Ramblin Man: Odd stories

■ By Dave Porter / Columnist

I was reading a collection of odd stories about people getting fired for doing stupid things. I was reminded of a job I once had where one of my primary duties, it seemed, was to fire people.
I can’t say that I ever liked firing people. No one else in management did either. I was the low person on the management totem pole, so I got to be the resident jerk.
I got pretty good at getting people to quit. About half of the more than two dozen people I had to let go decided to quit. Some didn’t get the hint. Some dug in their heels and pretty much insisted that I fire them. Others worried needlessly that they’d be next.
My boss wanted me to use the threat of being fired as an incentive. I told him I wouldn’t do it. People shouldn’t have to come to work everyday feeling like their jobs are on the line.
I only fired people without warning for specific violations, like stealing and making up quotes in the paper. Those are red line violations.
For most problems, I would tell them that I would identify the problem and give them ideas for how to fix the problem.
So it was curious when one employee curled up on the floor in the fetal position and cried and begged me for a second chance. I explained how I had given him at least five second chances already.
The most bizarre firing was when an employee was caught stealing money from the company. To get the proof, I marked a five dollar bill and gave it to a friend to pay for newspapers at the end of the day. I watched from my second floor office as the friend left. I checked the cash register and the bill was not there. The transaction also wasn’t recorded.
When I fired the clerk the next day, she said she had given the papers away and denied taking the money. When I explained to her what I had done, she still refused to acknowledge that she had taken it. I had already verified with the friend that she had paid for the papers.
I never got my five dollars back from the employee or the company.
On the one hand, I hated to fire someone over five dollars, but the five dollars was just the theft that I could prove. We suspected that she’d been pocketing newspaper sales for awhile.
I think it’s been 13 years since I fired anyone. I’ll be happy to never have to do it again.

© Copyright 2018 by David Porter who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. I’ve never been fired myself — I always took the hints.

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