to have weekends to myself but that rarely happened. However, when it did I would get on a train and explore. I visited friends who were studying abroad. I met people hiking across Europe with just a backpack. I met Italian business people who had lived in Atlanta at one time. I met beachfront storeowners who danced with me when their favorite love song came on the radio. I met an Italian lifeguard who swept me off my feet.

So one morning when the mom told me she was no longer going to pay me because I hadn’t upheld my part of the contract that involved cleaning (they had a maid, by the way), it was ok. Looking back, I wasn’t very good at being a nanny. But that experience gave me more than that job. I came home after living abroad by myself for 3 months a changed person. I had confidence. I had grand memories that even the best writers wouldn’t be able to describe in a way that would do them justice.

So, yeah, getting fired sucked. But it was just a drop of a memory that was part of a larger experience that I would NEVER trade. Sometimes a bad moment isn’t a bad thing. Have you ever been fired? It’s ok. You can tell me.

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7 thoughts on “The Joy of Getting Fired

  1. Yes, I was fired from the first full time job I had after graduating college. And it was deserved. I was immature. If I had been the manager I later was in another job, I would have fired me, too! I learned, though, and have (I hope!) been an asset in all jobs I’ve had since.

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