Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Cost of Free Speech...

Yeah, so I got fired because of my blog. This of course means that now I must start a new blog, in which I can complain about the loss of my last blog. It’s only logical.

Allow me to clarify. Technically speaking, I didn’t actually get fired, I was asked to resign. This of course is a load of horse@#$% and I might as well have gotten fired, since I was given no choice in the matter. You know now I'm just itching to use them as references on my resume after this whole ordeal. The only difference is that I got a severence check, which covers at least one month of rent.

I will try to make a really long story really short, both for the sake of keeping me shrouded in a cloak of anonymity, and because if I explain what happened in uber detail one more time I might shove a stapler up someone's ass. At least I would if I had one within arms reach, but I don't, because I'm unemployed and am not at a well-equipped desk.

One day I was minding my own business when the VP called me into the conference room. I automatically had a bad feeling about this special one-on-one meeting, the same sort of feeling you get in elementary school when you find out the principal wants you to pay him a visit, but I certainly did not anticipate what waited for me behind the conference room doors. Laid out in front of the VP were 2 huge folders, labeled “PART 1” and “PART 2.” I had no clue what they were for; at least I didn’t until the VP asked me to tell him/her about "insert-blog-name-here.” I'm already a pale individual folks, but I guarantee you that at that moment I must have been transparent because I think I turned 9 shades whiter than my usual tone of “pasty” as I slowly realized what was in those folders.

Did you guess my blog? If you did you get a prize, except I can’t afford to give it to you right now because I have no money. Every blog entry I had ever written for the entire year I worked at this joint was in that folder. Every single one. People automatically assume that I must have written about my place of employment. Yeah, you’re right, I did. But before you start calling me an idiot let me inform you that I never once mentioned the name of where I worked, and I never once mentioned the names of any of my coworkers either. You could tell I worked for something that was only slightly related to Congress sometimes, but that was it. The VP even acknowledged that I never wrote anything defamatory about the company.

I'm sure at this point you are wondering what it is that I wrote that caused such a ruckus. I assure you it was nothing out of the ordinary. As I mentioned before it wasn't a well-known blog, sort of just a thing my friends read once in a while, and the content covered the events of what I consider to be a typical 20-something's lifestyle. Mostly I talked about weekend plans, things I wanted to buy, boys I wanted to make out with, boys I did make out with, and the alcohol involved in such situations. Far too scandalous for the uber-conservative Bible-thumpers I worked with. Oh the shock and shame of finding out someone you employ likes to get drunk and kiss boys. Horror of horrors.

As I sat there looking at the folders that contained my thoughts and musings of the past year everything seemed quite surreal. I had heard of such things happening to others but I sort of regarded it as an Internet Urban Legend. My blog wasn't publicized and only had a small handful of readers. Despite the fact that it was after all still the internet, it all felt quite intimate. Realizing that an unknown amount of employees had pored over these posts, looking for incriminating evidence, was a rather sickening feeling. The most incriminating evidence they could find was the fact that on occasion I did blog while I was at work. This was the reason given to me to explain why I had to resign. I stepped up to the plate and I admitted that I should never have blogged on the company dime. Honestly, I never thought it was a problem because the employee handbook stated that we were allowed to use the computers for limited personal use, and everyone else in the office did so at their own discretion. I didn’t think it would be a big deal if I used my personal computer time to write in a blog every now and then when things were slow, as opposed to say, playing solitaire or shopping like some of the other employees did. I've certainly learned my lesson, but the fact that I know I was in the wrong doesn't change all the little bits of evidence that kept piling up that led me to believe that was not the real reason, but just one they gave me so I couldn't sue them for all they were worth. Well, the fact alone that the VP straight out said, "Someone called the main office and asked how we could possibly employ someone that wrote the things you were writing" comes to mind, perhaps VP needs a lesson in tact. Combining this with the fact that the Office Manager basically confirmed my suspicions as I cleaned out my desk didn’t help either.

As much as I would like to know why they felt the need to do what they did, I find it pointless to obsess about what transpired, and am forced to look to the future as my bank account grows smaller and the due date of my next rent check draws nearer. I suppose I should consider myself lucky because in the end I did get a nice severance check, but I can’t help but feel that the fat check doesn’t quite make up for the feeling of being judged based on what you wrote about your lifestyle while simply exercising your right to free speech.

I suppose I should start searching the employment section of Craigslist now...

16 Comments:

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Pagan Marbury said...

How did they know it was your blog?

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Pagan Marbury said...

That really sucks. You should try to get a book deal.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger playfulinnc said...

Wow. Something about firing you for...your lifestyle...seems unconstitutional. My legal brain is firing up about this. Have you spoken to a lawyer? There are some women's rights, freedom of speech, etc issues here.

Good luck to you.

 
At 12:58 PM, Blogger Buck Turgidson said...

C'mon, [[playfulinnc]], "unconstitutional"?

As my lwyer toldme, if you barely know the pledge of allegiance, you shouldn't be holding forth on the Constitution.

Moreover, there's nothing unconstitutional about firing a drunk slut.

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Unemployed Blogger said...

Pagan Marbury: They knew it was mine because someone called and told them it was, at least that's what I was told. Book deal huh... Interesting idea!!! Hahaha, thanks!

Playfulinnc: I think it is unconstitutional, which is why I think they said the reason behind firing me was b/c on occasion I blogged while at work, so "technically" they weren't firing me for the blogs content. I figure it's probably hard to get them legally for that since it's up to the company's discretion to decide what is and isn't appropriate when it comes to using the computers for personal use. I don't think I'd really want to go to the trouble anyways, all in all it wasn't an incredibly horrible exerience working there until this happened.

Buck: If you would like to call someone you don't know a drunk slut b/c she pokes fun at her fondness of boys and bars, then I feel sorry for you. In fact, saying mean things about anyone you don't know who has never had any ill will towards you is just sad and doesn't say very much about you as a person. Please don't bring your negative attitude into my blog.

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Andrew Smash said...

Bad deal. I have lost a job under similar circumstances - I started a very minor photobook/humor 50meg site (yeah it was a while ago). The company I worked for (a local restaurant chain) got worried because they thought that people might somehow wander onto my site and confuse it with the official site. I still managed to get a year of unemployment out of them so it wasn't a total loss - not as bad as yours definitely - but it still sucked. Honestly, we need some legislation that is a little less pro-management. Seriously, when you can get fired for not toeing the company line, something stinks. Also, staple removers....much more painful, easier to insert, much harder to remove. A little free advice.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Unemployed Blogger said...

Andrew, do I even want to know how you discovered this useful advice? Staple removers... I'll keep that in mind, hahahaha!!!

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger Merujo said...

I feel for you - I was unemployed for nearly 9 months last year after losing a job under really creepy circumstances (unfortunately, I didn't get severance or unemployment.) I hope you find a new, rewarding challenge very soon!

I think it's tough road, if you are a young person working for a very conservative organization with Hill ties, yet you live the fairly normal life of a 20-something (I'm guessing you are younger than me by many years!) in DC. Young, single folks will enjoy the company of other single folks (that's how they eventually become older married folks) and the social atmosphere of bars. I don't think my life in my 20s would have looked all that fabulous to a conservative employer.

If you plan on continuing to blog - and blog about an active young social life - consider who you take on as your next employer very carefully. It would be sad for a writer to have to consider self-censorship. Better to find a work community that understands blogging is not evil. Took me a while, but I found one. :-) I wish you all the luck in the world.

 
At 10:09 PM, Blogger Doc Think said...

IGFB/cOMB- this totally sucks for you. I am so sorry that you were raked over. Don't beat yourself up, though. I am an old person who was 20-somthin' before there was an Internet and I am scandalized that:
1. Employers are in your personal life and will fire you for said personal life. And,
2. Folks post their exploits in a public forum.

Here's the thing that you sadly learned, the Web is not private--even if you don't think anyone is *really* interested in your sh*t.

On the vindictive side, I hope that the jerk who identified you to your company gets theirs. Frickin' tattle-tale. Who does that stuff?

On the mature side, take this time to review your significant talents and find out what you want and get THAT job. It worked for me when I was "resigned." (also, that mean buck should go away.)

You rock!

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger Unemployed Blogger said...

Thank you to both Merujo and Doc Think for the kind words and advice! I do plan on continuing to blog but will probably just do so here, where I am trying to keep things as anonymous as possible so no one can trace it back to me. And I will never, EVER blog on the company dime whenever I find permanent employment...

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger NON-WORKINGMONKEY said...

Hello from a fellow unemployed person. I was not fired because of my blog, because it is about being unemployed. I did have another one at the time though and would have blogged at work, had I had time. Which I didn't. Which is why I am not unhappy to be unemployed.

anyway, all power to you and that.

NWM

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger TreyZ said...

They should not have fired you. However, your ass would be working as a file clerk without access to any computers and a reduction in pay if you ask me; but you did not!.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Dj Kenada said...

You think that is bad?
I got fired for talking about 9/11 and trying to prove to my boss that Federal Taxes are voluntary!

He said "The things you are saying are scarring people, there is no where in the country I can put you were you will not scare people!

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger tda said...

You are unemployed because of your blog.
I have a blog because I am unemployed.

http://ambitiousandfunemployed.blogspot.com/

 
At 1:24 AM, Blogger vishnuprasath said...

Better Jobs for a your career and get an Higher Postition to post your CV & Your Profile soon!
apply jobs for india

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Wow this is awful! I'll have to be careful.

 

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