Being Fired: “The Car Crash”

You wake up in the morning as you have every morning for the past 24 months and prepare for another day at the job you’ve grown to appreciate and love.  Your fellow employees are easy to get to know and you found your way around the company’s unique language and managerial styles.  (I never heard of “dashboards” or “parking lot” until one meeting and I still don’t know what they’re talking about but it seems very serious.)

Well, how about company’s acronyms like ADC, SNF and ADL’s?

Driving to work you take your time because traffic on this road has a reputation.  Swerve here and pause there is your daily mantra during this 12 mile drive.  Five things roam around your mind that need to be accomplished today while driving.  You smile to yourself because four of them are a cinch and the fifth will take a simple phone call.  You’ve been charged to lead the meetings of seasoned employees who look at you with a doubt in their eyes but you’ve prepared for them and get to the business of those dashboards and parking lots on your large screen TV Excel sheet.  (So many colors and listed items, I wish I was in one of those parking lots right about now.)

You pull into the parking lot (it’s an actual parking lot) and proceed to remove your coat and grab a cup of coffee that you were told in orientation is free for employees.  “It’s a nice perk,” you’ve said to yourself every day for the past two years.

“That meeting’s been cancelled,” your co-worker tells you passing by, “but the director wants to see you.”  “Great,” you reply wondering which dashboard is no longer to be a dashboard.

Smiling, you enter his office and exchange the pleasantries of the day and the pending weather changes.  You’re not married so there are no children to include in this introductory conversation.  He tells you, “It’s just business and that nothing personal should be taken away from this conversation.”  You wonder if that statement was meant for him or for you.  Your car’s just been crashed so you withhold an opinion until the evening and a somber glass of wine.

Blaming questions about yourself follow, all of them dismissed by him.  His eyes look down which in a murder trial would be a deadly sign of guilt but now it’s just the three of you; yourself, your director and your free cup of coffee.  On reflection you remember there’s a fourth presence – those five items that need to be accomplished today.  You recall the company’s philosophy of “excellence and accomplishments” from the slick video and those four energetic speakers during your orientation day.

The driver side of your car has just been hit by some guy.  The airbag wants to expand but that would mean tears which you refuse to release in front of him.  The news on the car radio continues to play as if life continues which, indeed, it has not.  The time of shock of the car’s impact doesn’t match the time on your ticking watch.  His words caused your driver’s door dent which may have totaled your car but you will not know until an estimate is made.

He says it’s effective “right now” and you find it amusing holding half a cup of coffee and wondering who will do those five things that drove you out of bed and into your car and safely to the parking lot (the real one) that morning and will this final half cup of coffee be deducted from your final paycheck?  He extends his hand to you and you wonder if this suave is sincere or if he can quickly end this and receive his next appointment.  You lift yourself out of your damaged driver’s seat wondering where you found the strength.

You smile back to him with the one taught to you in kindergarten that thanked the teacher for showing you that “a” stands for apple but today “a” stands for another word you will say to yourself often walking to your damaged car in the parking lot (the real one).

24 months did not accumulate too much so the box you carry is light but your mind is heavy with the “What if….” questions that contain no answers.  You drive from the parking lot (the real one) and carefully proceed back home, 7 1/2 hours subtracted from the expected day.  A small part of you is eternally happy that he did not say, “This hurts me more than it does you.”  (Thankfully, guns are not allowed in the building.)  The impact of your driver door dent increases and the pain of separating yourself from the other car slowly increases.   Before the imaginary police arrive you think to yourself, “Who will do those five things that I needed to do today and have them done in “excellence and accomplishment?”

There’s got to be a better way… in “excellence and accomplishment.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
This entry was posted in Being Fired, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.