Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Well kids, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, now I have more time to blog!  The not-so-good news is that I got fired from my dream job at Squish. 

I was completely devastated.  I never saw it coming.  And even a month later, they still have not given me any legitimate reason why.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I can be quite vocal when I'm pissed off (LUBABA!!).  This blog has been a cathartic outlet for me over the years, so I thought I would blow the dust off my keyboard and spew some venom about the bullshit that went down between me and my boss Megan.

After my shift on Wednesday, February 9th, I was told that Katie, the store's assistant manager, wanted to talk to me.  I couldn't imagine why Katie would come in on her day off just to talk to me, but I didn't think anything of it.  She and I sat on a bench, and she said "We're... um... letting you go."  I asked why, and she said, "Well, you aren't really here very much..." I asked her what exactly she meant by that, and she said it meant that I didn't work a lot of shifts.  Katie's the one who made the schedules, by the way. 

Katie and Megan had both apologized many times to the entire staff for not being able to give us more hours. In fact, I was sent home on January 27th when we were 8% over in labor (which Megan hadn't checked until I was literally standing in front of her, waiting to clock in). I can't believe that my working one shift a week would be a fireable offense, when I know that there are people on the payroll who work even less than I do.

Katie went on to say that when I was at work, it "always seemed that I wanted to be somewhere else." I objected immediately to the vague, unquantifiable nature of the allegation and to the complete lack of documented evidence suporting it. I asked why no one had said anything to me about it, since something like a sudden change in attitude might warrant a conversation, it certainly is not in itself grounds for dismissal. I asked Katie if there was any possibility that I could talk to Megan directly and maybe work something out, and Katie said no, this was a done deal, adding that Megan had specifically orchestrated things so that Katie would be the one to fire me while Megan was out of town at a Managers' Meeting.

Katie then said, "plus you ask for a lot of time off..." I asked for my 40th birthday weekend off in January, another night for a concert, and for February 10-14th because my parents were coming in town to surprise my kids. I didn't ask for time off during the holidays because we weren't allowed to. Since my hours were minimal anyway, I didn't see any problem with asking not to be scheduled on specific days. It had never been a problem before. If it was a problem, they could have just not approved my request, no big deal, and maybe spoken to me about it. So, again, I want to restate that every single reason I was given as to why I was let go, (which, if you're following along at home, are that I don't work enough shifts; I don't seem to want to be there; and I ask for too much time off) was completely fabricated and bogus.

But the final blow was yet to come. Katie put the termination paper in front of me which listed "Performance" as the reason for my termination. I was flabbergasted.

I have an excellent work record. I believe the one time I was actually formally written in the Coaching Binder was for cutting soap incorrectly, and after the coaching, it never happened again. I was consistently a top seller.  I had never once been written up for my performance. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but to my knowledge I was never secret-shopped or the subject of a customer complaint. I am rarely, if ever, late to work. In fact, I have a reputation for showing up early. I've come in when other people were sick, and have never bailed on a shift I was scheduled to work. When it was announced that Katie was leaving to follow a guy to Cleveland, I even offered to take on more responsibility. If it seemed like I don't want to be there, all I can say is that it's difficult for any of us to stay motivated on the countless days when we work five and six-hour shifts without the 15-minute break required by SQUISH (and by Federal Law) when it feels like no one by our shop.

I know I was great at that job, y'all. I brought a fun, unique spirit to the store. I contributed creative party ideas and I always promoted and participated in store events. I turned customers into fans because they could see my sincerity when I educated them about the products and what makes them so amazing. Megan herself said that I was the only person on our staff who could sell things without making it seem to the customer like I was selling. She told me a few times that I was everyone's favorite to work with and that she didn't know what they would do without me.

It pissed me off sooo bad that Performance was on my record as the reason for my termination. I didn't deserve that.  If they had just told me that they had to cut back employees because the store wasn't making enough to support the full staff anymore, I could have accepted that.  I would even have stepped aside voluntarily, for the good of the company.  But for some reason, Megan felt that she needed to make this about something else.

I wrote a letter to HR stating that I wanted Performance to be removed as the reason for my termination, due to the lack of supporting documentation and because it is in no way an accurate assessment of the quality of my work. I have been told that my request had been honored, but I don't know what is now on my record instead.  My letter to HR also stated that Megan fired me without cause and did not follow company policy.  I wish I could have added my own theory as to why Megan decided I was no longer SQUISH material, because I certainly have one.  Pay attention.  

On Monday, February 1st, Megan called me at home to see if I wanted to pick up a shift on Wednesday the 3rd.  Megan started out, as she had many times before, by saying "Sarah, you're the only one who can do this." I said that it made me very uncomfortable whenever she begins a conversation that way because I always feel like she's backing me into a corner and I can't say no. She hounded me for a reason as to why I declined to take the shift. My reason was simply that it was supposed to snow all day Tuesday and Wednesday and it seemed pretty likely that my kids would be home from school. Megan snapped, "Oh, it's MONDAY, you already know they're going to be off on WEDNESDAY?!!?"

I said I was feeling pressured to do something I didn't really want to do, and Megan's response was "It sounds like you just don't want to be here. Do we need to have a conversation about you not wanting to be here?" I answered no, because I didn't not want to be there. It wasn't as though I was calling in and saying I wasn't coming in to work my scheduled shift because I just didn't feel like it. Everyone else had been given the opportunity to say no, but because I was the last person she called - and she began the conversation by telling me that everyone else had already said no - what choice did I have? Had I known then that this would be the only time anyone would offer to have a conversation with me to discuss my future at the company, I would have taken them up on it.

I even asked Megan if I could say no, and she said that I could, so I said "Then, no." I can not think of a single time over the last 15 months when I have said no to her.  If  she'd said "Sure you can say no, but your employment status might be affected", which would have been extremely unprofessional (and probably illegal), I might have thought about it a little longer, but ultimately my choice would have been the same.  My kids come first.  Period.  She knew I had kids before she even interviewed me.  

Not only did she put me in a spot where I felt like I was being forced to choose between my job and my kids, but she was downright nasty about it. She didn't even say Please. I said no because I wasn't willing to take on the responsibility of leaving my kids at home alone and driving to work on a day that the National Guard was urging people to stay off the roads. I should have the right to do that without being penalized, let alone fired. If I was the last person she called, that essentially means that everybody else got the opportunity to say no. I should have the same right, shouldn't I? 

Here's some important backstory:  In October, Megan called me sobbing after she realized that Dexter, the $800 puppy she planned to co-parent with a guy who lived 45 minutes away, might have been a bad idea. I was out with my family watching Beebie's band perform at a football game when I spent nearly an hour talking her down from the ledge. I offered to do whatever I could to be helpful, as anyone would do when their boss calls them out of the blue, crying and hysterical. A few members of the staff stayed longer than our scheduled shifts several times so that she could take care of Dexter. I didn't complain when she took a two-hour lunch to let him outside. I ended up driving over to her apartment on my days off and letting him out, at her request, no fewer than four times. The last time she called on me to let Dexter out on Novermber 3rd, I was at an event at Tito and Pie's school. I actually left Parents Day to let her dog out because she told me she had already asked everyone she knew. In fairness, she didn't ask me to leave immediately, but I had to in order to be able to have it work with the amount of time I had available to help her through a personal crisis.

The one time I can recall asking Megan for a little bit of accommodation at the last minute was the week before Thanksgiving, the day after I had to take Pie to the ER with blood in his urine. I explained to Megan that blood in the urine is a major situation, given his birth defect. I asked if I could come in either earlier or later than I was scheduled since I needed to take Pie to see his urologist, and Megan mentioned that it would make things difficult for her because there was a major shipment due in that day. I got Speed Racer to rearrange his schedule and to take Pie the doctor for me so that I could work my scheduled shift and so Megan would not be scrambling.  You're welcome. 

Imagine how horrified I was to learn that my commitment to the company was being called into question.

It might have been a week or two after Pie's ER incident when Katie pulled me aside to ask how I was doing, since working four and five days a week during Holiday (including back-to-back midnight shifts) when I'm used to working two or three days a week was clearly taking a toll on me physically and mentally. I don't deny that I was going through a difficult time in my personal life and as hard as I tried to keep it from affecting my work, it did. But I felt like Megan cared about me as a person enough to ask what was going on with me, or at least to have someone else ask me what was going on with me. Katie offered me the opportunity to take fewer shifts, and specifically told me that I take on too much and I need to say no more often. I agreed to take fewer shifts, and once the holidays were over, I honestly thought I was doing much better. No one told me otherwise until I was handed my termination paper.

When I questioned the legitimacy of the claim that my performance was unacceptable, Katie offered me no specific examples, saying only that it was what Megan had told her to write. I kept asking Katie why Megan pulled a punk move and did not confront me herself, using proper corrective action, instead of instructing someone else to fire me immediately when I had had no previous record of inadequate performance.  All Katie would say is "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."  Yeah, right.

Here's the bullshit factor - every employee should know that it is SQUISH's policy to use coaching first and termination as a last resort in extreme cases when all other options have been exhausted. According to the employee handbook, SQUISH believes in "a progressive, corrective-action-warning system consisting of one verbal/written and two written warnings, after which termination will take place - for any employee, at any time."

I can see no professional reason why I was fired. None. I didn't violate any store or company policies, and if my performance was truly substandard, no one bothered to document it. The fact that I was fired (after fifteen months of service) so soon after the first time I told Megan no suggests to me that there could be some personal subtext.  I gave you guys the facts, and you can draw your own conclusion.

Seriously, there is absolutely no corrective performance-related documentation on my record. I think it's so ridiculous that she allowed me to work my last five-hour shift as scheduled, but had already made the decision that my performance had suddenly become so poor that you had to bypass proper channels and fire me immediately...and yet I'm considered rehireable. What's the logic behind that?  Personally, I think Megan kept me rehireable so she could call on me, yet again, if she needs a favor.  Fuck that. You burned this bridge, honey.  I'm nobody's bitch. 

I don't want it to sound like I'm talking shit about SQUISH. I'm not. I love SQUISH. I wish I still worked there, and it's complete bullshit that I don't get to, when I'm not the one who didn't follow the rules. 

So, my lovelies, I've missed you all and I'm incredibly sorry for neglecting you.  I know I've staged triumphant comebacks before, but I'm hoping that I'll be spending more time updating you on what's happening in my always-fascinating life.  Won't that be fun?