How I was Fired from Urbansoft

I always say that I never been unemployed for a single day, which is only partially true. There was a day when John called me to the hallway and fired me on the spot.

I mentioned earlier that it was virtually impossible to fire anybody in the Soviet Union. It continued to be the same in Russia on our “official jobs,” which were holding our “labor booklets.” But our official jobs would pay very little for most of us, including me. Urbansoft was probably the only place of work in the whole city, where you would be paid on time, and that money made most of my budget.

G. was in a sort of leadership position in the company. He was the one to call me to say that I am hired. As it turned out, he lived in a house next to mine, which is why he was a person who installed a modem at my place. He would also bring my code to the office on a diskette when I was not able to come to the office.

Then one day, he was fired. And if it sounds like an ordinary event for you, you never lived in the Soviet Union :). For us, it was a shock. Also, back in the Soviet times, it was considered very cool to confront your boss – you could not be fired anyway, so you could release your anger as much as you wanted. We thought of ourselves begin very progressive when we were not afraid of retaliation and yelled at our bosses.


G. was fired. That was a new and frightening experience for all of us. We were all scared. We didn’t ask John why, and we were afraid. I called G. He didn’t tell me why, but a couple of days later, he asked me whether I will give him the key to the office. And I did. Why did I give him the key? Because it was a sort of “employees against employers” solidarity. Because I did not know why he was fired (and for him it was a full-time job) and I felt sorry for him. I do not recall whether he just said he needed to pick up something from the office, or he didn’t explain to me why he needed the key. The fact I want to highlight now is that in any case, I would let him. That was my state of mind back then, that’s how the Universe worked from my perspective back then.
It turned out that he wanted to use an office laminating machine for something personal. And he broke it.

I do not remember the whole sequence of events after that, but I remember that John asked me whether I gave G. a key, and I didn’t deny it.


And then came that day. We were not used to one-on-one conversations. We used to know each other’s salaries and circumstances. We used to all hire/fire announcements being public. Thereby I didn’t even expect it, not in my wildest dreams. I could not comprehend it – John was saying something to the effect that “I was doing a great job,” but his investors inquired about the broken machine… and why we never asked him about G., and other things. And I was thinking that I was waiting for my next payday to go for a haircut, and now I won’t be able to… and how I am going to live now…

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

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