Loyalty apparently means very little to some. I have spent the last 10 years of my life employed with Clinton County. I worked in the jail for five years and for the past five years I was employed as a 911 dispatcher. All of that came to an abrupt end on January 2nd of this year. What a way to start off 2013!
Allow me to tell you the story. On New Year’s Eve, 2012, I had plans to go to Louisville to hang out with a friend. Having just worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas night, I was ready for some time off of work. New Year’s Eve came around fairly quick after Christmas had passed and I found myself en route to Louisville to unwind and have some fun. I hadn’t had the best of days lately so I was definitely ready for this mini-vacation.
I get to Louisville and started drinking in preparation for the evening’s activities. We had plans to go to a local establishment that had several bands playing so it was going to be a great night. Part of the package deal was there was a shuttle bus that was going to take us to the bar and return us safely at the end of the night, so there was no worrying about needing a designated driver. Sounds like a great night, right? WRONG!
I got a text message from the dispatch director saying that there were a couple voicemails left for me saying that I needed to work that night because someone had called in sick. I checked my phone and there were no voicemails. I figured out later why there were no voicemails; my voicemail hadn’t been set up. Some of you who are friends with me on Facebook might remember the screenshot I posted awhile ago of the voicemail prompt that kept popping up on my phone. Turns out, it was wanting me to set it up. I thought it already was.
Anyway, I didn’t get the voicemails but I did get the text message. I replied to the text immediately and told the director my current situation. She advised me to make contact with other people to try to get someone else to cover the shift because one of my coworkers called in sick, leaving the shift short. To this day, I still don’t feel like that should be my responsibility, however that’s not how they see it. Regardless, I attempted to make contact with everyone who wasn’t already scheduled to work that night. Guess what, nobody could cover it. No big surprise there as it was New Year’s Eve. That’s when I sent another text to the director telling her that nobody else would cover it. In response, this is what I got; “If you are not here at 7 there will be consequences.” That wasn’t going to happen given my then current level of intoxication combined with the fact that I was three hours away and it was snowing like crazy.
I had made up my mind that I was going to take the “consequences” at that point. There wasn’t much else I was going to be able to do anyway. Not unless they wanted a dispatcher working who had already been drinking. I could have been killed on the way into work. I wonder if they would have fired me then? I’m getting ahead of myself here. Anyway, after I made up my mind that I was going to stay safe in Louisville, the rest of the night I had a great time. We rode the shuttle bus to the bar, consumed some more adult beverages while listening to some great live music, and at the end of the night we were shuttled back; safe and sound.
I didn’t hear anything from work the next day. I guess my coworker who had been ill stricken had made a miraculous recovery and was able to work the following day. Hallelujah! I went about my normal daily routine, living the dream and being awesome. Spent the day in Louisville having fun. The next night I was to return to work at my regularly scheduled time. Night came and I returned home. I finished up a load of laundry then went to bed; like normal.
The next evening I prepared to work like I had for the last 10 years. Took a shower, got dressed, then made that 20 minute drive north to work. I got to work early; as usual. Set my things down and got my notepad and pen like I had hundreds of times before. The director was there as was my supervisor. I already sensed what was going on, or so I thought. Just before it was time for me to take over and receive pass-on information from the day shift I was called into the office. As I sat down in the chair across the desk from her I was mentally preparing myself for a write up and quite possibly a couple days suspension. What I heard though was COMPLETELY different than what I thought I was going to hear. She told me that I needed to gather my personal belongings and my supervisor would escort me out of the facility because they had to terminate me.
Just like that. Done. No discussion. I was fired because of a violation of our very loosely written on-call policy. You see, in that policy it says that they cannot restrict our movements or our activities. It certainly seems that they don’t mean that literally at all. Basically what it means is if we’re on-call, we’re expected to be at their every beck and call. We were never compensated for being on-call. There were no perks for being on-call like having a take-home vehicle. We were just expected to stop our lives and do whatever they say. Either that or be on the business end of an axe if we pissed someone off. Since I had already exhausted all other potential employees to cover that shift, the directer herself had to work the night of New Year’s Eve.
Over the past five years as a dispatcher, I have signed up for hundreds of hours of overtime. Volunteering to work on my days off to help cover shift shortages. I have volunteered to go to job-specific training to become a better dispatcher to help serve the community as a whole. Was I the best dispatcher to ever key up a mic, probably not. But I was damn good at what I did. If an officer called in on the radio; I answered them. If the public called for an officer; I sent an officer. If the public had an emergency and needed an ambulance; I got an ambulance to them. Every. Single. Time.
I might not have liked that job or the people I worked with every single day, but who does? Working as a public servant is an extremely thankless job. Any of you reading this who work in that profession know full well what I’m talking about. But that doesn’t mean I appreciate being tossed to the curb like some bum who didn’t know what he was doing. I’ll take my loyalty elsewhere if that’s what it takes. I’m hoping to find somewhere who will appreciate my work ethic, my drive, my dedication, and my loyalty. I’m sure there’s somewhere out there looking for an employee like me.
I’ve been mulling this over in my head for a little over a week now. I wasn’t sure whether or not to share this story at all. But I finally grew tired of people asking me questions because they heard something from so-and-so who heard it from so-and-so. This is it. Cut and dry.