I don’t know what made my mind go back to this memory this morning, but I woke up remembering in sharp detail the events surrounding being fired from my first job.
I started working for Osco Drug Store in Terre Haute when I was just 16. I worked there for 2 years stocking shelves, providing customer service and running the cash register. I was heavily involved in music in school, but they were very good with scheduling as long as I let them know what days I needed and showed proof of the event. In my 2nd year with Osco, I was written up because I had to use a sick day for a band parade that wasn’t on the original agenda. I worked with this very spiteful and mean woman named Phoebe. She found out that I had lied about being sick so that I could go march in the parade, went to the manager to tell, and I got written up. I cried.
When I was 18, I left to go work at Paul Harris, but that job underwent a change in management that left many employees without any hours for months. Then, the schedule for the next month came out and I was on it working 30+ hours a week! (While in High School.) One of the work days was the same day as the State Solo and Ensemble Finals, for which I had qualified. After being rejected the day off, I put in my 2 weeks notice…since the date was more than 2 weeks away.
Then I went back to Oscos (a year later) and asked for my job back. And they rehired me. We went through a store move at that time and the store was moved to a temporary place in the Honey Creek Mall, then we moved everything to the big building. It was an exciting summer. I got to work at a few other area Oscos, do different kinds of work as we set up the store, and meet employees of the other stores – which were surprisingly much nicer and easier to work with than some of the people my store.
Another year and a half at Osco, and I had been trained for the photo department. At this time, my hair was very very long, and I needed a scrunchie to pull it back whenever I developed pictures so that my hair would not get into the photo developing chemicals or get pulled into the negatives machine. I left this scrunchie inside a shelf behind the photo counter, but must have forgotten it at work one day. I was written up for leaving my personal effect at the workplace. I felt I was being treated unjustly.
Later that year, a friend of my parents was to get married and I was asked to play piano and sing the special music for their big day. I was happy to take this role, and spent a good deal of time preparing their music and rehearsing so that everything would be perfect. Even though I didn’t usually work on Saturday mornings, I verbally told Phoebe (the schedule maker) about the upcoming event date so that I could have the day off, but when the schedule came out, I was on it for that day and time. I asked Phoebe if it could be changed, and she insisted that because I didn’t put my request in writing it would NOT be changed, as a matter of PRINCIPLE! No problem, I thought. In the past, if you could find a replacement for your shift it was ok. And I had 2 weeks before the wedding day. My friend Kristy quickly agreed that she could work that day, but Phoebe said ‘no’ because it would give her enough hours to bump her from part time into full time hours. Kristy suggested that we just exchange shifts then, so that I would be working one of her days and there would be no change in the hours. Phoebe very crossly pinned the schedule back to the board and said NO. Any changes had to go through her. All week, every time I came in, I talked to the management about how I had to play for someone’s WEDDING on that day, and they were going to HAVE to find a replacement, or allow Kristy and I to switch shifts, because I couldn’t tell my family’s friend that I wasn’t going to play their wedding only 2 weeks before it. (And I had already invested so much time in preparing it!)
They would not change the schedule, as a matter of PRINCIPLE. The day before the wedding I worked, and during my shift I talked to Mark Monahan, the manager, and reminded him that I would not be able to come in because I had a wedding to play piano for. He was not in agreement. (This was not his first time hearing about the issue.)
Saturday morning, I called in. I said, “I’m not sick and you know it. I have a wedding I need to play piano for and I’m not coming in to work.” The response on the phone, “Ok.”
When I came in to look at the new schedule the following week, my name wasn’t there. I asked Pete, a supervisor, why my name wasn’t on the schedule. He said, “You don’t work here anymore.” Suddenly, standing behind the photo counter, I felt like an imposter in a place where I should not be. I asked, “Really?” and Pete said, “Yeah” and shrugged. I started crying and turned around to leave. I was mad. I was sad. I had wasted nearly 4 years of my life working for less than $7 an hour with a half dozen older employees who had only been mean and disrespectful to me, and a general manager who had been rarely present but unforgiving.
I started to cry. They were selling hangers in a big box near the checkout, a few of which caught on my clothing as I was walking out. I turned around and started to pick them up. (while crying…) Then I stopped and said, “I don’t work here anymore.” I left one package of hangers on the floor, and walked out.
Nobody ever called me from Osco Drug Store. There was no other meeting or phone call to discuss my termination. Years later, I received a notice from a service called “Unclaimed Money” which informed me that my last paycheck was still there. I believe I eventually convinced them to mail it to me. When I applied for a job at Drury Inn, the kind interviewer informed me that Osco Drug Store did NOT give me a good reference. She hired me anyway.
It’s been a little over 10 years since I was fired from Osco Drug Store, but I haven’t gone inside one to purchase anything. Not even once. And I probably never will.