She had every expectation of a phone call that morning. Mouth still singed with coffee, she barely missed a beat when the buzz came and put on her best dressed smile to pick up.
“Good morning,” her boss said, without missing a beat, “I’ve been looking over your work for the last year and it made me think of promoting you.”
This was not what she had expected. “Oh that’s great news Mr Willoughby!”
“Yes- well I don’t like the way this is progressing so I’m terminating your contract.”
Mr Willoughby sighed down the phone line.
“I can’t breathe,” she gasped.
“Let me explain,” Mr Willoughby replied coldly. “You see our company has all the power.”
“I see,” she stuttered, trying to regain her composure “so would it have helped if I asserted myself more?”
“No if you hadn’t been so polite and amenable and the model employee, we’d have fired you sooner.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I’m sorry it doesn’t make sense to you,” Mr Willoughby harrumphed.
“But I thought I was doing well- I passed my appraisal with flying colours- I don’t understand.”
“You don’t understand the company values.”
“That’s just something we like to say when we fire people.” There was a pause down the line. “Look why would you think you had a place at this company?”
“Well… there was a contract? But I suppose that doesn’t mean anything.”
The rage was quick and swift. “How could you say that! Are you calling this company into disrepute?”
“No, no, I didn’t mean that. I suppose you were serious after all.”
“No, we always had our doubts about you. We think we can do better.”
“Oh. So, you have someone else lined up for the position?”
“No,” Mr Willoughby replied too sharply. “There is no one else.”
“But you have an idea of someone you’d prefer?”
Another beat of silence passed. “Look, we’ve said everything we needed to say. Your work was not good enough.”
“Oh god I’m not good enough!”
“I don’t understand why you’re taking this so badly- this should galvanise you to go and seek other employment. We could advise you about career opportunities if you’d like?”
“Oh no, please don’t!”
“There are lots of opportunities at our company- a position has just opened up in fact- would you like to apply?”
“This is insane- I’m hanging up now.”
Now it was Mr Willoughby’s turn to gasp.
“But I thought we could continue to share business contacts! I don’t see how that’s possible now!”
“No,” she agreed, calmer than she felt, “that’s not possible.”
Willoughby hiccupped, breathing heavily down the line.
“Are you… crying right now Mr Willoughby?”
“You were a wonderful employee,” he said, the sobbing intensifying.
“Okay, well I’m sorry it had to end this way, I’m going to go now.”
“Aren’t you going to tell me I was a good boss?”
She hung up.