Friday, October 18, 2013

Latin American Travel (and my Job Loss!)


It was November 2011; I was ready to take advantage of my company's accrued and approved 30-day vacation, and was well ahead in my quarterly productivity goals as a workforce development specialist. Therefore, I gleefully clicked the “send” button of an e-mail reminding my colleagues not to refer any new clients for another month. 

The executive director, in a rare person-to-person e-mail, asked where I was going—this time. With excitement, I responded with Miami, Lima, and Caracas. She again followed up with a comment that hinged on sarcasm, and even some jealousy. I immediately dismissed such thoughts as my imagination because my logic strongly dictated that no way could she be jealous! She and makes twice my salary.

In reality, I thought that I was impressing her, not only with my work-performance, but also by spending my vacations in Latin-America improving my Spanish and experiencing Latin-American culture, and thus, better serving my company’s Spanish-speaking clientele. After all, one of the reasons I was hired in the first place was because of my ability to speak Spanish.

However, there was some discussion among members of my predominately black travel group, Nomad-ness Travel Tribe, stating that it is not a good idea to talk so extensively about your travels in the workplace. It can cause some hard feelings because you are living your dreams and others aren’t. 

This, I must confess, is where I’m guilty as sin. One of my co-workers stopped speaking to me altogether. It's not that I was bragging about my travels, but overflowing with joy, excitement, and anticipation. Even my office was filled with pictures, currency, and artifacts from the countries that I’ve visited. 

An African-American CEO who himself, at one time, experienced a nasty termination from a job, is in agreement with my travel group. He pointed out that my company’s management may have been wondering where does this n… (expletive) get the means to do all of this traveling. Wow, I could have told them if they had only asked! I know how to shop for cheap air fares. In fact, I wrote a blog article entitled, Enjoy Travel Without Being Wealthy. The cost of my round trip tickets to Miami, Lima, and Caracas from San Francisco was a total of only $917.

Unfortunately, two months after my trip, I was terminated from my job. Did this have anything to do with the jealousy that I sensed from the executive director's e-mail? Who knows? The formal reason given was the result of “one” honest mistake that I made in my four years with the company. Although, I certainly do not condone or defend the error, my intentions were pure, and I was expecting a strong reprimand, or at worst, a write-up. 

However, the reason given publicly for my termination was that my position was being “restructured” due to downsizing, which made more sense because I was never replaced. Meanwhile, the vacation time of the remaining employees have been reportedly cut. Hmmmm.

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