Yesterday, I wrote about how the Ministerial Life mobile’s latest hiccup made me appreciate my family even more. As I worked on that post, I realized that there was a much more interesting story involving my car that I had almost forgotten about partly because it was a bit disturbing to think about. For those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning, you have probably seen a few references to the professor who fired me for reasons including my weight and my insistence on doing a lot of reading for a research job. However, my car also played a pivotal role in the event.
On the day before I was fired, I ended up getting into a pretty bad altercation with my then manager. There is no need to actually go into details about the conversation, but when it was over, I was distraught. I talked it over with a few coworkers and mentioned to them that I would probably be submitting my letter of resignation at the end of the week because no amount of money was worth being treated like that. I even said “If Bill Gates was paying me millions of dollars per year and talked to me like that, I would quit.”
I finally made it back to the car and called my mom (on my bluetooth headset for those of you who know about NJ’s cell phone laws). She, of course, was heated as well. Just four weeks earlier, we thought that this particular job had been a blessing from God. After all, I had been admitted to Rutgers with no funding and this professor had promised to fund me for the rest of my time as a student there. All I had to do was get through this project. I liked everything about the job except for my meetings with this professor, which usually amounted to me having to sit through a series of taunts and putdowns. It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore.
As I vented to my mother, I noticed that several of the alert lights came on in my car. By then, it was snowing. I decided to pull over at a nearby convenience store and give my car a chance to rest before making the drive the rest of the way home. Unfortunately, the car had other plans. AAA came and eventually towed it to my repair shop for me.
The next morning, I quickly rented a car so I could get to work. (For those of you who are wondering, I live just far enough outside of Philadelphia for public transportation to be an issue. Besides, the combination of trains that it would take for me to get to Camden, NJ is actually more expensive than driving.) By some miracle, I still managed to get to work on time even after dropping off my car keys with my mechanic. That was my priority since I wanted to resign on good terms.
When I first stepped in, my coworkers who heard me venting the night before admitted they were surprised to see me. I let them know that I was still weighing my options, but that I had already made up my mind that I would not be working for this professor after this semester had ended. Before I could say much more, the professor came and pulled me into a meeting with some other research partners. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation.
“So I heard you were having some car trouble,” the professor said.
“Yeah,” I replied, “My car broke down last night on my way home. It’s at the shop now though.”
“That’s why I dont drive used cars,” the professor said. The professor then proceeded to go through several stories about their many luxury vehicles that they have owned over the years. The reality is that the professor never asked me about how I had gotten the car. Keep in mind, I had received it from my cousin/pastor who bought it when it was still pretty much new. This wasn’t anything unusual for this professor. By this time, I expected just about anything coming out of the professor’s mouth to be some sort of personal attack.
“Well, this is the first real problem I’ve had with the car since I’ve had it,” I continued. It was true. The car had served me well.
“What kind of car is it?” the professor asked.
“2004 Ford Taurus,” I replied.
“Well, that’s why I don’t drive American cars,” the professor said. The professor then continued with a series of horror stories about American cars before touting the value of exports.
“Actually, this new generation of American cars is much better than prior generations were,” I responded, “Especially when you consider the global market. There’s a pretty thin line between American cars and imports these days when you consider that companies like Toyota and Honda both have plants in the US while General Motors has alliances with several companies in Europe. The result has been better overall quality.”
The research partners nodded in agreement. I had been trained previously in a strategic management department. In spite of my insistence on conducting nonprofit research, I still had a bit of a fascination with the auto industry. It was relevant to my new field considering that the early period in the Obama presidency included a bailout to Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. In hindsight, the professor probably viewed my display of knowledge as an act of defiance. The meeting immediately took a turn for the worse and I was rudely ejected from it. I quickly proceeded to write my letter of resignation, but it was all for nought because the professor fired me within a few hours.
In the end, the Ministerial Life mobile’s minor hiccup led to the conversation that ended up being the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I was upset about it for a little while, but I am finally accepting that God has a way of allowing us to go through bad experiences in order to bring us into new things. After all, I wouldn’t be blogging or consulting if that job hadn’t fallen through. Even though I wish things had turned out differently–especially considering the drain on my finances–I am still thankful for the way things are right now and I am excited about the future. I just hope my future doesn’t include more nightmare bosses.