Tales from the
week was the week I got fired. Now that was a kick in the gut. It still
hurts. It hurts in particular because of the way it happened, but perhaps
more on that later in this piece, after I work through how it happened and
lick my wounds a bit more.
there are no hard stats that I’m aware of on the number of building
superintendents fired, laid off or let go and replaced each year in New
York City, I’d be willing to bet it’s in the thousands. It happens a lot.
It happens sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad. Occasionally no
reason is given at all. But it does happen with frequency.
with it. In due time we move on to a new life and job - hopefully a better
one - after learning all we can.
varying degrees in our work as supers and other building maintenance
workers, we all slog away with the approval or disapproval of the
managers, management firms and condo or co-op boards who hire us.
those who are union members, it’s a little harder to get fired, but not at
all impossible; it can and does happen often. Non-union workers are at the
mercy and whim of the people you work for, from your immediate boss to
those above him or her, and to the strength of your relationship with
them. A strong working relationship with him or her usually helps and
often is the glue that holds it all together. But even despite that
strength there will be times you find yourself on the outs with a board,
or having to deal with a change in ownership or management, or finding
that an attempt to seek common ground on an issue has gotten away from all
“Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad
are a thousand different reasons for moving out the door, or for that
matter for giving an employee a gentle push out the door.
supers and resident managers it’s a double whammy. Since most New York
City building superintendents get an apartment as part of their
compensation package and work situation, you are up for a change in work
environment AND living environment all in one fell swoop if you lose a
all the possibilities of a really traumatic situation for everyone
involved, to say the least. That is, IF it’s not handled quite delicately.
Sometimes even when it is.
even more so if you have a family and they must move to a new apartment in
a new neighborhood and attend new schools simply because YOU lost your
job, for certainly they did nothing to deserve this. The blame game can
get played to its fullest.
no doubt that the experience can be very tough, both on you AND on those
closest to you.
very time you need each other, both can be hurting so much that you either
turn on each other in anger and fear of what the future may hold, or you
turn away from each other in resentment and an inability to express what
you’re feeling, and drift apart. Either one of which can be fatal, and can
lead to a family tragedy of epic proportions.
not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win
or lose." -Lyndon
when it does happen, how to react well and make it work for you and your
loved ones - not against?
very least, for a short time, there is a sense that you want to retaliate
in some way. It doesn’t work, nor does it help the situation. You just
need to move on, to get another job, and resume your life.
overall bad attitude is what got you fired, the first thing to do is work
on that. This is not an easy fix, or a quick one. It may be true that your
bad attitude comes from having, and cultivating, the wrong reaction to
what life throws at you. It isn’t what happens to you - but how you handle
what happens to you - that defines who you are.
you were in an impossible work situation and saw no way to save it, you
will, if you allow yourself to feel, find that you grieve the loss. It can
be quite like a death in the family; it is certainly a new beginning under
similarly to the death of a close friend or spouse or family member, you
experience grief. Psychologists who have studied people going through
these traumatic life changing experiences tell us there are five stages of
grief: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance.
time I’ve experienced profound loss - even when it was expected as in the
death of someone very old and close to me, I found it well worth my while
to try to understand and work through those stages, allowing myself some
time to experience and feel each one before moving on to the next.
stage is a component of how you will react; the only difference between
you and all the others who’ve experienced these stages is the length of
time you spend in each one. Some of your reaction depends on your
personality, and you can’t quickly change that, if at all. Most of how you
deal with it all is up to the depth of determination you muster within
yourself to deal with whatever life throws at you.
“There is no
squabbling so violent as that between people who accepted an idea
yesterday and those who will accept the same idea tomorrow.”
back to the reasons for this drama. Long story short (and I understand
full well that this is just one perspective): the board wanted to take a
big, expensive step that I felt was singularly ill-advised, not to mention
asked by my manager and board president to express my unvarnished
viewpoint (on how it would turn out) when prompted, to enumerate all the
reasons why it should not be done, and to put forth a viable alternative.
I don’t yet know if they agreed with me, yet somehow thought it would be
better received coming from me than from them, or if there was some
angling to use this incident against me.
almost doesn’t matter, because either way the outcome is the same -- the
only reason I’d like to know the truth about that is for the lesson I
might learn for the future.
Sometimes you don’t know how many it will take to whip your butt, but most
of the time you do know exactly how many are going to try – this time I
up and expressed definitively what I thought and believed to be the best
answer, wanting to be neither dishonest to myself nor a shameless shill
for the Board. A certain Board member, who must win whether by hook or by
crook, disagreed strongly and said so publicly, and demanded my public
I did as
requested, laying my cards on the table and once again said my piece
honestly and openly. It wasn’t well received. Apparently strings were
pulled, favors called in, arms twisted. Politics gets nasty when
individuals believe there is much at stake. Especially if the only thing
really at stake is their pride.
“To remain young one
must change. The perpetual campus hero is not a young man but an old boy.”
pretty. It never is. But here I am. A big boy, somewhat battered and
bruised again; sadder, wiser for the incident. A bit more jaded, cynical,
battle-weary and -scarred, tiring of the game. Wondering if it was worth
it. But allowing myself to feel, to breathe, to be.
getting geared up for an alternative future. Next!