Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jinxing the Jinx

The last time I was at the public library, back in August, I checked out about five books. I've been slowly working my way through them. As always, some are better than others.

But the one that I've been reluctant to pick up and read is this one:

Fired!: Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed by Annabelle Gurwitch.

It's not that I didn't think it would be a good read. I love bite-sized real life stories like these.

I was afraid to pick it up. Because I'm superstitious, and I thought that if I read a book about getting fired, it would happen to me. I can't afford to be unemployed right now: I just bought a house. The thought of losing my job in this brutal economy was horrifying. I just couldn't risk reading that book.

But I overcame my superstition and opened it up last week. So far, it's mildly entertaining, and I have realized that my superstition was all for naught. Most of the "firing" they talk about in the book is either the kind of temporary part-time jobs you have as a teenager or student; or Hollywood firing. And Hollywood firing is a completely different animal. Those people choose to work in a volatile field where they fight and scrap for any kind of work in the hopes of striking it big. It's worlds away from the boring, but safe, cocoon of tenured academia that I live in.

Reading the stories made me feel all smug about the fact that I'd never been fired from a job. But then I remembered my very first job.

I was sixteen, and needing money to buy a car, I walked down to the nearest grocery store to apply for a job as a bagboy. When I went to hand in the application at the customer service window, I passed out in front of the manager. I was really nervous and he was interrogating me. He asked me all these hard needling questions, like what hours I wanted to work, and I folded under the pressure. I woke up a few seconds later with a group of people huddled over me. The manager took me into his office and called my dad to come pick me up.

I figured there was no way I’d get the job, but a few days later a different manager saw my application and called me. He interviewed me over the phone and hired me. After school, I walked the mile down to the store to report for my first day of work. I worked four hours bagging groceries. When my shift was over, I didn’t feel very good, so I went into the manager’s office to sit down. Then I threw up all over the floor.

When I reported for my second day of work, I was refreshed and ready to go. The manager, who had witnessed me faint and puke in the two times he’d worked with me, eyed me suspiciously. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked me. I assured him I was healthy and read to work. Then he explained that the company had just been bought out by a larger supermarket chain. It wouldn’t be worth it for him to train me, since he didn’t know if there would be layoffs. (Even his job was probably in jeopardy.) So he laid me off. He wasn’t lying about the company getting bought out. It was all over the local news that day.

So after passing out and throwing up, I was laid off from my very first job after four hours of work.

As far as I remember, that's the last time I was fired.


I may be taunting fate by writing that, but I think the fact that I'm writing about the superstition itself will protect me. If I say I'm afraid of something on my blog, it won't happen. The superstition goes both ways. I'm jinxing the jinx.

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