By Blake Friis
Tomorrow morning I will go to work. Under normal circumstances there would be nothing special about that statement, but there was nothing normal about the circumstances under which I was fired three weeks ago.
I was driving home, an easy residential drive I count among the many perks of my job, when I received a call from one of our HR representatives. She asked if she had “caught me at a good time”. I would later find that an interesting lead-in when calling to fire someone. I told her I was driving home, and she insisted we speak when I got home because she doesn’t like distracting people as they drive. As the father of a 9 month-old, the car is actually the best place to secure my undivided attention, but she was adamant we speak after I arrived home. There is no “good time” to receive news someone refuses to share while you’re driving.
It is difficult to describe the feeling of being fired from the job you love, over the phone, 45 seconds before walking into the house. It leaves you with no time to digest the news, search for a silver lining, and contemplate the best way to break the news to your wife. Instead you are left to shuffle through the kitchen, into the living room where your wife is ready to hand you a smiling baby, and drool the words down the front of a button-down shirt about to hibernate in the closet until further notice.
I just…lost…my job.
It’s devastating to be in that position. It’s especially difficult when you have no answer to the obvious question that follows.
Actually, I had an incomplete answer. I failed a background check. I wasn’t sure how, but I had a hunch. An hour later I received an e-mail that confirmed my suspicion.
Seven years ago I was the victim of identity theft. The crimes flagged on the background check were committed by the person who stole my identity and was subsequently arrested posing as me. The events are still associated with me because my name is connected to the perpetrator as one of his known aliases. I guess this is a common practice if you have your identity stolen by your brother.
To my employer’s credit, they held a position for me pending a favorable result to a dispute filed over the results of the background check. The ensuing investigation cleared my name after two painstaking weeks. Two weeks is a long time for a husband and father to sit in a holding pattern, void of income, with the increasing weight of a mortgage bearing down on him.
It’s most important to count your blessings in the moments when it’s difficult to focus on anything but the struggles in front of you.
The healing power of family was on display every second of those two nerve-racking weeks. Despite the disappointment I may have to find a new job, and the awareness that bills need to be paid regardless of how hurt my feeling are, we managed to make the best of a bad situation.
Once the appeal was filed and the supporting documentation was sent to the appropriate parties, we took some time to enjoy being a family with free time, regardless the cause. We ate meals together, took long walks around the neighborhood, and tackled projects we may never have started otherwise. Above all else, we sat on the living room floor and played with our son. Not in shifts, together.
I’m in no hurry to experience joblessness again, but it had its moments. I would love to take another walk with my wife and son, but tomorrow morning I will go to work.