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I got fired once in my life. It was for drinking on the job.
And that wasn’t even the worst part.
Two days earlier I had gotten engaged to Sam and my ring was a tiny bit too big. I brought it in to Justin — the jeweler who I knew quite well at this point — to size down. Coincidentally, Justin used to work in the restaurant business, and just so happened to work with my two bosses. Lucky me! He offered to bring the ring to the restaurant at the start of my shift so he could say hello to everyone.
I had just arrived to work when my bosses asked if they could speak to me outside. We sat down at a patio table and they let me have it: they caught me drinking on the cameras the night before.
The night before was when two former co-workers came in to congratulate me on my engagement. We drank wine towards the end of my shift while I was still on the clock.
I scoffed. You know I just got engaged, right? We were celebrating with a toast.
And they were like, yea, it wasn’t the only time we caught you drinking during your shift.
Apparently, they’d been watching me for weeks, just waiting for their moment to fire me. I defended myself, saying I was only tasting the wine so I could explain its notes to the customer. Obviously!
And then Justin pulled up.
He waited inside the restaurant and greeted us as we walked in. As he said hellos to my former bosses I quickly gathered my things. Justin handed me the ring and I tried it on in front of everyone because I had to make sure it fit. My bosses ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed and I smiled and said thank you and could not imagine anything worse than this moment.
I tried to rush out the door but felt like molasses. I pretended like it wasn’t a big deal and I didn’t care but I was mortified. How could I make this less awkward?? I couldn’t.
For a long time I didn’t tell people about getting fired. And every time I thought of it I cringed.
I rationalized the events: I didn’t drink that much, it didn’t affect my work, I wasn’t the only one to get fired for drinking, my bosses sucked, and at my last job my bosses were practically pouring shots in my mouth.
Simultaneously, I felt extreme shame that I secretly drank wine during my shifts. What did that say about me?
I worried it meant I had a problem. I worried I would feel shame for the rest of my life.
Four years later I think it’s much simpler than that. I was unhappy at that job, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I made some poor decisions.
Shortly after getting fired, I signed up for the online course Write of Passage and created Charlie Bleecker.
Charlie is no saint but she does have her shit together. She’s why I look back fondly on all my poor decisions. Even getting fired from that stupid wine bar. Every experience that makes me want to curl up in a ball under my sheets and shut my eyes so hard I disappear, has led to Charlie.
So yea, I got fired for drinking on the job. It’s embarrassing and true and kind of hilarious the way it went down.
And as always, it feels good to share my story with you.
May your travel this week be filled with small pleasantries, like the bumper sticker on this minivan.
As for the Bleeckers, our Thanksgiving plans were canceled because my mother-in-law got COVID. She’s doing okay, but there will be no trip to Charlotte for the holiday. Which means no home-cooked meals all week, no social interaction with two other adults (I don’t get out much), no extra help and doting on the grandbabies, no leftover turkey pot pie.
It won’t be the same. We’ll miss them.
But at least I’ll get a head start on baking cookies and decorating for Christmas!!!
‘Tis the Season!