74: I’m the Hero of This Story

74: I’m the Hero of This Story

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

I’m the Hero of This Story

The whole story is about you. You are the main character.

~Don Miguel Ruiz

“Listen, I don’t think you’re happy here.”

I looked up at my boss, Chip. “I beg your pardon?”

Chip smiled coolly. “I said that I don’t think you’re happy here.”

It was my turn to at least try to smile. “What makes you say that?”

Leaning against a bookshelf, Chip crossed his arms over his chest. “Let’s talk over coffee.”

“All right,” I agreed. I followed my boss to the break room where he poured each of us a cup of coffee.

“What’s up?” I managed to ask after taking a very small sip of the bitter coffee.

“I’m thinking that you’d be much happier working somewhere else.”

“Just what are you saying? Are you firing me?”

Chip leaned back, hands flat on the tabletop. “Firing you? Of course not. I’m just suggesting that you look for another job where you might be happier.”

“I don’t understand why you think I’m not happy. I am happy, Chip. I like my job, and I need my job.”

“There are a ton of jobs out there. I’m sure that if you applied yourself, you’d be able to find something that you’d really like.” Chip got to his feet. “Think about what I said, okay?” He tossed the rest of his coffee in the sink and then threw the Styrofoam cup into the wastebasket. He left the break room, whistling as he shut the door behind him.

I knew my mouth was hanging open, but I didn’t seem to be able to shut it. I couldn’t lose this job. That’s all there was to it. Numbly, I returned to my desk, avoiding eye contact with anyone else in the office. At the end of the day, I waited until Chip had left before heading for the parking lot. I was almost out the back door when Audrey, another employee, stopped me.

“What did Chip say to you?” Audrey questioned.

“He thinks I’d be happier if I started looking for another job.”

Audrey’s eyes widened. “He fired you?”

“No, he wants me to quit.”

“That creep! You know why he’s doing this, don’t you?”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t. I thought I was doing a good job. Everyone seems to like me, and I always get positive work reviews.”

Audrey cut me off. “It has nothing to do with you or your work.” Gesturing toward an empty desk in the corner of the office, she said, “It’s all about her.”

I looked at the desk. It was where Destiny sat, a young woman with dark brown hair and clear blue eyes. “Destiny?”

“Chip wants you to leave so he can give Destiny your job without any repercussions. Don’t make it easy on him. What he’s doing isn’t exactly illegal, but it’s completely unethical and totally unfair to you. Don’t let him get away with it.”

Anger mixed with disappointment, and I felt a wild urge to walk out the office door and never return, but I knew that such an over-the-top gesture would feel good for about five minutes before reality kicked in. “What can I do?” I questioned. “If he wants to, he can make my life pretty miserable here.”

“Just don’t quit. Fight it. I know that’s easy for me to say, but that’s what I’d do if I were in your shoes. I’d fight every step of the way. This is your job. Fight for it. You have to be the hero of this story because no one else can fight it for you.”

“I’ll try,” I promised, knowing that it wasn’t going to be very pleasant to go to a job every morning knowing that my boss didn’t really want me there.

My prediction was right on the money. The next few months were pretty miserable. After seeing that I didn’t plan on quitting, Chip tossed more and more work on my desk. But it wasn’t until someone started leaving employment ads in my mailbox that I finally lost it.

“This has to stop,” I said after marching into Chip’s office and dropping the latest help wanted ad squarely in the middle of his desk.

“What are you talking about?” Chip questioned.

“If you think you can scare me into quitting, you’re wrong. I need this job, Chip, and if you want me to leave, then you’re going to have to fire me. And if you fire me, I’m going to file for unemployment and see a lawyer about an unfair dismissal because we both know you have absolutely no grounds to get rid of me. Now is this harassment going to stop?”

For several long moments, Chip and I glared at each other, but I refused to be the one to back down. Chip finally looked away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he mumbled.

“I think you do,” I told him coolly. “If we’re through, I’ll get back to work. I have a lot to finish.” I left Chip in his office, and even though he hadn’t admitted anything, I had the feeling that the fight to keep my job had finally been won.

A few months later, I found a better job with higher pay and more perks. It took me less than five seconds to accept.

“Great. I know you’ll be happy with us,” my soon-to-be-boss told me.

“I know I will be, too,” I replied since I had learned that I could be happy anywhere as long as I continued to be the hero of my own story.

~Nell Musolf

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