It was December 24th, 2000. I was working as a Team Coordinator (Team Lead) at a Call Center at the wise old age of 17 years old. I thought I was a pretty great guy, and a pretty awesome supervisor.
The utter turmoil of the call center I was working in was such that, despite me being a “Team” Coordinator, I had no actual team. I was really more of a general floor supervisor – meant to police individuals who weren’t taking phone calls, and look for people who were on perma-break.
Being sometime later in the evening on Christmas Eve, the phones weren’t exactly ringing off the hook. I found myself pacing back and force between several dozen rows of agents. No one was on the phone.
At one point, I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye a website of “adult” tendancies appear on an agent’s screen. No one was sitting on either side of him, and it was clear that whatever he was doing, no one else would have seen him. I didn’t even know his name.
Going into super-cop mode, I stealthily walked around from one row to the other, quietly and quite literally sneaking up behind him. Unsure whether the visit was accidental or intentional, I was hesistant to act without knowing the circumstances.
I didn’t have to wait long. The call-center agent, a man probably in his early early 20′s, clicked a link, taking him further into the red light district. The site was a veritable plethora of nakedness!
I immediately approached the agent and asked him to come with me. He immediately responded “OH man! I wasn’t doing anything, man!”. I insisted he come with me. Despite this, he continued to politely argue that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and that there was no reason for him to come with me.
Eventually, he decided it was in his best interests to follow me. I had another supervisor accompany me to a conference room where I promptly told the employee that the company had a no-tolerance policy for pornography in the workplace. In fact, the company’s policy was no personal internet-surfing at all in the work place, not even e-mail.
For these reasons, I broke the news to him that I’d have to let him go. I told him I had no choice. He pleaded with me left and right. It was at this point that I found out he was due to be married (confirmed by several of his “friends” later on) in just 2 weeks. I told him it didn’t matter, I still had no choice but to let him go.
We discussed it for several more minutes – “What will my fiance say?” “What am I going to do for work to support a new family?”. There were several questions like this. Being 17, I had no understanding of these things, and therefore had no appropriate response other than “Sorry, you broke the rules.. gotta let you go”.
The other superivisor led him back to his desk to retrieve his things, and led him off the premises. I never saw him again, and honestly don’t even recall what he looked like.
I’m sorry I fired you on Christmas Eve. At the time, I thought I was making the right choice. As I have grown up a little and understood what it means to be a responsible person, man, and father I have come to understand that I maybe didn’t make the right choice.
I’m not sure what the best thing would have been. Maybe I should have simply looked away and not given it another thought. Maybe I should have just come talked to you for 60 or less seconds, and asked you to make better decisions at work. Maybe I should have even suspended you.
But I regret letting you go on Christmas Eve, two weeks before your marriage. I am certain I made your Christmas worse that it should have been, and I likely put you in an awkward position in regards to your fiance.
Don’t get me wrong, my guilt is not centered around your mistakes. I think you suck for looking at those kinds of things 2 weeks before your wedding. That’s simply not how it’s supposed to be. That’s hardly honoring your wife-to-be or remaining faithful. And you definitely weren’t being a responsible person, man, and father. Sorry, but you really weren’t. And that I’m sure of. No responsible person goes and breaks obvious rules at work, especially such risky ones.
But I’m not your judge, and for all I knew you were a first-time-offender who just needed some gentle guidance, at which point who knows, maybe that would have been the first, and only time you ever made a stupid mistake.
So, for that, I’m sorry. I’m sure you’ll never read this blog, but hey, at least I’ve tried to apologize.