For as long as I can remember I've had trouble holding onto a job. When looking back, I've often wondered where it all stems from. I will address common areas where some will cast blame. On my childhood, my parents and family members, that I was picked on as a kid and didn't have supportive friends. Perhaps my bosses, co-workers or the work environment. Maybe even my spouse or my kids. For every job I have a perfectly good reason why I could point the finger at someone else. In the end, I only have myself to blame. The unanswered question is why?
I'll share with you my experiences, what I've been through and do my best to represent the facts as they are, not as I'd like them to be. Perhaps in sharing this I might be able to help myself along with others who may be experiencing similar issues. In sharing some of my experiences I'm in no way looking for sympathy or anyone to feel sorry for me. That will not help me solve what has eluded me for years. If I can't be honest with myself how can I expect to find the answers.
I grew up the youngest of three in a middle class family. Both my parents were intelligent, college educated, career individuals who stayed with their same employer throughout their professional career into retirement. They were financially responsible, well respected in the community and had numerous friends. Things looked pretty good from the outside but inside the home it was a mess. My siblings and I hoped for a divorce and by the time I was twelve it happened.
As a child of the 70's, by todays standards, there were signs in my school performance that would have indicated problems in the home. I was a mediocre student at best. My mind was always elsewhere thinking of the things I'd rather be doing instead of what I should be doing. Homework and studying didn't fit with what I was interested in. I didn't act out in school or get into trouble. In fact, I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I was tested in all sorts of ways to determine if I had a learning disability. To my parents surprise I was determined to have an above average IQ with a high capacity for learning and remarkable memory. As a result of the findings and my performance I was held back in the forth grade in hopes that I'd catch up.
The relationship I had with my father was that of fear. He was a strict disciplinarian who relied on methods of negative reinforcement and a leather belt. Among many others,"Stupid" was a name I heard most often along with "You'll never amount to anything." Spankings were always bare bottom and often behind a locked door. His level of frustration would determine the duration unless he succumbed to exhaustion first. Aside from my school performance I did what I could to stay out of trouble, to stay unnoticed, do not speak unless spoken too. In later life we were estranged for over thirty years. Only a few years prior to his death did we reconcile.
My mother was also one to spank and utilize the negative but never took it to the extreme my father did. She was stoic, unattached, and uninvolved. Physical or emotional comfort or reassurance were not within her capacities. More often I was told what I couldn't do because I was lacking in this or that. The best I could hope for was to be a garbage man was her form of encouragement and a constant reminder of what I had to look forward to in my future.
My siblings, both girls, and I didn't fight much. We were each two years apart with me being the closest to the second oldest. We shared common ground on our feelings about our parents but didn't share the same approach by our parents to raising us. The oldest didn't experience much in the way of harsh discipline or negative feedback. The middle sibling enjoyed a close relationship with my mother but also feared my father for different reasons than I. Most of our lives my relationship with them has centered on our feelings about our parents, primarily our father.
The neighborhood was full of kids ranging in all ages. Quite often I'd be engaged in a pickup game of some sort along with ten other kids. I didn't have a lack of friends. They were close enough to be aware of the situation at home, which also meant they seldom came over. Despite having acreage and a large level driveway for basketball, mine was the house to avoid. I eventually learned in my youth to avoid conversations about home, it only drove people away. Making new friends became difficult but not unwanted.
Throughout my youth I was dissuaded from pursuing my interests for one reason or another. Although I managed to graduate from high school, I lacked the influence of learning a trade or working a family business as both my parents were professionals and didn't have time for hobbies. I had no interest in college and believed it wasn't an option for me as I lacked the habits to be a successful student. I tried to join the Coast Guard but was declined as I had a condition in my knee they said would be worsened by the rocking of the boat.
The first job I landed after my junior year was a summer program at a federal fisheries research lab. We performed grounds maintenance but I quickly advanced to an assistant lab position. I enjoyed the work earning the name of "Sparky" as I was quite energetic and always asking for more to do. When the program ended I was recommended for a position with the department of conservation. During my senior year I worked afternoons cleaning fish tanks but quickly tired of the job and quit.
I took a job with a grocery store and tried to maximize my value as an employee by learning as many departments as I could in hopes of increasing my pay from minimum wage and perhaps being promoted, neither of which occurred. I then worked for a retail store stocking shelves and eventually transferred to the snack bar. I was working with my girlfriend who was later accused of shoplifting. While feeling a need to defend her I got involved where I shouldn't have causing me to be fired for the first time.
Out of school and out of work, living with my mother and sleeping all day I was forced to get a job or be kicked out. I worked fast food at a chicken place for a week. I absolutely hated it and the only qualifier for the job was that I could sign my name on the application. Later I found a job in a factory making moving trucks. Although I disliked the job I excelled at the routine of production. Within 6 months the company began laying off workers and so I quit that job too.
Now in my early twenties I took a position in a hospital working as a lab tech. My brother-in-law, a doctor, recommended me for the position. I excelled at the entry level work being promoted to my own sub department handling specimen referrals within a short while. I enjoyed my coworkers with the exception of my boss, whom I found to be lazy and lacked respect for. Within months I visibly lost enthusiasm for the position and subsequently lost the job.
I returned to another warehouse job working this time for a text book supplier. Again I excelled working different departments and was eventually promoted to a night shift department manager. Things seemed to be going well for me. I got married, had a decent job, had been promoted. I felt valued. Riding the wave I applied for another promotion within the company that would mean the day shift. The position was offered to an individual who I felt was less qualified than I in on-the-job experience. What she did have though was college credit hours. As a result I felt betrayed, as though I was more deserving than her, and my affection for the job quickly diminished. After 18 months of employment with the company I gave my notice even before I had another job lined up.
The next position I held was with a small research lab that manufactured water quality testing equipment. Once again I felt re-energized, a fresh start, and again I was cross trained and given jobs of greater responsibility requiring particular attention to detail and careful calculations. The company lacked room for advancement though and was clearly not growing. I realized there was no future with this company and finally decided to enroll in a surgical technology trade school. Considering my track record in school I felt that I needed to focus all my efforts so I gave my notice. I was with the company less than two years.
I quickly figured out that I needed money while in school so I took a part-time position working for a friend who managed an automotive repair shop.The surgical tech program was an accelerated course offering college credit hours along with potential job placement and was completed within a years time. Clinicals were performed at both public and private institutions allowing a sampling of the work environment for both the potential employee and employer. I sampled the private sector first and enjoyed it immensely. The public teaching hospital was the last in my rotation. I observed things there that make me fear teaching hospitals to this day. When I graduated the manager of the shop had left and the owner offered me significantly more money to manage his shop than a surgical tech position would. By this time I had a kid on the way, and so I chose the money.
I stayed with the company a little over a year. There was no advancement opportunity and the shop was struggling. My buddy had gone to another repair facility with multiple locations and seemed pretty happy. seeing this I took a managers position with the same company as he. With this company I managed to improve sales and services so much that I received recognition at the company party along with a significant bonus. Never had the owner done that before which seemed to annoy other managers including my buddy. Having set the bar so high, I couldn't maintain the same level of success the following year as sales fell short of expected growth. I fell out of favor with the owner and subsequently quit the job. I was there a little over two years.
Later I took a managerial position with another shop in a small town nearby. The company had three locations with mine being the smallest. My immediate boss was the owners son who lacked much of any education or judgment. I say that because it was his location I took over. Again, I made the shop a profit center by improving services and sales. I got along with my bosses son but I found him to be quite annoying and didn't enjoy being around him. Later I was asked to train a local guy whom they wanted to turn the shop over too which meant my time was limited there. Sure enough the owners son fired me after I made it clear the new guy had no knowledge of either the industry or vehicles and would be a poor representative of the business. I was there less than two years.
After a few months and not having any luck elsewhere I was able to convince my last employer to hire me as a shop hand in another shop until I was able to find something else. So I went back to the same company I was with and was quickly promoted to assistant manager within months. This lasted until I found the manager was stealing from the company. I approached the owners boss explaining what I witnessed and informed him that it was not an attempt at getting the guy fired. I didn't want his job and was in fact trying to get out of the industry. He confronted the manager who in turn stopped giving me hours. That was his way of firing me without actually doing so. I lasted six months there.
After a number of months I finally took a position with a full service car wash as the general manager. It was a successful business that was experiencing declining sales. The owner was a well educated, financially independent former college football player at a D1 college. This was someone whom I respected highly and admired, and the business I potentially could own at a later date. I averaged nearly 70 hours a week, never took a vacation and would go into work sick. I was determined that this would be my avenue for success. I wouldn't put myself in a position to lose the job. In doing so, I focused all my efforts on being the model employee to the detriment of my family.
By now I had three kids, a wife who refused to work and mounting bills and debt. I buried myself in work so as not to lose the job but I was losing my marriage. I was in the fifth year of the job when may marriage fell apart. My wife was a bitter, angry women who did all she could to stick it to me including financial ruin. The pressures of a failed marriage began to impact my performance at work. During the next year I began experiencing panic attacks, I couldn't concentrate. Eventually the owner asked for my resignation or a twenty thousand dollar pay cut. In the midst of all this and on the verge of losing everything the pressure got to me. My relief would come in the form of an attempted suicide.
Failing isn't always a bad thing. I failed to end my life, but I came damn close. So close, the doctors prepared my family twice during my recovery that I the odds were against me. My sisters, my mother and step father and even my father came to my aide. My recovery took over a year and a half in which time I also found religion.
Eventually I was able to return to work, however the only work I could find was managing another shop. This was a large company with a corporate structure that seemed to suit me. Again I out-performed previous managers and found success where I was. My immediate boss and I had a good relationship. So much so I thought, he'd seek my input when he lacked the knowledge or understanding of complex business issues. Eventually though, I came to resent that I was more knowledgeable than he. Eventually I was let go from my position. I was with the company less than two years.
After some months I again took a position as a service writer for another small family owned operation, and again I found myself at odds with the manager. While other employees disapproved of him, I found myself engaging in and entertaining those conversations about him. I felt I had a better business plan to offer and he lacked judgment. I the end though, he was my supervisor and I talked myself right out of a job that I didn't want to begin with. I was there less than a year.
During a year long unemployment I looked into all kinds of trade schools. I searched high and low for those things that interested me in hopes of finding a job I could stick with. Nothing I could find stood out, and I was advised to stick with what my experience was in if I had any hopes of finding work. With that I took yet another position as an assistant manager for a new auto service company in town. The manager and I got along well although we had our moments. We opened a new store together and after eight months he was transferred to his hometown location. By this time I've been in the workforce over 20 years including management positions within the industry and other companies. This was not qualification enough though to be the new manager. Instead, a young man was recruited from another state who had no management experience and only a year in the service industry. As time went his supervisors were asking me to perform his job duties such as book work, etc, as he was weak in those areas. My response was they should have offered me the position. In addition, the new manager asked me to lie about damages caused to customer vehicles for which I refused. As of seven months ago, I was let go from that job.
I want to break this cycle. I feel I'm trapped in an industry that lacks emotional, intellectual maturity. I've completed a mortgage lending class and passed the SAFE exam that I may be a mortgage loan originator. The hurdle I have now is finding a company that will hire me. I'm tired of looking for jobs, I'm at an age where companies are looking for younger talent. The last thing I want to do is take a job I know I don't want. I feel before I can do anything though, I need to understand what I'm doing above others that costs me my job. I don't have a substance abuse issue or attendance issues. I tried playing hooky only once and felt so guilty I didn't have a valid reason not to be at work that I lost sleep for days. Where am I failing and how do I fix it. Why can't I keep a job or is the more appropriate question, how do I find the right job?