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The Lesson I Learned When I Was Fired for the First Time vs. When I Quit for the First Time

and how they're the same

By Elise L. BlakePublished about a month ago 6 min read
The Lesson I Learned When I Was Fired for the First Time vs. When I Quit for the First Time
Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

My very first "job" was as a summer park counselor for my city. 

However, for the sake of this lesson sharing, I'm not going to count it as an actual job because all I did was get paid $6/hr to spend a few hours at a playground that was a two-minute walk from my house, where I would read a book under a tree, do arts and crafts projects with toddlers, eat a free lunch and walk home to continue with my summer break.  

It was the easiest job I've ever held though for this reason, I'm not going to say it counts since in the time I worked there I didn't learn what it meant for someone to be in charge of me and to take orders or hold a responsibility, this came with my next job. 

Being the obvious craft lover that I was from that first job it was only reasonable that my first "real" job would be at a large chain craft store. It was located nowhere near my house and forced my dad to drive me to and from work as there was no public transportation available to the part of the highway where it was located. And since I was still not yet 16 I didn't have the opportunity of having a car to get myself there just yet.

Dressed in a uniform that was more than a pair of shorts and a neon tie-dyed shirt - I was learning real responsibilities… restocking, talking to customers, being in charge of a register. 

Sure I spent most of my day sweeping glitter and refolding shirts, but it was a step in the right direction of adulthood…

For a short while. 

Until I quit. 

Sorry if you were thinking I was going to be fired from my first job! 

After my first job, I got sidetracked a bit with graduating high school, applying to college, and not stressing about money at the time since I had plenty saved up from my previous job(s) so I wasn't worried about finding a new one until I settled into my first semester. 

From there I did what most college students do and my sister and I hit the local mall, resumes in hand, looking for those ever-present help-wanted signs in the windows.

It wasn't long before we found placements - her in a big department store attached to the mall and me in a tourist shop nowhere at all near the mall -  that had gotten hold of my application from one of their locations in the mall. 

I gave them every spare hour that I could from my first year of college as a part-time employee until I left college and became a salaried manager and gave them almost fifty hours a week. 

It was less than glamourous, organizing snowglobes, folding T-shirts, and being yelled at by the visitors when I calmly explained to them that they would not find a Statute of Liberty snowglobe - why? Because they're not in New York. Shouldn't we have them anyway? - No - Why? See the above answer. 

I never hated my job, as I loved the city and my coworkers were people I thought would be as close to family to me after almost seven years with some of them.

However - as I'm sure you could guess where this one is going - 

COVID happened. (Plot twist) 

However again - this was not the reason I lost my job. 

Ready for the big reveal? I know you're hanging on the edge of each of my lines waiting for me to just get to the point already - well here it is. 

Why did I quit my first job? They did not respect me. 

Why was I fired from my long-standing job? They did not respect me. 

When hired at my first job it was with the knowledge given to the hiring manager and then the scheduling manager that I would not be able to work a certain Holiday due to premade travel plans with my family - this was understood - this was noted and discussed several times and agreed upon - until three days before the holiday when I was told to either come in or I would be fired… so I quit. 

When COVID had finally released the tourist industry from its skeletal fingers I was more than ready to return to my little shop so when the phone call came in asking me to come back with my first day being the Fourth of July - I had to explain that I would gladly be there the very next day as my brother was getting married on the 4th (he and his wife are both in the Army and yes it was all red, white, and blue decor)  

There was no ultimatum this time, my manager simply said ok, and thanked me for letting her know - my final check was in the mail a week or so later after she ignored my calls when I tried to ask her when she wanted me in on the 5th. 

So what all-important lesson did I learn that I thought this article was worth writing? 

Respect Matters 

Sure when I quit that job I thought for a moment that I had made a big mistake - until that holiday became one of the last I ever had with a family member of mine who has since passed and my brother and his wife moved 2109 miles away to her next duty station. 

I respected myself enough to know that especially as a 15-year-old who was sweeping glitter until almost 11 pm each night, leaving that job was not me giving up or being ungrateful for the opportunity - I chose my family first especially since had I gone to work my father would have missed out on the holiday festivities as well since he was my ride. 

My father respected me for not allowing a place to walk over me just because I was young and new to the job. 

When I was fired from a job I had given my all to without so much as a goodbye or acknowledgment from a single one of the coworkers I had become close with - shared laughter, tears, and frustrations with as well as Friendsgiving meals and holiday celebrations… I'll be honest it took a while for the blow to heal before realizing that if they had been able to let me go so easily - they did not respect me as I thought they did. 

Whether you are young or old, looking for your very first job or you've been in one for several years now - respect should be a must in your workplace. If it isn't there is no shame in letting it go and looking for a place that will. 

Is there a lesson in this mad-raving article? I'm sure there is somewhere between the ranting and raving if you look hard enough. 

But no matter what, you deserve to be treated with love and respect from those around you, no matter what job you have, or how much money you make. 

I learned to respect myself because no one else was required to.

With love, 

B. xo xo


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This story was originally posted on Medium.

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About the Creator

Elise L. Blake

Elise is a full-time writing coach and novelist. She is a recent college graduate from Southern New Hampshire University where she earned her BA in Creative Writing.

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