(A re-post for newer friends of this blog.)
Back in 1980, several months after we got married, my Beloved got me fired.
It all began when I had to take time off from work due to the simultaneous removal of all of my wisdom teeth. I’d gotten my boss’s approval for the time off in advance. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me, at about the time that I was sitting in the oral surgeon’s chair, an ugly stomach flu virus was gaining strength inside me.
When I returned home I was in pain and groggy from the surgery, anesthesia, and stitches. I’d planned to rest in bed for the rest of that day and then go back to work the next morning. It didn’t quite work out that way.
I hadn’t even made it to the bed when the symptoms of the flu hit me full force. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it is probably sufficient to say that I was one very sick and miserable young man. I couldn’t sleep and became very weak from making many trips between the bathroom and bed.
My Beloved called in sick for me the next morning. When I began working at that small company, I’d heard from other employees that my boss (the owner) had the habit of calling to check to see if his employees were actually sick at home or going out on job interviews, but I’d never been sick as his employee so I didn’t think much of it–-at least not until later that morning.
My boss telephoned and asked my Beloved to have me come to the phone. We didn’t have a cordless phone in those days, and our only phone was about as far away from our bed as it could be in our modest apartment, so against her better judgment my Beloved relayed his request to me. I needed the job and thought that perhaps he needed to ask me for some important information, so I crawled out of bed and barely made it to the phone. Once he was assured that I was at home and wasn’t at an interview, he abruptly ended the call, and then I dragged myself back to bed.
Shortly later, the phone rang again, and the process was repeated.
Unbelievably, a short time later, my boss called a third time. By now, I couldn’t even get out of bed and was too weak to speak in any case.
My Beloved had had enough. She told him politely but firmly that I was too ill to come to the phone.
He shouted, “Look little lady, I want you to get Russ on the phone right now!” That did it. My Beloved hardly ever swears. In fact, until then, I don’t think that I’d ever heard her say an expletive that would have raised eyebrows in a holy place, but apparently she was saving up the granddaddy of all swear words for just a moment as this.
The word exploded from her mouth followed quickly by the word “YOU!” and then she hung up.
She came in to tell me what she’d done, but I’d already heard her. She was concerned that she’d gotten me fired and knew that we badly needed that income. I wanted to congratulate her for standing up to the man, but was so ill that all I could muster is a slight grin. Hopefully she saw the twinkle in my eyes that went with it. I was–and remain–very proud of her for not letting him bully her.
After he recovered a bit from the shock, he dialed our number again. She let the phone ring. Fve rings. Ten. Twenty rings. Finally, she picked up the receiver and immediately placed it back on the hook.
The phone rang again. She let it ring several times, then picked up the receiver, set it on a table and walked away.
He never did get to tell her off.
Of course, I was fired as soon as I was well enough to return to the office, but that just saved me the hassle of quitting. When I recovered from my illness, I went in to the office to collect my belongings, but he’d hidden my family photos and a few other personal items in his office. I had to threaten to call the police and report the theft before he then quickly returned them. Needless to say, I’ve never happier to leave a job than I was that day.
I learned some important lessons from that episode, including:
I needed to be more careful to be sure I had a good employer and boss.
It is best to avoid working for and with people who make my stomach churn.
My Beloved can stand up for herself–-and woe be to anyone who makes her angry!
Well, two out of three ain’t bad!