A telephone call started me thinking about people who do not go away quietly once they’ve been dismissed. Sometimes it is pathetic; other times it’s noble.
Firing a friend
I was out running errands yesterday and didn’t notice that I had a message on my mobile phone. It was from a former friend who I fired many years ago.
I fired her not because she is a bad person, but because she is so immature and self-absorbed, that she can only talk about herself. She revisits every perceived slight she has received and retells the story again and again. And again.
It is impossible to have a conversation with her. If you try to interject something that follows the thread of what she is saying, she stops speaking long enough to let you speak and then goes back to whatever she had been saying. A vacation together is torture. She only stops talking when she is sleeping. Thank goodness she doesn’t talk in her sleep.
When I did take her calls, she would talk so incessantly that I could put the phone down, let the dog out for a few minutes, bring him back in and give him fresh water, and finally go back to the phone where she was still talking.
I finally decided to stop taking her calls and not return her messages. This, I reasoned, would get the message across without hurting her feelings.
I was wrong.
She apparently doesn’t understand the 3-Message Rule: If you call someone and leave three messages that they don’t return, they don’t want you for a friend.
This was perhaps the 100th message that she’s left over several years. I just delete them without listening to them now.
I don’t like being rude to people, but I do have to save my sanity. I could just come out and tell her to stop calling me, but she probably wouldn’t hear me, so I’ll install a call blocker on my cell phone. Maybe that will work.
Firing an employee
I saw a similar characteristic in a woman I once worked with and I did not think her clueless–I though her wise.
I worked for a software company that had developed a very nice software application for businesses. It was a purchasing system for manufacturing. They made a few sales to some very big clients but the software was targeted to such a small audience, that they didn’t have many sales.
They did, however, have a woman in sales who actually did sell the software! We stayed in business for a few years thanks to her. Unfortunately, management didn’t like her. She was (gasp) from France! She was (gasp! gasp!) very direct and said exactly what she thought. Worse of all, she spoke with a French accent (Oh, the horror!) and that just could never be, management thought. She wasn’t American enough for them. So they did what any narrow-minded, pea-brained, xenophobic misogynist would do.
They fired her.
They told her on a Friday that her services were no longer needed. They gave her some papers to sign, which she refused to do. Never mind, they thought, the deed is done. She’s history.
When they came back to the office on Monday morning, they found her sitting at her desk making sales calls.
So, they called her into the conference room and explained the situation to her. She had been fired. That meant she no longer had a job. She shouldn’t be coming to the office any more.
“You had no reason to fire me,” she told them. “It can’t be for poor performance. You have four salespeople and the other three, who you have on salary for some reason, haven’t made a sale in over two years. Thanks to my sales, you are still in business.
“It can’t be because I’m a woman, because your country has laws against discrimination that even apply to me.
“It can’t be because my clients dislike me because they sent me beautiful flowers on my birthday and invite me to their homes for dinner when I am in town.
“You have made a mistake,” she told them. “I believe you realize it and don’t know how to resolve it. You think if I just go away quietly, the problem will go away with me, but you are wrong. I will not go away quietly.”
She continued to come to work every day. She made calls to our clients. She even made another sale.
Management knew they had completely mishandled the situation, so they just gave up trying to convince her that she was fired.
Eventually, the company was sold and most of the management team was fired. She stayed on long enough to drink a toast to them at their going-away parties and then she resigned. I believe she is living in Paris now.
And they are not.