Work

About a week after my last post, I was fired from my contract. I have to work out my two weeks’ notice, which has been excruciating so far. I have one more week plus a day to go. I wish I could afford to quit, but I can’t – who knows when I’ll next be working.

After the last post, where I was experiencing all kinds of anger with this manager, I calmed down. However, she started in with the silent treatment. She’d try and pretend she didn’t see me come in when I arrived in the morning, though as we sit side by side, it’s not actually possible that she didn’t. I’d say good morning to her, forcing a response. But that would be the end of any communication through the day. If she needed me to do something, she would email me or message me.

I find this behaviour very painful. I was treated to this practice extensively as a child, and it makes me quite crazy. So I was frantically trying to figure out both what I’d done, and also what I should do in response. Did it make sense for a contractor who has only been onsite for two weeks, to ask for a meeting with the manager about the strange behaviour? I talked to friends, and Ron. There was no clear answer, but most thought that in the circumstances, I should let it alone and see what emerged.

So I did that. And what emerged was she fired me. She also fired a fellow contractor who was more on the technical side, who had been there two months. One final contractor remains, a database guy.

I hadn’t yet had a chance to turn in any real work. I was finally assigned something, which the manager didn’t look at until after I was given notice.

I am quite angry and also quite traumatized. I don’t know what I’ve done. The agency I got this contract through has informed me I am not to ask the client what happened. Ron has suggested I ask anyway. He was quite outraged on my behalf actually, asking in what sense is this a contract, when it’s for six months, but they can fire me without cause with only two weeks’ notice. I considered going to my manager’s boss and asking her what happened. I realize she has signed off on all this hiring and firing, but my manager seems impossible to have a conversation with.

The agency is not important to me – I can work through any agency, so it doesn’t matter if they disapprove of something I do. The agency has been extremely poor overall. Some person I didn’t know from them called to inform me of the two weeks’. Then my actual recruiter emailed me a few days later to say she would call me, and she hasn’t. They really only care about the client, not the workers.

I waited three weeks without pay for this job to start. There was no on-boarding whatsoever – I wasn’t even introduced to anyone, not even the other contractors on the team. As soon as whatever it was went wrong, I was treated to the silent treatment instead of feedback or discussion about what is expected. Now I’m heading into the holiday season, when hiring stops altogether, so may not work again until next year. I’ll have a huge gap on my resume, or, I’ll have a tiny job I’ll have to explain, for which I won’t have references.

This manager continues to act as if I have done her some huge disservice. She’s worked for the bank for thirty years – has she ever gone without a paycheque? Is she really the injured party here? I suppose in her mind she is.

I’m trying to keep my spirits up by asking fellow contractors to join me for coffee breaks. They are these techie guys, and don’t seem to care about having human companionship, but once in a while they join me. I’m trying to avoid the situation of having no one say a word to me all day long. When that happens, it’s easy for me to slide into a morass of feelings that I had as a child being ignored.

This is in a way an opportunity to confront within myself this particular bad situation. I keep reaffirming that I am not at fault here, there is nothing wrong with me. It really helps. It’s hard though – 8 hours a day, with nothing much to occupy me – it’s rough.

One more week. Plus a day.

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14 comments
  1. this is outrageous ellen how can she do that do you after only two weeks? doesn’t make sense at all. I am very sorry that this happened. xxx

    • Ellen said:

      Yes it is. Thanks Many

  2. DV said:

    The agency telling you not to ask what the problem is – that is outright ridiculous. This is a workplace and the expectation should be clear direction and constructive feedback, instead they’re acting as if it’s some kind of dysfunctional family where mummy can have tantrums because someone has hurt her feelings. No wonder it’s stirring up a lot of painful childhood memories and feelings. I can’t get my head around someone trying to run a business like that. I am sorry that this is possibly going to leave you without an income for a long stretch.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, it sucks. Business can be pretty dysfunctional. I keep wondering if there’s somewhere I can complain, but I don’t think there is anywhere. Thanks

  3. Ash said:

    This is really awful – and something you wouldn’t expect at a workplace. It sounds very unprofessional – I mean, they didn’t even introduce you to people…?! You probably should be glad to be let go if it weren’t for the financial situation you find yourself in now. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you so you’ll hopefully manage to find a new job soon.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Ash. Do you have a blog?

      • Ash said:

        Hi Ellen, no, I no longer blog after having given up hope on the boundary 🙂

  4. Ashana M said:

    Wow.

    It strikes me that your anger was somewhat prescient–you noticed something, and it was not really possible to tease out what it all meant. But it meant something. I know my own trauma brings out things in others, kind of no matter what I do. Even if I am not inappropriately reacting to things, I seem to affect people in ways that can end badly for me. I have not really figured out what to do about this.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it did mean something, but I couldn’t work out what it was. Presumably the manager also was feeling things on her side at the same time.

      I sometimes wonder if my trauma triggers people into behaving really badly, especially if they’re under stress. I’ve been scapegoated before, and this really feels like that also. Or if people see some anxiety I have and read it as something it isn’t. Usually, I’ve been told I am being paranoid though.

      Thanks Ash

      • Ashana M said:

        It is something that has really emerged for me in the last few years: I am seeing real things but I lose the ability to make sense of them. I think losing an ability to make sense is trauma. Information stops being routed to the prefrontal cortex. I think responses at these times lose finesse: you know to stand up for yourself, for example, but respond too aggressively for example. Or you become judgemental and shaming. I think traumatic responses are contagious.

        • Ellen said:

          I do feel I sometimes elicit trauma responses from some people. On a hike recently the leader, an older woman whom I’d barely spoken with, suddenly made a ‘joke’ about me that was quite hurtful. It just came out of the blue, and seemed a bit out of character for her. And I’m certain I’ve elicited a trauma response from this manager. It seems quite bizarre. Thanks

          • Ashana M said:

            Yes, I have have had things like that happen too. I feel like for me I need to be able to keep being able to process this rather than reacting without awareness or escalating the situation. I need to keep my mind working somehow, which it tends not to.

  5. This is appalling treatment, completely unprofessional! Both the agency and of course your manager are behaving inappropriately. It must feel maddening and frustrating and well, just sucky for you to be there. In my experience, when someone is fired, they leave right away but get paid for the two weeks. It’s crazy to have you come in under such circumstances. I’m so sorry you are experiencing this.

    I just reread the end of your post, and I am very glad you are reminding yourself that you are not at fault, which is clearly true. And it’s so important to talk kindly to yourself in the midst of a stressful situation!

    Thinking of you, with concern and care.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, if you’re fired from full-time, you leave right away. For contract, you stay put if you’re getting paid. They don’t call it ‘fired’, it’s ‘your contract was shortened’. lol. Nevertheless it’s very confusing and painful. I don’t know who knows I’ve been let go, if anyone. I have little actual work, so making me sit there for eight hours is more or less punitive only. It is an exercise in staying on my own side.

      Thanks Q

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