This story happened back in March of 2015. And, man, everything in my life (EVERYTHING) is different now. As of today, I’m actually so grateful that the story below happened. It made me take a risk and do it all differently. I’ll tell the story anyway because it is a pretty stellar “knock-you-over-the-head” sign from the universe to get out (always listen to these, folks) and it is so insane that when I look back on it now I can laugh at it. Plus, it taught me a lot about myself and my expectations of fair treatment in environments and relationships where I never demanded it previously. Anyway, here it is…
On a gloomy Tuesday morning before work, I was at the gym. While there, an email came in to my co-workers accounts (the email was allegedly sent to me as well, but I never did see it) that made everyone a tad paranoid.
Text Exchange –
Co-Worker: “Kate, did you see this email about the meeting?”
Me: “What email?”
Co-Worker: “R* just sent us an email saying they will be at the offices at noon and we should all be prepared to meet.”
Me: “Really? What is the meeting about?”
Co-Worker: “Not sure. He didn’t say.”
So, I finished up at the gym and headed in to work. When I got to the office, my other 2 co-workers were freaking out. To be honest, I was a bit too because, in my gut, I just knew that the meeting was going to be about me and that I was probably going to be fired (and I had no idea why, but my gut was pretty finely tuned at this point and it was a ‘feeling’). The first part of that ‘feeling’ was spot on, the second part was sort-of correct.
As we were all speculating/breathing heavily, I sent a follow up email asking R what the meeting was regarding and who would be attending. In truly unprofessional (but completely predictable) fashion, I received no response. Come 12pm, the 3 of us filed into the small conference room and the 2 sons and the head designer followed behind us. Of note – the head of the office (their mother) was mysteriously absent and the meeting began/ended without her. The seating arrangement was the three of us working at these offices on one side of the table while the 2 sons and designer were on the other side. You know it is going to be weird when the usual fake pleasantries of conference meetings are met with cold responses (even for detached/unprofessional people).
So they started by saying, “This is the type of meeting we never like to have. And, particularly when it is about the disloyalty of our longest employee.” We all started looking around and wondering who this was about as they continued, “Kate – you have personally attacked our brand. We are so shocked. We aren’t even mad, just totally disappointed in who you are.” I was sitting there thinking this must be a joke (but these kids are the actual antithesis of funny/clever, so it probably ain’t that) because I had NO CLUE what this was about and was wracking my brain for what they could be referencing, honest to God. They continued on rambling that my Instagram account had a picture of me endorsing a running shoe I liked (I was training for a marathon at the time with a running group that was so good to me and had a photo up after an event with them. I have like 10 followers, so the suggested “impact” of this post was actually hilarious). They then went on to mention a 2 month old photo (that they had to scour my feed for) that had a photo of me in Nike Air shoes (that I love and were a gift) mentioning the marathon – not the shoes, not the clothes, just the damn race. Now, neither of them follow me (nor give two shits about my social media, normally) but the head designer followed me at the time, so I can assume he dimed me out? Plus, as his dumb ass would not make eye contact with me for the entire meeting of 6 people, he told on himself. As you can imagine, at this point, I was starting to get pissed while trying to remain professional. Also, I was thinking to myself, “Wow. These guys have so much time on their hands ‘running’ a business, that they are scouring my Instagram feed after the weak ass designer turned me in, and NOW they are making an example of me in front of my co-workers in an office of 3? This feels awesome.”
The part that was hard up and to this point was trying to make heads or tails of the obvious lack of experience they had when it came to discipling an employee while simultaneously realizing how wildly illegal this entire tirade was (also, how hilarious it was for them to keep calling this situation “personal” and an “attack” on the brand). No, dear children of privilege, since I signed NOTHING giving you permission to police/regulate my PERSONAL Instagram account that made ZERO reference to working with your company, the most you can ask is that I do not disparage the brand, which I never did. The rest of this “meeting” was SUCH bullshit, it was laughable.
At this point, the “Imma Let You Finish” portion of their talk was happening in my head and I was begging my temper to chill. As I was trying to keep my attitude at bay, the boys threatened legal action against me personally if it happened again, then they non-sensically repeated themselves over the fact that I was disloyal and some version of an embarrassment or whatever (dunno cause I was tuning it out at this point). After having had enough of this and it being clear that if I didn’t break down, this charade was going to continue, I finally said, “So, am I being fired?” This statement took them aback as old Kate Gaffney was quite the people pleaser and had been allowing the entire company to be abusive since day one of working there, so they probably assumed I’d be a heaping pile of tears and apologies (hahahahahhahahahhahaha – no)? Stammering, their response was, “Well, no, but…. I mean…. the next time it happens…, it is an immediate firing… of you.” I said, “OK. So, that was the whole point of this meeting? To discuss my Instagram account?” R, “…” Me: “OK. Have a good day, guys.” I then stared directly at the designer that told on me as I walked out of the room.
2 weeks later, I turned in my notice and began the most exciting adventure of my life.
Moral of the Story: Just Do It.
*R is the initial for this person’s name as they are a very litigious group and I would like to avoid a lawsuit because, you know…