I lost my job about six weeks ago. Well, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t lose it. I know exactly where it went.
You see, I gave someone a second chance and it came back to bite me. It could all make for ripe fodder for a Lifetime movie. We would need a catchy title, something like Behind the Ledger: Her Secret Liability and Meredith Baxter would have to play me because, well, just because.
I can laugh a little now because the absurdity of it all lends itself to farce but there is nothing funny about it. A lot of people that I still deeply care for are suffering greatly. These are people I’ve shared my days with for a long time doing some very hard work for folks in great need.
I miss these good people more than I can put into words but there have been so many exquisite words from them in the past several weeks that have saved me. Phone calls, emails and texts – some of which would make the Baby Jesus cry.
After a late night round of emotional texts with a long time colleague who said, “You know me better than anyone – I would rather lose an arm,” it struck me that I was in the surreal position not unlike attending my own funeral. I felt like I was listening to a series of eulogies every day.
It was rather wonderful and it was truly awful.
It has been tremendously gratifying to hear that I have made a difference in the lives of many of the people I’ve worked with for over a decade. I know I tried to but those intentions don’t always convey.
I’m not a conventional boss. I smiled typing that last sentence knowing that anyone who has ever worked with me will bob their head up and down when they read it.
I don’t like to be micromanaged so I have never done that to others. My mentor and beloved friend, Phyllis, was a big proponent of the weekly To Do List when I worked for her years ago. She wanted to know what her staff was working on each week and even though she was more intimidating than me on her weakest day, she always appreciated my style and instead of squashing my independent spirit, she nourished it.
Years later she would joke, “Addison would always turn in her To Do List but it might be on the back of a cocktail napkin.” Phyllis let me be me and it worked out quite well for both of us and the organization we represented.
I’ve always tried to emulate Phyllis as a manager but I’m sure I’m really more of a Phyllis-Lite. I tried to nurture and appreciate each staff member’s unique skills and gifts but I imagine that she would have been more discerning about that second chance than I was.
I’ve always tried to be the kind of boss that people can talk to about personal problems, too. And Lord knows, over the past 11 years, I’ve been through divorces, illness, births and deaths with these folks. These are the ties that truly bind and this is why so many of us are grieving.
As one of my closest colleagues wrote just the other night, “I know more about you now just in seeing what your people miss and are reaching out for.”
Yes, my people.
Some of the messages have been angry, many of them have been sad and others so sweetly genuine. I heard that one of my younger staff made an impassioned defense of me by saying among many things, “Addison wrote me a note when my grandfather died and when my dog died. And I don’t mean a Facebook note.” I love this and the memory of it will always make me smile. (I never met her grandfather but I really loved that dog.)
You’re probably wondering if I regret giving that second chance since it was ultimately my own undoing. I’ve thought about that a lot the past several weeks. I certainly regret the pain and havoc that a misguided malcontent has wreaked on so much of what I have loved for so long.
Every fire has a point of origin and even Fire Marshall Bill could trace this one.
Someone told me a heartfelt story about how they had been the victim of someone else’s maliciousness and I believed them. I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. I chose to not hold someone’s past – fact or fiction – against them.
I remember my dear and devoted former CFO, who retired a couple of years ago, shaking her head at me one day when I gave a staff member a pass on something and saying, “Addy, you always give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” I wanted to take her observation as a compliment even though her tone was more scolding in nature.
I try to live my life by the Christian principles that I believe in. The God that I love is a God of second chances. I know this because I have been the recipient of many of them. And the agency that I gave my heart and soul to for so many years is dedicated to creating second chances for people who have never been afforded that luxury.
I truly believe that this is what we are all called to do.
President Zachary Taylor once said, “I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me.”
While I admire his sentiments, I think I’ll claim executive privilege on the question of regret for now.
And I hope I have many more years to serve my community but I most certainly know that I will never work with a more compassionate, committed and crazy crew of characters if I live to be a 100.
13 thoughts on “Inside Job”
Addison, your blog always makes laugh, cry, snicker, shrug but most of all feel. I’m so sorry you are going through this – to be blunt it just sucks when mean things happen to good people, and you are good people. Sorry I missed you in Columbus but Ian had a blast and if you keep writing – I’ll keep reading…thank you for sharing and I will be sharing this with a friend going through kind of the same thing – I was meant to find this for a reason….usually I see these and go back later but today something said “read me…now!” ….see you are still influencing lives …for the better :).
hugs to you both!
How very sweet to hear from you! Yes, we missed you, too. And we’ll miss Columbus. Heading to see Mary Courtney in CA soon! Please keep reading – I’ll keep writing! Thanks for the sweet words!
Addy, I wasn’t sure what happened, but I still can’t believe that they could let someone like you go. I’ve rarely seen someone with the level of passion and dedication for their job and the good that they do through that job. You were Triad Health Project, and while i’m sure it and its mission goes on without you, it’s certainly missing a big chunk of its heart. Hugs, my friend!
Sweet Jen – Thanks so much for the kind words. You nailed it, one of my staff told the board, “You’ve cut out the heart of THP and left the cancer.” The truth is coming out like a tsunami every day. I’m grieving the loss deeply but I have moments of being very excited about the future. I’ll take those hugs for sure!
Addison, we just found out that you’re no longer w/ THP – no details, just that you’re gone. Keith found your blog post and forwarded it to me and I thought I’d post a note to you here since I don’t have your personal email address. Anyway, I hope things work out for you (when one door closes…). If there’s anything I/we can do, please let me know. Take care!
Scott – So very good to hear from you. The truth is coming out daily – it always does. I’ll certainly miss working you great guys (and women) and I’ll always be grateful for your tremendous support of the agency. I’ll send you my personal contact via email. Please give my best to everyone there!
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Addison you have your priorities straight. And as they say….a door closes and another one opens…..
Thank you, dear Lorrie. And thank you for your great support of me – and THP!
OMG Addison!!! I just heard about this via a post from Jeff Prince. I am in disbelief, stunned, angry, and for the first time in a very long time, at a total loss for words to describe the outrage I am feeling!!!! I have been there every Monday night for testing and no one has said a word to me about this. You were amazing in your role at THP and grew that agency tremendously. I have worked with THP going all the way back to when Wendy Levine was a volunteer herself (and trained me) so I know exactly how much that agency has grown under your direction. Trust me, I will be having words on Monday!
You are an amazing woman with excellent credentials and I am certain you will land on your feet quickly! I am so sorry that this happened to you! I have been the victim in similar circumstances in the past. Please don’t ever let your ability to give second chances be dampened or diminished because of this. Yes, sometimes it does come back and bite you in the ass. However, more times than not, those second chances are what really turn peoples’ lives around. From experience, it is very tempting not to give those second chances. But I would rather get bit in the ass yet again, than to not provide a genuinely deserved second chance.
Keep that chin held high! You are a class act. Your position at THP may get filled, but you are one whose shoes, and void, will never be filled.
Dear, sweet Dale – Your kind and generous words are a balm to my broken heart. I gave my heart and soul to THP for 11 years. You can’t give more to a job than that and I am very proud of my accomplishments. One of the things I will most about my job is working with our wonderful volunteers like you! Your positive energy brightened every Monday
evening and you made everyone feel so comfortable and welcome.
I got burned with this second chance but that’s on him – not me.
I hit post too soon! Thank you again for your affirming words – they mean more than I could ever express.I do hope our paths cross again. Take good care, my friend.
Hey Addison I tried to post a comment and it would not – I’ll try this test and see – if this goes through I’ll try again!
I have to approve every comment before it posts. This prevents any spam or ugly comments. It’s a nice feature on this site because it allows you to easily dispose of evil spirits!