Monday, 9 August 2010

This is how we repay dedication

So I was fired yesterday.

For those keeping track, I had 2 weeks left, as agreed upon in my 8-weeks' notice back in June. Instead, I was informed at 4:30 yesterday afternoon that my services were no longer required, and I was to be out of the museum as quickly as possible after the close of business (5:00).

30 minutes' notice. That's got to be some sort of record for dismissal without cause.

The official excuse is that the museum is all but in foreclosure, and the bank informed them that if they didn't immediately fire all employees, the bank would repossess the building.

.... so when your business is floundering, the people you owe money to tell you to get rid of your only means of making money?

(Also, having seen the documents from the bank, I can tell you that they have another month before the bank provides the 60 day foreclosure warning. I was only there for another 14 days. I'm going to call BS.)

More than the excuses, however, was the sheer asshattery of the situation. I was handed a print-out of an email sent from a board member to his significant other, who then forwarded it to another email address. I was given 30 minutes' notice to clear out my office and remove any of my belongings - which included items on sale in the gift shop, lighting which Vellum had provided for the exhibit, and items on loan which were to be returned upon my departure.

I was insulted for daring to be upset with the situation. The board member assigned to make sure I didn't steal anything informed me that I would never make as much as I was making there ever again. I just laughed. What do you say to that? I was being paid slave wages - barely enough to subsist on - and devoting everything I had to the museum. I worked 6 days a week for that museum. I worked a second job to remain at that museum. I spent $1400 on exhibit materials, and was only reimbursed for half of that - because I wanted the museum to succeed.

I could have done temp work for a year and made more money, working fewer hours, with less stress.

She implied that I should be grateful to have been paid for so long. "Being paid the agreed upon salary is not a privilege," Vellum helpfully informed her. Apparently one of the board members was subsidizing my paycheck for the past few months. And? I did not ask him to. He did not have to. On behalf of the museum, I thank him. On behalf of myself, I shrug. If he wanted gratitude, he shouldn't have fired me. And perhaps should have paid me on time.

I was harassed for checking the safe for my belongings. I was harassed for daring to be offended at their offer to let me stay on as a volunteer. I was harassed for being offended that they would throw me an elaborate going away party but not provide me with more than 30 minutes' notice that I was being dismissed. I was harassed for daring to have jury duty on short notice last week.

Ultimately, I should feel some sense of triumph. In the end, I win. The museum will be closed within a matter of months, if not weeks. Without me, there is literally no one to run the museum. I have been in control of absolutely everything there for the past year: they don't have passwords to the email accounts or the website; they don't have the current membership list; they don't know the first thing about the exhibit or the artists in it; they don't know how to sell the items in the gift shop; they don't know where anything is kept; they don't know who's lent the museum artwork in the past, nor do they know where to find the information for current lenders; they don't know how to answer the visitors' questions. They are absolutely in the dark, and they don't even know enough to ask for any of this information.

So I win. Everyone knows that I kept that museum alive for a full year longer than it should have lived, and everyone will know that because I was dismissed, the museum closed. But all I feel is depressed that all my hard work was so summarily dismissed and disregarded. I worked hard to keep the museum open, keep visitors coming through the door, and keep them happy and impressed. I worked hard to generate exhibits with no budget. I worked hard to make the museum the best it could be with nothing to work with. But because I didn't pull $400,000 out of my ass, I failed.

I created a detailed instruction manual on how to run the museum, with all the information a stranger could require to effectively manage the museum. But this manual sits, ignored, on my computer, because I was only given 30 minutes to turn over my keys, and the reins, to the museum. I couldn't possibly have any information that they would need. I couldn't possibly provide anything the museum requires.

People suck.


Vellum said...

Some people suck more than others. I can think of a couple right now.

clio's disciple said...

That's despicable and appalling. I shared your story with my partner, who agrees, and wonders if their behavior is even legal. It might not be worth your time to investigate, though. In any case, I'm sorry they're jerks.

Chris Laning said...

Yeah, some people DO cut off their noses to spite their faces. Sorry to hear you got that treatment.

I suppose that if they are inevitably closing, they would think that they don't _need_ your passwords, your instruction manual or anything else because it will all just go in the trash anyway. But they certainly did NOT have to be this nasty about it.


Anonymous said...

Check your contract, if you got one, and see what obligations it puts you under in re, you know, handing back passwords and so on. They may have to come back to you and it would be good to know, at that point, what your negotiating position is.

But pfeh, what a bunch of goons to work for. You would seem to be well out of it. When it fails, what will happen to the inventory? Will it go to creditors?