Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sorta Fired

OK. Fine. You people win. “When are you gonna post again?”



Here is the story about the time I was “sorta” fired.

"My tie is too red and too tight"
I’ve told it many ways, on different days, and nothing else rhymes. So here it is, me getting fired nicely.
It was March 2001. Some friends and us (my wife and I) decided we really needed to be in Australia. It sounded like a really good idea. We looked into it. So did our friends. We all looked into it. It looked to be awesome. So full of awesome we hired an agent. She said it would be awesome too.

She said, “It’s gonna be awesome.”

We couldn’t find a single reason why not.

So I put in a request at work for a week in November for vacation. It was mine to request so I requested it.

I worked for a propane distribution company. Ferrell North America. It was the commercial division of Ferrellgas. Now, the division, as a whole, was mostly a trading company.  This was weird because 90% of the 27th floor of Allen Center One was devoted to transporting propane to the retail centers in… well… North America. But 10% (which was two guys and 6 monitors whispering “sell” or “buy”) that really ran the division.

All things being as they were… it was a business and Dude Ferrell ran it as such. He bore an uncanny resemblance to Clayton Williams. I never knew the guy. I met him once. I didn’t care seeing as how he spent the minimum amount of time in Texas to qualify as a resident to avoid certain taxes. Whatever. Texas is awesome, so the time he spent here had to have been worth it.

Now, when it comes to propane, the fall and winter months are pretty important. We were planning a vacation in November. Me? I wasn’t in distribution. I was administration. I kept track of gas cards and drug testing. And due to an unexpected absence in South East USA, I also ran distribution in Georgia and Florida. I got a raise for that.

Back to March. I requested my time in November off. I was told, “It shouldn’t be a problem, but I just don’t know. Get back with me in August.”

Five months. This was ok, because according to our travel agent we had 100% money back guarantee if we cancelled by the last week of August.  So we made our payment and waited for August.

I requested again the first week of August. I got no comment on e-mail… so I went in person. “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

The second week of August, I sent another e-mail. No response. I went in person, “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

Last week of August, I sent another e-mail. NO RESPONSE. I went in person. “Listen… I have $2,000 tied up in this vacation so far. I lose it if I don’t cancel NOW. Do I get my time off or not!?”

“Shouldn’t be a problem.”

I take this as a “GO”.

September 10 arrives.

“Eric… we need to talk. Are you available for a 3pm?” My manager won’t look me in the eye.


Well, 3pm came and went. WTF? “Sorry, something came up. How about tomorrow?”

Sure. I’m available. I had absolutely nothing going on September 11, 2001. I’ll have you know, that I was the only person to shout, “FUCK ME, THEY HIT THE SECOND TOWER!!!” that very morning. At least on my floor. It may have been mentioned elsewhere…

Nobody believed me. They said, “They’re showing it again?!” Right, like CNN caught the first tower strike and waited to replay while somehow the other tower caught fire.

Twenty minutes later we evacuated downtown Houston.

Well… the evacuation began. Our boss saw the writing on the wall and sent us all home. However, by that time of day the busses were running on an hour long loop. I fortunately scored a ride with somebody with a car and got out quickly. Thus went my first evacuation of Houston. I’ve only had to live through two others.


September 12, 2001. “Eric, we’ve looked at the schedule and we don’t think we can do without you for a week in November.”

“Really? You’ve had six months to let me know and now I’m out $2,000? Never mind. My last day will be November 12.” I felt so empowered.

The very next day my manager and her manager pulled me into a tiny little conference room.

“We’re sorry, but after recent events we’ve decided to let you go two weeks from now.”

“Really? Am I being fired?” I almost laughed.

“Not unless you want to be…”

I really couldn’t see how that benefitted me.

“We’ll accept your two weeks’ notice affective today.” My manager’s manager wouldn’t even look me in the eye! My manager was pretty interested in her fingernails.

“Well, you can take this job and take turns SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASSES!” I said in my mind with a perfect poker face.

“Ok.” I said out loud.

What happened to “can’t do without you”?

This place is AWESOME.
So I took a few weeks off! Then I went to Australia! Stephanie hugged not one, but TWO koalas! We toured the Castlemaine Brewery, of course! Sydney, Brisbane and Carnes. It was absolutely beautiful. It was AWESOME.

And somehow I found myself employed when I got back. Now that’s a story in and of itself… for another time.


  1. Glad you had an awesome vacation. They probably realized their mistake and decided not to fire you.

  2. Oh and yet my darling husband fails to mention Castlemaine was NOT our our list but lucky for him his wife is literate and knows his LOVE of beer. While waiting for out flight from Sydney to Brisbane I found we were arriving just before the last tour of the week. I convinced our group of friends to walk there right after check in at our hotel! We had a blast! My sister offically broke the seal at a McD on the way back to the hotel and we will never forget the fun. Best time anyone of us has ever been kind of fired!!!!!

    (and I am his wife but posting as anon because blogger has gotten stupid and tells me I don't have rights to post comments otherwise, grrr!

  3. And I need to add the Koalas are AWESOME I have video and a pic of me holding Cecil and I have to admit that is about the biggest smile on my face I have ever had(right next to me bearing the non giant squids two kids) I will never forget my koala holding experience :)

    Again the non giant squids wife

  4. I guess they forgot they fired you... or maybe they realized they really couldn't get by without you.

  5. I think it was a control thing. They didn't know what they wanted to do, or how; but they didn't want me gone while they thought about it.

    The lesson here is, don't threaten to quite before you're ready because they can and will do without you. I should have just said, "I'm very disappointed. Thank you for allowing me to continue my employment with this company. You are a very nice manager and your hair looks exceptionally nice today."

    Then I should have spent then next eight weeks looking for a job and two weeks before my vacation put in my notice. Although it was kind of satisfying to spend my last two weeks there going through the motions with the certain knowledge that nobody knew how to do most of what I did. I had no trained back-up.

    And yes, my darling wife, it was totally your idea to visit the brewery. Thank you.