Shitcanned With Kids: a Recipe for Disaster.

If you work anywhere, you probably already know that people suck. Well, maybe not people so much as the people you are forced into relationships with suck, people like coworkers or your children.

You may try to blame your problems on your actual job but trust me, your job is great. Your job probably has a written description and somewhat reliable expectations even if your boss stretches them to seemingly impossible limits. Jobs have definable tasks, people just bring large amounts of nonstop crazy.

A few years back, I was unceremoniously fired from the wonderful religious “family orientated” small Midwestern university where I worked because I was routinely 20 minutes late from lunch on Tuesdays. Ok, if you ask them, I was fired because I flipped off a co-worker under my desk (but within sight of another coworker) something I actually did and regret only slightly. Had I known I was about to get canned, I would have flipped this person off squarely to her face.

I usually do not support such open hostility in the workplace but I worked with a few very vulgar people. So under the desk hand gestures were de rigueur in the office. Turns out though, what your boss claims that she will tolerate will almost surly become not tolerable when she discovers that she wants to fire you for another unrelated matter that she couldn’t ordinarily fire you for lest she look like a total monster. Even monsters don’t like to be monsters.

True, I really had been late every Tuesday. But, but, but I was late because I was taking my autistic daughter to her weekly Occupational Therapy sessions. Why Tuesday? Originally we had a highly coveted Saturday morning slot but her therapist quit and we were relegated to the much less desirable Tuesday afternoon but I took it without hesitation. I mean, this is my kid. Plus my ex was taking her to another weekday therapy so it only seemed fair.

I’m a big believer that no one at work should ever have too much knowledge about your crappy personal life, we all got problems. So taking this time each week was an uncomfortable favor I had asked of my coworkers in our very busy office. This was a team, I wanted their blessing. For the first two months, everyone was cordial, reverent even but then a few other departments started to notice and unbeknownst to me, started to ask questions.

Like everything in child rearing (and autism) everyone has a stupid fucking opinion about how you “should” be doing it. Suddenly, folks who had been so interested and concerned about my daughter’s therapy were all kinds of pissed off that I was getting special treatment. And people, being the fragile egocentric assholes that they are didn’t discuss what really was a problem for the office but waited until I messed up and simply fired me.

You gotta be hated, rejected or fired a few times. It builds character.

For a few months, I was super pissed about the way I was let go. I was furious that I never got my day in court with Human Resources and felt really cheated. But, my unemployment checks started rolling in and I forgot all about it. Turns out when your are truly shitcanned without just cause, you still get unemployment. So BOOYAH! Getting a check for nothing! I win!

Eventually I my free ride on the unemployment rocket ship was over and I ended up landing another job. I learned to happily ignore the very little family drama that my new coworkers may have, I’m just glad that I have a job I like.

Getting fired ended up not being such a big deal, and I’m glad that I didn’t attempt to file a grievance because I ended up in a much better situation. I learned that my family’s needs can be met and I can advance in a career as long as I have a job with (ta-da) flextime. People still suck, their demands on my time and resources are unreasonable on a regular basis and I still flip my coworkers off, but now I just do it in my mind.


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Laughspin.com. Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

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  1. “Ok, if you ask them, I was fired because I flipped off a co-worker under my desk (but within sight of another coworker) something I actually did and regret only slightly. Had I known I was about to get canned, I would have flipped this person off squarely to her face.”

    I laughed at this part. I’ve definitely been there before. Sometime, I should tell you about my first job (when I was 18 and fearless), haha.

    1. Basically, I was a secretary for 3 months, at a small company (8 people). One day, the vice-president of the company came up to me and told me the floor was dirty and I needed to vacuum it. So I told him, “That’s not in my job description so….” and I laughed. And he said something like, “Your job description is to do whatever the hell I say!” And I replied, “Haha yeah but I’m not doing that!” Hahaha. I told my mom and her coworkers about it and they treated me like a hero and I didn’t understand why until a few years later.

      (Also, I didn’t do the vacuuming because someone else in the office was paid extra to do the general cleaning–and I know that because the accountant of the company told me.)

    2. And my attitude was pretty much like, what are you going to do, fire me? I did all of the office grunt work (answering phones, page-numbering giant binders by hand, sorting the mail, etc.). Plus, the job was going to be over at the end of the summer. And I was living with my parents so it’s not like I needed the money for anything except buying dorm stuff for college.

      Nowadays, if my boss asked me to vacuum, I’d be like “Where’s the vacuum?”

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