A Steno School Story … And You’re Fired!

I think it’s safe to say I’ve done every job on the teaching side of court reporting.  I started off as a reader in steno school.  I did academic grading for a long time.  I taught every speed class at one time or another.  I was the program coordinator for several years.  And in all those positions, over all those years, the worst part of the job?  Firing people.

steno school

I should have used a Post-it!

Firing someone is a horrible thing to have to do – even if you don’t like someone.  There’s no easy way to do it.  I suppose there are employers out there who get off on that moment of power, but I was never one of them.  Which leads to my “firing-gone-horribly-wrong” story.

I’ll start by explaining that being a steno school reader is a unique skill.  You have to have a grasp of the English language, read at very specific speeds, enunciate and project your voice.  All this while students are waiting on your every word, ready to throw steno machines at you if you stutter, stammer, make eye contact or move in any way.  “I was getting that till you messed up!!!  Jerk!!!”

A Steno School Story

Enough delay – here’s the story!  We had the need for another reader at the campus school… right away!  So we brought in a bunch of people to try, but all were horrible.  One woman was a little less horrible than the rest, so we hired her, hoping we could mold her a bit.  After a month of molding, there was no change.  The owner of the steno school told me I would have to fire her.

I could have just told her, “This isn’t the job for you,” but she was so nice, I didn’t want her to feel like she had failed.  So I told her due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to let an employee go, and since she was the last hired…  She nodded with total understanding.  Her ego was unscathed – I did the job!  But…

On the way out of the building she stopped in the steno school owner’s office to say goodbye.

(the conversation as told to me later)

Reader – I just wanted to say goodbye before I left.
Owner – I’m really sorry this didn’t work out.  Reading is a tough skill.
Reader – (perplexed) Yes… it is… but I’m not sure what you mean.
Owner – I mean you shouldn’t feel bad.  We’ll probably have to interview 50 people before we find someone new.

I could hear her heels clacking against the tile floor as she came running down the hall towards my office.  She threw open the door and let me have it.

Reader – “What is wrong with you people?!  Do you get some kind of sick thrill out of *&@#ing with people?!  What kind of #*@$ed up court reporting school is this?!  Is this what you do all day – hire and fire people just to *#@% with their heads?!”

Well… no.  I try to be nice 🙂  Oops.

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