Rant: Never Stay In A Toxic Workplace

Photo by Egor Padalka on Unsplash

I don’t understand how I keep finding myself on this end of the corporate ladder. I’m at the bottom, no longer near the rungs, I’ve done everything I assume imaginable to keep a job. But of course, I get chopped like a pile of iceberg lettuce leaves for a salad.

I hate writing about losing my job. It infuriates me. I tried to suppress the urge to write about being fired, but it keeps coming back. This post may sound like a rant, and dammit, I’m trying hard not to make it come off like that. But, I have to get it off my chest, otherwise it’s going to prevent me from being an honest and productive writer. I hate bearing this same stupid weight.

In 2016, I was hired by an insurance company that promised me the world. At least in my head they did. I went through two interviews, took a test but never received the scores, why would they matter?

I was hired after the second interview and sent to the training department.

Immediately, I fell in love with the atmosphere, it was like a college campus, and my colleagues were classmates. The trainers taught us everything we needed to know in order to do our jobs. But, I had an advantage, most of my colleagues were new to insurance, I had worked in insurance since I was 16, so I expected to move quickly up the company.

A job posting opened up for me in the claims department. (I promise to spend another post talking about how claims drove me insane.) But, long story short, I was promoted within 3 months after getting hired.

I was paid well. I was also fed free food. I think they use food as a golden handcuff since they got the good restaurants on speed dial. My work-life balance seemed to be more reasonable than my previous occupation.

And, then Hurricane Irma and then Matthew hit.

My workload in the claims department became unbearable, at this time, I was in the department for over a year. I kept up with the demands of my clients. But, I couldn’t help them, I could only make phone calls and hoped they were covered. I felt guilty whenever the insurance company denied a claim. But, I had other individuals to help all at the same time.

While claims became chaotic, I managed to cope, but life threw me a curve ball. I became violently ill during the late winter of 2017, and I feared that I might lose my job.

So, I asked my manager if I could work from home on the days I didn’t feel well. He gave me permission, but never followed through with getting the paperwork done.

I was afraid.

Fear always gets me in trouble at work. I’m afraid of stepping on toes. Rocking the boat. Standing up for myself. All of these stupid fears is what’s led to my current dilemma.

Out of fear, I started to look for work in another state. Maybe, if I got away from my environment, including claims, I could strive in the real world. My plan to move to North Carolina for work fell through the cracks.

So, I remained quiet at work.

Suffering inside. I couldn’t understand why I hated a place that I had grown to love. I knew the work was tough. I knew I couldn’t please everyone. But, why did I see red when I entered those security doors? I blamed myself, and worked on changing my attitude, but even then I failed.

My work-life balance became non-existent as my mother’s own disability crept into my life. I ceased having a social life. I was done with living at all.

I just worked, took care of my mother, and prayed I didn’t die due to my own mysterious illnesses. The middle management started behaving coldly towards me.

Could they tell that I was sick? Were they planning on firing me for taking one day off work to care for my disabled mother? What will I do if I lose my job?

All these worries ate at me, until a bright ray of sunshine helped me out of my darkened pit. My old manager asked me to rejoin her department and I did.

Everything got back on track, I was training to do new work. No longer stagnant. Sure, I was still sick, and I still had family issues, but I saw renewed joy in work.

A year after being rehired in the customer support department, I started training with a new department. The manager training me made me nervous. I was cautious around her. Something about her didn’t seem right. She was aloof, but cunning if that makes any sense. I assumed, I was being paranoid. After four months of training and learning the ropes. I applied for a position in that department, anyway (idiot!).

I was given positive feedback by the hiring manager, but not the manager who trained me. I had a sinking feeling, I didn’t get the position.

The following day, I received an email from the hiring manager stating that she had to go with two other employees, instead of hiring internally. She said it was because they had 10 years of insurance experience. I had less than them.

I understood.

It didn’t bother me.

Besides, I enjoyed my current team. But, the following day my boss pulled me into her office. She brought to my attention that the manager for the department I trained for not only believed my communication skills were lacking, but she said I had poor work ethic. And, that they overlooked me because I never asked her for more work in her department. Pretty much, I was lazy.

I was taken aback. The other manager rarely went to work and she didn’t train me. Her employees trained me and taught me everything I needed to know. Between her daughter’s girl scout meetings and her children’s Christmas presents shopping, she never mentioned I wasn’t doing my job.

I didn’t stand up for myself. I let my own boss rip me a new one. Again, I was afraid of being fired, so I remained church mouse quiet.

From that day forward, I kept my eyes focused on the keyboard. I worked through lunch. I avoided water breaks with my colleagues to keep working on projects. The situation with the manager from the other department blew over. I was removed from all of her team’s tasks, and I gladly obliged.

Still, in the pit of my stomach, I knew that my job was going to end.

In early 2019, we had a client service award meeting, fifty colleagues of mine received rewards, I knew I wasn’t getting anything. I wasn’t even envious, I just knew that I needed to work harder.

At that same meeting, it was announced that my company was sold, after the CEO stated in October 2018 and I quote: “We will never, ever, ever, ever, sell the company!” Yes, he used that many evers.

The air changed in my workplace and everyone started to quit or be fired for mysterious reasons. All of the firings never occurred because of the merger, at least that’s what the multiple emails a day said.

I had a gut feeling I was about to be gutted.

In the meantime, I trained with a new department, and I made sure to keep track of all my work in the form of spreadsheets. I followed up with the manager and asked for more work whenever I had a period of respite. She respected me, and I had respect for her. And, things were going great.

Her team had gotten behind in their work due to a heavy sales month. So I hopped in to assist. I was barely in her department for a month before one of her sales agents told her that she needed me to do more tasks and faster. I promised them I could, because I knew I would, and I did.

At the end of the month of February, a position opened up in the department. I applied for it, but never received a response from the manager or the hiring manager. I knew at that moment, I was done, but why?

My boss who hired me in 2016 and rehired me in her department back in 2018 pulled me into the office. I gave her a thick packet of all of my assignments that I’ve completed in the last four weeks in that other department, as well as communication between the teams and myself. I asked her to share it with the other manager. She said she would.

Then she told me the reason why I would never be hired in ANY of the departments and why I should QUIT sending my resume to ANY of the managers, it was because back in 2016, I took a test on my hiring week and my scores showed that I lacked initiative, thoroughness, and urgency.

I just frowned, and a small tear touched the corner of my eye. I was pissed at myself for showing any emotions. My boss gave me an ultimatum, leave the company or be under surveillance by her personally until I do my job better, and maybe then I might be able to find a better job outside of the agency.

I took the hint. I thanked her for being my manager and she fired me. My last day was March 1st.

The following day, I was given a request by the other manager who denied my resume. She wanted me to do additional work for her colleagues. I simply responded to the email that I wasn’t qualified to do their work.

It’s been a month since I got booted. I’m still jobless. But, happy AF. I’ve gotten healthier. I smile more. And, I know what it means to be in a toxic workplace. From this experience, I learned to trust no one but myself. I also used the experience to remind myself that corporate America is made up of people who don’t really know what they are doing, but are cool with stepping on nobodies to get ahead. I guess, I should’ve wore thicker shoes.

I did have one final message for my boss and my colleagues after getting the boot. I looked everyone in their eyes and said, “Remember the person you look down on while you’re going up is the same person that looks down on you when you fall to the ground.”

So, I got this off my chest, I’ll go back to writing about my new book and anime tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

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