Remember that super-duper job I was so excited about six months ago? Well, that’s it. Today was the last day of the probationary period and the company decided to move on without me.
A few days ago, an invitation from my boss to a “probationary period final review” appeared in my Outlook inbox. I expected this, it was the standard procedure in this company (or at least in my department) and I was looking forward to it. They always do one review meeting half way through the probationary period and another at the very end. I still remember the two colleagues, who joined the company a few months before me, coming out of their review meetings with big smiles on their faces. Afterwards they threw a big party and… oh, what a joy. I was thinking along these lines while I was finishing some paperwork and preparing to go into the meeting room for my final review.
I remember mentioning to one of the colleagues earlier today that I’m having my final review meeting in the afternoon and went on saying how this was the last day of my probationary period and that I was so exited. We agreed that this company rule was indeed a bit awkward and that perhaps the company should not always wait until the very last moment to let the employee know if they’re staying or leaving. But we were both sure that in my case, this was a pure formality as I was doing a good job and I also fit quite well in the team. “Yeah”, I thought, “for the past few months I’ve been living for this job, so what could possibly go wrong?” My booking numbers literally exploded since I took charge of my own account portfolio. Or at least that was my impression…
“I’ll come straight to the point”, said the HR lady the moment we sat down. She was sitting right there in front of me, at the opposite side of the table. My boss was sitting quite a bit further away, almost at the other end of the long conference table, as if she was not participating in this meeting. “We decided to move on without you” the HR lady said. The first thought that crossed my mind was that she was trying to make a joke. So I smiled for a second. We got to know each other well during the past few months, were going out for lunch together and had a really good vibe. Or so I thought. Therefore I considered a joke to start off this kind of meeting quite ok. But then I turned to my boss and saw her sitting far away at the other side, holding tight to her chair. She just sat there in her black pullover and despite the sunny Friday afternoon, her face suddenly seemed to be turning gray. She stared back at me without saying a word. And within a second I realized this was not a joke. That’s when it hit me. Holy Moly, this is for real. I’m being fired.
I decided to speak up and I said (as if it was going to make any difference): “first of all, thank you for the chance you’ve given me. I really appreciate that. But I do have to ask: why didn’t you give me a signal, a warning signal that I might be steering in the wrong direction? I explicitly asked for feedback on several occasions. And didn’t get any, let alone an honest feedback.” “This decision was not an easy one for us to make”, she replied. “But why in the world did you ask me about my future team unit preferences just the other day, if it was obvious that you were letting me go?” “I am truly sorry.”, she answered in such tone of voice that it felt as if I was talking to some AI phrase generator. The HR lady interrupted this dialogue: “…the commission you’ve earned will be paid out to you in the time to come”. “Well, I sure hope it will”, I thought. After all, I earned the money, didn’t I?
And then, in an unusually calm, low voice, as if she was talking to a child, the HR lady said: “we will now go over to your desk, so that you can pack your personal belongings”. And while I was collecting my stuff from the drawers, she quickly took the laptop and the mobile phone from the desktop.
I gave each teammate one last hug and said goodbye. Even my (ex) boss stood up. I can’t say for sure, but it looked like she might have expected a hug, too. “I wish you all the best, from the bottom of my heart!”, she said. I slowly raised my hand and kind of just waved back at her, without saying a word. I mean, what was I supposed to say? “Yeah, I wish you all the best, too!” And perhaps add a “Cheerio!” to that?
And there I was, headed towards the exit, carrying a silly paper bag full of my personal belongings, escorted by the HR lady. A scene you’d normally see in those American movies happening to me in real life. Heh. Surreal. When we reached the door, she said: “Come here, let me give you a hug”, in a bright and ever so friendly voice. Honestly, I was so totally confused at that moment, that I just replied, without much thinking: “Nah, you don’t have to” and stepped out of the office building for the last time.
And now? What is left from the dream castle I’ve been building during the past few months? Well, for one, a few absolutely beautiful, unforgettable moments. And a few really nice acquaintances. New experiences and lessons learned. And a feeling of guilt. Guilt that I didn’t try harder. Guilt that I didn’t fit in better. That I failed. I had a chance and I blew it. And a feeling of shame. I’ve never been fired from any job before in my life. Ever. So it feels totally weird…
But, ok folks – you know how they say: “in every difficulty there is an opportunity”. So, let me wrap it up at this point and go look for my opportunities… 😎