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All By Myself–Part 2

November 21, 2009

A little over a year ago, a new Director was hired to be in charge of all staff at the Retirement Home. Jamie was a perky little thing with dark hair and freckles spattered all over her face. She was 24 years old but looked 15.

When she first hired on, she seemed so friendly and outgoing. She seemed to really care about the residents. Many of the residents resented her right off as they missed Tom who had been the previous Director until he’d retired after being there for 10 years. They were used to the calm, wise, older man and thought of this new girl as a baby who was way out of her league.

Most of the staff liked her and she treated us well in the beginning. Within 6 months of hiring on, she changed to a power-hungry heartless woman. She changed rules, sometimes on a weekly basis, and was constantly upsetting us with these new rules. One week we were to do this, the next week it was “No, let’s do it like this.” We were never sure what policy was in effect and for how long.

She fired a server who had worked there for 3 years. The server was joking with one of the residents and Jamie overheard the conversation. She called the girl into her office and fired her on the spot–no warnings, no reprimand–nothing! She deemed the conversation disrespectful and not tolerated in her building. She escorted the girl out of the building, called a staff meeting, and explained that the girl had been fired and no one was to be in contact with her not even outside the building. She announced that was the new policy–there will be no fraternizing with former employees who had been fired. If she found out anyone had contacted one of these poor souls then they would be next in line.

What??!! We were friends with the girl and couldn’t keep in touch! What kind of bunk is that? We still did but kept quiet about it at work.

A week later, one of the housekeepers got fired. She had been with us for 2 years. She didn’t dust some window sills very well was the reason for the firing. She was also escorted out of the building.

The following weekend, we were working short-handed due to flu season. Normally there was 4 servers, 2 cooks, and a dishwasher. There were 3 servers that night and one cook and no dishwasher. This meant that I  would have to do my normal duties plus be the dishwasher as the other 2 girls were under 18 and not allowed to work the dish machine. We all had to hurry rather quickly to get all of the residents fed in a timely manner. Then I had to bus/clean up my section then go back to do the dishes while the other 2 servers cleaned their areas and their part of the kitchen.

During all of this rushing, my hairnet fell off but I was too hurried and agitated about all that had to get done so I didn’t care. I never thought any more about it. We finished everything on time and went home–thank God! I was so tired from all of the rushing about that I went straight to bed.

The next day, I walked into work and clocked in. Jamie came to the time clock and asked me to come to her office. I thought ‘Oh-oh! What is this about?” I walked into her office, she closed the door, and handed me a paper. “Barbara, this is your notice of  termination effective immediately.” I was stunned! My heart started racing, my stomach flipped, and I began shaking. “What? Why?”

“It was reported to me that you were working without a hairnet last night which is a violation of my policy and it is my determination to terminate you immediately.” I hung onto her desk for fear of my knees giving out and I started crying–more in shock than anything else. “Jamie please!!” I went on to explain what had happened and why my hairnet wasn’t on. She merely said, “I’ll escort you out now.” She was so cold about it and I think that was what shut me up. I saw there was no use trying to get another chance. The entire procedure took place in 3 minutes. Three minutes to have my job, my love, my life ripped from under me.

She walked me out of the building and watched until I was in my car and driving away. I was still shaking so hard I could barely drive. Good thing I only lived 8 blocks away. I ran into the apartment and burst out bawling–gut wrenching sobbing. The first time I had cried in the 12 years since I’d left Rick. How was I going to get through this? What will the residents think when they don’t see me? I was devastated beyond belief.

The next day I emailed Corporate pleading for someone to listen to me. Didn’t my 8 years there mean anything? In return I received an email with an apology that policy was policy and their hands were tied. It also stated I was not allowed to return to the building and I was not to contact the residents as that would just upset them. Upset them? They were already going to be upset when wondering where I was and what happened.

I composed a letter stating why I had to leave and how much I would miss all of them plus my phone number and address if any of them wanted to stay in touch with me. I had copies made and addressed all of the envelopes and mailed them out. Three days later, one of the dishwashers called me and told me the letters arrived on the same day and the residents got together and went to Jamie’s office in mass protest. It did them no good. Jamie sat very calmly and just repeated over and over again “I’m sorry you feel that way. But policy is policy and I had to do my job.” Several residents called her rude names and she just repeated the same phrase–cold, cold woman! To this day, I still get letter, cards, and phone calls from many of them. I still miss them dearly.

I have found out that all of the firings were women between 40 and 60 years old. They have all been replaced by 20-something girls. Jamie was systematically getting rid of the old and bringing in the new and the young. Age discrimination. Could it be proven? No. We had all ‘broken policy’ in one way or another. There was nothing any of us could do about it. Corporate always wins.

(I intended for this post to continue to my current situation, but I’ll have to finish in another post. This is too hard on me right now.)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy(luvcats) permalink
    November 21, 2009 6:36 pm

    Sounds like age discrimination. But hard to poove.
    Can’t wait to read the next chapter.

  2. November 21, 2009 6:58 pm

    Thanks Peggy! Yes, it definitely was age discrimination but, like you said, none of us could prove it!

  3. November 22, 2009 3:25 pm

    Sad again as I remember you going through this. I still don’t understand how people can be fired so easily! And I’m so glad you are ok now!! Hugs!!

  4. November 22, 2009 4:27 pm

    Thank you Jonie! I know you were ‘by my side’ through all of it and I’m so grateful for your friendship!

  5. Margie permalink
    November 23, 2009 8:58 am

    Wow. The only consolation? What goes ’round, comes ’round. She will be in the 40-60 range one day if the Lord desires.

  6. November 23, 2009 11:16 am

    Thank you Margie! I’ve thought about that. I just wish I could be there to see it happen!

  7. December 1, 2009 11:19 pm

    I can really feel your pain here … to have gone through so much, to have come so far, to have given so much of yourself and to care for so many and be cared for by them … 😦

    The human element is so often forgotten. Thank goodness for all your caring and for those residents who cared back. Between the hurt, hang on to that. ((hugs))

  8. December 2, 2009 10:58 am

    Thanks All Time! Yes, it is still painful! I still feel such anger and such a huge loss in my life! I can’t shake the bitter feelings! I’m hoping that time will lessen all of these bad feelings!

  9. December 30, 2009 12:53 pm

    Barbara, some people have no moral conscience but like Margie I do believe “what goes around, comes around.

  10. December 30, 2009 2:02 pm

    Thanks Nancy! I know it sounds nasty but I hope she gets her due!

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