They almost never use the actual word. Fired. They prefer more sanitary, dignified phrases like “terminated.” At least that’s what Mrs B. said when she unwittingly destined me for a lifetime of unfulfilling employment (for both me and my employers). I’ll never forget that day. The very first time I got fired. I walked into work one day, and there it was – the pink slip. Literally. My head began to swim. This can’t really be happening, can it? My eyes scanning the page for the words “final warning,” but to no avail. This was the real thing – terminated. I was suddenly aware of the presence of a dozen or so coworkers. 28 eye balls mercilessly burning unspoken shame into my very soul. Now I understood why silence had dropped as they all watched me walk to my work station.

What do I do now? How will I survive? Who’s going to hire someone who’s been fired? What will my family think? I felt my future crumbling. The humiliation. The embarrassment. My life will never be the same.

I felt flushed. I felt faint. What’s that near my eye? Is that a tear? I’m crying?

Deep breath. Breathe, Jim.

Right then and there, I pulled myself together and I told myself, “Enough!” Never again will I allow someone else to infringe on my dignity. Never again will I allow a “superior” to determine my value as an individual. No corporation is ever going to determine my worth!

I sat on Mrs B’s garage floor and I folded those papers like I had a purpose! Each rubber band surrounded the neatly creased newsprint with a defiant SNAP! I filled up my paperboy bag, placed it on my handlebars and I peddled like HELL! I was in the zone. I was perfect. I would show them! I porched each and every delivery on my 36 subscriber paper route – which I had worked up from 32 just 5 months earlier!

As I rode home, I consoled myself with one thought. “I’m the best damn newspaper boy the Chronicle has ever seen. They’ll miss me. I’m going places. They’ll see. They’ll see.”

I can’t quite remember what I was fired for. But, who remembers details when they are 11 anyways? Gimme a break.