Wednesday, 26 August 2009

You're fired!

After finishing high school and a short college course (which I failed), I went to work at the ripe old age of 18. It was my first job and immediately I was thrown into the deep end: Yougoslavia! All the way by myself. I lasted the season in the Mini-Club and came back home. Stayed for three months and then it was off to Brussels, Belgium for three months as an au-pair. From there it was on to Sicily, Italy and Tignes France, both for six months. And then I had had enough with the seasonal work, I wanted to do something a bit more permanent.

In France I had had a colleague who was from Scotland originally. Andy worked in the kitchen and had worked in hotels in England before coming to Club Med. He helped me compose an application letter (which I completely changed) and I sent it off to six hotels in England. One of them hired me!

I was hired by the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe as a receptionist. It was hard going, especially at first, to alter, to amend, to change all meant the same thing. Other words I didn't know and only found out about when I was there: Christmas Crackers (I thought they were some sort of edible crackers) and Wellies. I learned though and did enjoy my time behind that little desk.

We weren't allowed to read behind that desk. Or knit, embroider, do crosswords or anything else. We had to be on the alert at all times. And that could be so boring! When your shift starts at seven and the first phonecall you get is sometime after midday...

My English improved and in time I even got an English accent. Which in turn caused my downfall. Because my accent might be English, the language spoken might be English, I was still Dutch. After nine months two complaints were lodged against me within the space of three weeks. Both for more or less the same reason: rudeness. I never thought I was rude, but then again, I wouldn't have been considered rude if I had been working in the Netherlands. So what did I do that was so bad?

Someone came up to the desk and had a complaint about something or other. Dutch way: "Thank you, I will note it down and get it dealt with as soon as possible." English way (especially four star hotel English way): "I am so sorry, sorry, sorry, I will get the supervisor, manager, Queen herself!"

Now, if those people had heard a Dutch accent, they mightn't have bothered complaining: I was Dutch and therefore didn't know any better. But because they couldn't hear that, they thought I was just plain rude. So, I got two complaints and a call to come to the manager's office.

I got fired because (here it comes): 'My English was too good!' Have you ever heard such a thing? It must be one of the best reasons to get fired for in the world... All was not lost though: I was allowed to stay in the hotel and pick the department I wanted to work in! I picked the restaurant and worked there for another year and a half before finally returning home to the Netherlands!

So, what was the best or worst reason you ever received for getting fired?


  1. I was let go back in 1978 because I was pregnant. I was running a little flower shop within a mall and they just didn't look it looked right. So I was due in January '79 and they let me go in October. I collected unemployment so it all worked out okay. I actually collected it well after my son was born and I was going to be a SAHM anyway.

  2. I have never been fired but I was not hired because I was 'over qualified'. I always found that to be an odd reason not to get the job.


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!