‘Bitter Is The New Black’ Contest Winners

March 10th, 2006 // 20 Comments

Oh my God, where to begin!? I laughed, I cried, my mouth was agape in shock. Thanks to the over 100 people who emailed in their stories, I was up half the night reading all of your fascinating entries. We picked out our favorites. The winners have won a copy of Bitter Is The New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-centered, Smart-ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster. Congrats on winning the book, and condolences for what you had to go through in your various work experiences.

There are so many stories that we don’t have the space to publish here. However we feel that there are still some amazing, shocking, and hilarious stories that need to be shared. So, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be posting one of those stories a day.

We’d like to thank NAL Trade for sponsoring this contest, and if you didn’t happen to win, please purchase a copy of Bitter Is The New Black, it really is hilarious.

Go grab a cup of coffee, sit back and read the three winning stories (in no particular order) in all of their unedited glory, are as follows:

Story Number One:

My first job out of college promised to be a glamorous one.  I was to be an event planner at a large and promising high tech company; I would plan events and then travel to places like Miami, Paris, and South Africa to oversee them.  I did make it to Miami, New Orleans, and the lovely Orlando, but all those other glorious places promised me remained only promises, partially because my boss did not like to fly.  I learned quickly that if she couldn’t fly, I would not either.
 
I survived only two and a half years in that job, and only planned 3 events myself in that time.  The rest of my time was spent making copies, sending faxes, and sorting lanyards so that our event attendees could wear their badges around their necks.  My boss, who lost no time telling me all the gory details of her colon disease, was a short woman with bleached blond, dull, and frizzy blond hair.  Her face and body were puffy from overeating and medicines for said disease, and she wore boxy, faded clothing, and, most loathed of all…scrunchies.  She thought we were friends.  She asked/ordered me to come work from her house, requested adjoining hotel rooms whenever we worked at events, and insisted that the doors be left open so that we could “have fun”.  I endured all this with quiet annoyance, looking for ways out but unsure how to complain to my boss that the “quality time” we were spending together was unwelcome.

The story continues, after the jump.

When I was finally able to make it understood that a boss/employee relationship was all I was interested in, she made it very apparent that we were no longer friends.  My tasks became more and more administrative, and I began receiving 2:00 am emails requesting tasks first thing in the morning.  This exploded when I finally went to her manager regarding my position, and was told, once my boss found out, that I was on trial for 12 documented complaints, none of which had ever been brought to my attention before that point.  Her manager smoothed things over and assured me I was in no danger of losing my job, but when, months later, that manager left the company, the danger loomed over my head larger than ever.
 
Finally one morning in January of this year, I was told my services were no longer needed.  My scrunchy wearing boss proceeded to announce in a team meeting, that she had “let me go”, contacted all of my true friends within the company (none of whom she had ever acknowledged in the office before) and tried to befriend them so as not to make them angry over my departure.  It became apparent that not only had she done everything in her power to “let me go”, but had tried to convince other members on our team to do the same.  She requested that her employees and my peers talk to her superiors about my failings and issues, but not to “make it seem personal”, and slandered my name by making up stories, including one that had me showing up with a hangover to work on multiple occasions.
 
The day that I left that office for good, it was as though I was walking on clouds.  The weight of my boss’ oppressions was lifted and with that experience came the feeling that I had never felt quite so relieved.  The beauty appeared at my desk gushing that she would miss me, and would love to be a reference for me, promising to say nothing but nice things, which I could only assume meant she wouldn’t make up any stories to tell my potential new bosses.  I only smiled, neglecting to tell her that I would have to be tied up in a torture chamber and missing several appendages before I would ever give anyone her name as a reference.  As she stood there, wringing her hands within her too long sleeves, she began telling me how much she would miss me, and then the tears began to flow from her small beady eyes.  I merely allowed her hug, calmly patted her back, and tried not to pull out her scrunchy.

Story Number Two:

I was fired from my job at verizon as a operator over my pregnancy. I got pregnant and everything was fine for 2 months and then I started having a very high risk difficult pregnancy. First I got hyperemesis that’s where your throwing up so much your dehydrated and your baby is at risk along with your self. I tried everything.

The dr gave me regular nausea pills didn’t work, the dr gave me 2 weeks off work to rest didn’t work, then I had to take nausea medicine they give cancer paitents that cost $2000.00 for 15 pills (luckily I had insurance and only had to pay $20.00 co pay) that also didn’t work. So me trying to be a good employee and verizon is very strick with taking time off, I tried to go in to work, but they’d send me home cause I was in the bathroom so much. Finally it got so bad and dangerous I had to have a IV in my arm at home and had to do home IVs and have a nurse come to my home. That finally did help for about 3 months but I couldn’t go to work with a IV in my arm, and I had to drive 45 min twice a week to my high risk dr to get stress test, and 75% of the test I had to go to labor and delivery for contractions to be stopped.

Then I got kidney stones very bad. I was at labor and delivery almost every night with contractions and going into labor from the pain. Finally I couldn’t handle all the pain with the kidney stones and it wasn’t good for the baby with me suffering and going into labor so much, so I was admitted to the hospital and put on a morphine drip. (I know very bad for the baby, but my choice was keep handling the pain like I was and keep going into labor and eventually have my baby very premature or take the pain meds and be in the hospital monitored and on bed rest wich the dr choose was best) Even on the drip I was in so much pain I eventually couldn’t handle it and they had to do surgery on me AWAKE with only a numbing medicine they give you when you get stitches, they cut me on my back where the kidney was cut through my skin through my kidney put a wire and a tube in me all while I was awake screaming my head off in pain. They had to do that operation twice while I was in the hospital to drain my kidneys from swelling up so much. I also had 4 surgerys to remove the kidney stones wich I got a spinal for so didn’t feel that pain. But during all of that my pain medicine go upped to diladid drip (1mg of diladid = 10mg of morphine very strong) Finally it was just to much the pain the procedures the premature labor I kept having to get stopped with magnesium the high blood pressure so at 34 1/2 weeks I had my baby boy.

He was healthy, not addicted to the narcotics (neither was I) and came home with me the next day. I had him on 1/27 and got fired on 1/31 for taking to much time off work. Despite I had Drs orders that I had to be off due to the high risk pregnancy and me working gave me a very high risk of misscarraige, and me actually being in the hospital for most of my pregnancy and going through all I did, I was fired for following drs orders and choosing to do what I had to, to give my baby any chance at all to live.

Story Number Three:

Before returning (gratefully) to grad school, I worked a series of menial retail jobs…somehow falling into bridal sales as my specialty. I did an 8 month stint at David’s Bridal (horrors!) before jumping ship to what I thought was a cushy, snooty high-end salon where I wouldn’t have to bust my balls for a 500 dollar sale. The short version of this story is that I was fired from said snooty salon for having ethics. The long form follows below:

I began work at “Jillian’s” (not their real name) in August of 2003. “Jillian” herself was an eighty-year old who still wore mini-skirts…are you familiar with the type? Nouveau -riche trashiness exemplified. She was insufferable. But I took big grains of salt every morning before I left for work and grinned and bore it because I wasn’t working nearly as hard as I did at David’s.

I should say right now that my position was sales associate. Nothing higher. I made 8 bucks an hour with a 2 percent commission on every sale. I was not a big cheese. I was also repeatedly told I should do something with my hair, given shoes that were more “appropriate” and used as an example by Jillian to motivate her poor daughter to lose weight. (yick, is all I can say to that one) When I wore skirts, extr effort was made to tell me how “nice” I looked, and when I succumbed and got my hair highlighted? The fawning, oh my god the fawning! (and it looked awful on me, my husband hated it and my friends made fun of me) This job began to really beat me down.

In October of 2003, a friend from David’s came in to look at dresses and I helped her to find a dress that literally made her gasp. She plunked down the half deposit with no hesitation whatsoever. It was a beautiful dress. A beautiful 2800 dollar dress.

Time went by. Carrie’s wedding was scheduled for August. It was common practice at the bridal salon to hold onto people’s money for as long as possible before they placed the orders. So I know for a fact that they did not place the order until late November.

Around March, Carrie starts calling with cold feet about the dress. It wasn’t the type of dress she expected to fall in love with, why is it taking so long, can she back out, etc. I sidestepped her issues because at this point there wasn’t much she could do, the order was placed, she was responsible for the dress.

More time goes by. She calls some more, I evade, she calls, I evade.

Freaking May rolls around (it has taken that long for the dress to come in, wouldn’t you too be freaking out?) and the dress is FINALLY delivered. At this point in time the store is not doing so well (possibly having to do with Jillian’s rampant insults of her customers). So Jillian and Megan (Jillian’s woeful daughter) began hounding me to get my friend to pick up the dress immediately so that they can collect the balance. I dutifully call Carrie at the number she provides and leave messages all excited that her dress is finally here.

She apparently doesn’t move fast enough for money hungry Jillian, who then instructs me to call her at work. Now we were not given her work number as a contact. The only reason I would know the work number is because, hello! I’m a friend of her’s from David’s Bridal and I know the number to my former employer! So I am forced to call my former place of employment with Jillian, Megan and two other sales associates surrounding me and shouting what I should say. I speak to my former manager who is as confused as hell about why I would be interrupting Carrie’s workday with this information, then I am put on the phone with Carrie. As Jillian and Megan shout in the background, I am forced to get all serious with Carrie and demand that she pick up her dress immediate;y. Carrie is shocked at my tone and I am near to tears about being put in this position. I hang up, run back to the back room and immediately place a call back to David’s and apologize wholeheartedly to Carrie, saying “That wasn’t me, they were telling me what to say.” “I couldn’t figure out why you were being so mean to me!” Carrie replies. She tells me right then and there that she doesn’t want the dress, and I told her I had no say in the matter.

I come back up to the front where Megan meets me to show me he draft of the REGISTERED LETTER she has written, threatening Carrie with legal action if she does not pick up her dress and pay the balance. She writes, “Per your conversation with Theresa on Tuesday, we are writing to inform you…blah blah, threatened legal action…blah.”

I am floored. There were no words. And I was 23 years old, I hadn’t learned to call someone a bitch when they needed it.

Mind you, the girls wedding was in August, so by rights, she didn’t have to pick up the dress….til August!

On Friday, Carrie calls the store, having just received the registered letter. I tell her sadly that my hands are tied, i can’t help her, these are my employers. She says don’t worry, she’s got her fiance on it. 3 hours later, she and her fiance storm into the store with the copy of the letter. Joe is threatening to go to Fox News, how dare they treat a bride like this before her wedding! I am called to the front and Jillian asks me a number of loaded questions to justify their actions. I am truly caught in the middle. My employer is staring me down. My friend is staring me down. I sputter something and run to hide in the back.

In the end, Carrie took the dress. I was called back to the front, steaming and furious. Jillian tells me, “Your friend Carrie has some real issues.”

I don’t say a word and stare straight ahead.

“I know you think you’re mad at me but you know I’m right.” she simps.

I say nothing. I am crying hysterically.

“If you have nothing to say to me, why don’t you go home.”

I do.

At home I consult with my husband and with my parents. We formulate a strategy for the next day (Saturday, our busiest day). I am going to march into work with my head held high, go into the office, shut the door and lay it out for them. I am not to be put in that situation again. I am a sales associate only, i am not to be made to call people to collect money, I am only what you pay me to be.

I walked in that morning. “Well Miss Theresa, are we doing better today?” condescends a sales associate.

Immediately furious, I launch into an unplanned defense of myself. Megan the manager walks in and begins simpering her side of the story. As the shards of my plan fall around me, I am drawn into a huge argument in the back hallway with the three of them against me. I am crying and yelling in full view of the customers and I am aware so I keep trying to duck into a room. But they won’t let me and keep at me until finally Megan sends me home to, “Calm down.”

I go home and get back into bed with my husband. I have off on Sunday and Monday,

Monday morning I am awoken by the sound of Megan’s voice on my answering machine.

You guessed it. She is firing me…on my answering machine.

I taped it, here’s what it said.

“Hi Theresa, it’s Megan. It’s about 11:30 on Monday. I’ve been thinking about the…conversation we had on Saturday and I think it would be best if we…ended our relationship and…terminated your employment. Sorry it had to end this way…I just really feel strongly about this. We’ll mail you your check.”

I was fired via answering machine message.

I sprang into action, filing for unemployment. When the state office called and listened to my story, they awarded me the full compensation I was due. I collected unemployment the whole summer before I moved to Philly for grad school. I also found out the day after I was fired that I got an assistantship to grad school paying my full tuition.

So, at the risk of sounding a bit bitter.

Fuck Jillian. I think I’ve proved I am so much better than them.

By Miu von Furstenberg
  1. WTF?

    To the first storyteller…why didn’t you bother to find another job instead of putting up with that? Your boss is NOT allowed to slander you to potential job offers. She, can NOT, by law, say anything negative about you.

    Second storyteller…I can’t believe such a big company like Verizon treated you like crap! Enjoy your baby.

    Third storyteller…I have nothing to say…

  2. Second story teller- from your story sounds like you have a number of causes of action. Please consult an attorney in your State and inquire about Family and Medical Leave Act or temporary disability.

  3. j

    For anyone that is interested, I had a horrendous experience with Verizon as well. Not only did I have a problem, but when I quit so I wouldn’t get fired, there were quite a few people compiling info to possibly start a lawsuit against them for similar issues. They offer Short Term Disability for situations as mine and storyteller #2, but then they deny any claim unless you are dead basically. And then when the ins. co denies your claim, Verizon fires you for attendance issues. One of the employees looking to start the lawsuit had a very similar story to story #2 – so needless to say, this is an ongoing issues with that company!

  4. j- for future reference, its always better to get fired rather than to quit, that way you can collect unemployment!! Your story makes me want to change phone carriers!

  5. Correct me if I am wrong....

    I’m only married to an attorney…I’m not one. The family leave act is for 3 months leave of absence. The majority of the time, the leave is without pay, but they can not fire you in that time frame. Anything beyond three months is open to termination? Not that it is fair at all. Especially in cases like storyteller #2!!!!! You’d think Verizon would be more of a PC company since it’s so huge.

  6. martha

    To author of story #3, are you kidding me? First of all, you exacted absolutely no revenge on Jillian and her groupies. In fact, they got the best of you and I’m sorry to say, it’s a pathetic that you are seeking sympathy! Welcome to professional world, honey. Those people are a dime and dozen and that will not be the last encounter you have with women or men of that stature. Additionally, (since I am a tax payer) I am so glad that I helped pay for your summer of fun before you began grad school. I hope you a great time spending other people’s hard earned money to frolick in the sun and not have to work.

  7. dra

    To number three -that really sucks. My ex-bosses were complete bitches and I was in a very similar situation. You’re better off out of there and even though you never directly got to tell them off or have any kind of revenge, dont worry, people like that have it coming..i wish you the best of luck..

  8. excel

    wow. #3 that place you used to work at sounds a LOT like the bridal shop i bought my dress at. congrats on grad school! you will find it’s worth it!!

  9. Yeah

    To WTF?

    It is not illegal for a past employer to say anything negative about you, it is illegal for your past employer to say anything slanderous about you. Slander isn’t simply someone saying something negative about you. Slander is when someone says something untruthful about your which hurt you or your career/life. Slander suits get thrown out of court all the time, because it’s not slander if what the person is saying is the truth.

  10. luxlarue

    Martha-

    Yeah… it’s pretty pathetic when people try to get sympathy when it isnt due. Theresa, you better get on your hands and knees and thank Martha for having the heart to pay for your ‘summer of fun’ with her hard earned tax money.
    Im sure she appreciates the lesson darlin’, but schoolin’ her on the hard knocks of life is something I am *sure* she has come to know. She’s 26 years old. So spare your condescending “welcome to the professional world” attitude. Honey.
    Truth is, she was mistreated, she worked in a sh*it enviroment, but hey, we’ve all been there- CLEARLY. It doesnt seem like she had a problem until she was made to go outside her job description, right into her personal life. Jillian and Meagan were acting quite immature.
    And no, she didnt get revenge on Jillian or her “groupies” by say, burning down the bridal shop. Maybe no revenge is the best revenge. But, I say going on and bettering yourself at grad school is pretty damn good.

  11. Theresa

    Luxiarue,

    You rock. Thanks for backing me up. You said everything I wanted to say in response to Martha but was afraid of elicting a flamewar. I appreciate the support and yes grad school is the best thing that ever happened to me. Living well is the best revenge.

    Theresa

  12. Martha

    Luxlarue,

    Thank you so much for putting me in my place. You’re right, the woman in story #3 is only 26 years old. Hold on a minute, I just want to check my driver’s license…Holy crap! I’m 26 years old as well! A 26 year old able bodied person should not be collecting unemployment compensation, a program set up for people who truely need the assistance. The woman openly admitted that she was not even looking for a job while waiting to attend grad school. If people make the decision not to work, that’s great (I wish I could do the same). I just do not want to be contributing to their bi-weekly spending allowance if they do not have sincere financial needs.

  13. christy... fired from verizon over pregnancy

    hey im the girl that got fired from verizon over my pregnancy. I went to the labor board but they said since i wasn’t working for verizon for a year im just tough out of luck. My boss actually made me use my PFL (paid family leave) during my pregnancy and kept telling me that however much i used while i was pregnant was going to be deducted from after i had the baby. So that stressed me out so much thinking im going to have my baby and HAVE to go to work the next day to keep my job. It was a horrible expreience very stressful and it made my pregnancy worse. I also forgot to say they pressured me so much to resign they said it would be better for me, but when i said how would it be better if i would loose my insurance, have to go on medi cal, I would have to start all over with different drs i wouldn’t have any income i would loose my car from not having income and it just wouldn’t be good for me. They even called me in the hospital to talk to me about resigning and talked to my mother about it. I did try to fight it though the labor board gave me a letter so i could get a attorney but in the end i just wanted to be with my baby and not have to go to court and spend money when there was a chance i wouldn’t win, and i didn’t want to go back to work for a company that treated me like that.

  14. #3. If you want simple and justified revenge, just switch “Jillian” to the actual store name and address so we (readers) are sure not to patronize her establishment.

    F- her. Let this be a lesson to people who sh*t on interns and young assistants coming up. One day they will be your contemporaries, or your bosses.

  15. Passport Junkie

    Martha Martha Martha – 26 years old and THAT mature huh? clap clap.

    Theresa WAS working and therefore DID pay tax – I dunno, try and think of it as her paying for herself in advance. She is also studying now which I guess you can construe as her INTENTION to work and pay TAX in the future.

    I would suggest not flaming someone when they find themselves in a difficult situation…. You may need the support of the welfare system yourself one day – or are you irreplaceable at your place of work?

  16. Ldysunfyre

    Martha:

    The employer picks up the tab on the unemployment check, not the taxpayer.

  17. LadyBug

    Lydsunfyre, thank you. Martha is a fucking loud mouthed, self righteous idiot. Theresa did not try to get over. And at least she sounds like a genuine sweetheart…as opposed to some people around here. I probably would have reacted similarly, and having the attitude of “welcome to the real world” is trite, trifling and just stupid. Those women were plain old crazy. If that is the world you want to live and work in, then fine. I would appreciate a “real world” with more people like Theresa.

    Best of luck Theresa.

  18. Sarah

    Also, Martha, coming from someone who at 27 had to file for unemployment due to being laid off, you do NOTHING whatsoever to contribute to Theresa’s unemployment benefits. These are BENEFITS which one earns the right to claim for working a certain amount of time in the state in which one lives and is employed.

    Educate yourself on the difference between unemployment benefits and welfare before you start calling people out for using, as you said “a program set up for people that truly need the assistance.” You do not contribute to others’ bi-weekly spending allowance(s), you contribute to your own.

    Karma’a a big BITCH honey. Sometime in your life you will be laid off and need to file for unemployment. Better think twice about criticizing others for doing it.

  19. Maychen

    Sprint is as bad as Verizon. I was an operator, too. I had a really hard pregnancy, lots of bedrest. I went into early labor several times. Sprint would only let me keep the mug they gave me (a small one) on my desk. If I got up between breaks to refill it, they got mad. I wound up dehydrated and in early labor. A few weeks later, I came back to work with a note from my doctor saying that I had to drink at least a gallon of water a day. I was 7 months pregnant and got chewed out for going to the bathroom twice in an hour. So I tried to hold it and went into early labor again.
    I got so stressed while I was pregnant (I was also working six days and supporting my ill mom and my brother by myself, and the baby’s father and ran off and got married in a foreign country…) I went out on stress leave. Sprint didn’t believe that I was stressed, so they suspended me without pay “pending investigation” of my illness. They sent security to my door, and I had to see two doctors of Sprint’s choosing to confirm that I indeed, was stressed. This all happened through December so Christmas was ruined. I honestly thought myself and my sick mom and brother would be on the street.

    After the baby was born, they wouldn’t give me family and medical leave to take her to the hospital (I had used it up by then) when my sister-in-law called crying that my baby had a high fever and was throwing up. I had to walk out unexcused.
    This went on and on (for almost ten years) until I finally took off and never went back.
    I was terminated for “job abandonment.”

  20. Stephanie

    As an employer, I’ll let you guys in on something…employers pay for unemployment insurance. So the unemployment insurance pays for unemployment. As for #3′s story…if you were only making $8 plus commission, it seems as if you could have easily gotten a different job in a more positive atmosphere – if you would have tried. I believe people who complain about their jobs are just too lazy to go find a better one. Obviously, now you realize this and are furthering your education. Congrats.

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