There was a gap of about a year between when I was arrested and when I went to court. It’s amazing how long lawyers can drag out the plea bargaining phase of a trial even if – as was the case with me – the evidence of the defendant’s guilt is overwhelming. During that time I got another job working at a sub shop. I knew that this would be the last time I’d be able to fill out an application without having to check the convicted felon box, so I counted myself lucky. The first couple months of this job went relatively well. I was good at it. I could make sandwiches pretty quickly and effectively, but that’s when the harbinger of doom took over our store. She was a small, plump, paranoid woman who was completely devoid of a sense of humor. I don’t care what you do in business. You can be the greatest salesman in the history of sales, but if you don’t have a sense of humor you’re dead to me.
The first problem with this woman was that she was a Republican. I don’t deal well with crazy people and she threw her sanity out the window the minute she joined the Republican party. This was pre-Obama and pre-Tea Party, so she was a Bush Republican if that hasn’t become a complete oxymoron. It became pretty evident after the owner of our location left the country that this lady didn’t like me. All of a sudden I was being put in charge of things despite the fact I had only been there a few months. People who were clearly more qualified than I was to run the place were curiously looked over in favor of me on busy days and I was told to supervise people that hated each other. None of this was brought to my attention until after the fact of course because it wouldn’t have been any fun for them if I had known of my coworkers antagonism beforehand. I had one guy that I worked with who did this bizarre thing with cookie dough to embarrass this guy he didn’t like. I was immediately reprimanded for not knowing that the two hated each other.
It wasn’t exactly something new for me to be thrust into a position of responsibility before I was ready. This had happened at each of my previous jobs. What was new was for me to be put in charge of the running of the restaurant despite having no managerial experience whatsoever. I was in charge of balancing the books at the beginning of the day something I was clearly not qualified to do. The first day I was asked to do this I lost all the money from the morning. Now when I say I lost it I’m not entirely sure that’s what happened. All I know is that I forgot to take it to the bank before I left. I asked the guy who came in after me to do it and I trusted him to do as I asked. The next day when I asked him if he had deposited the money he responded with the delightful question:
“What money?” As if he had no idea what I could possibly be referring to. Of course, that was the beginning of the end for me. I called my manager immediately after I found out that the money was missing and that it had not been deposited. We went through the trash, searched the place up and down for it before finally calling the police. I felt terrible. This had all happened on my watch. I felt like I let everyone down. I wanted to know who had stolen the money as soon as possible, but of course the culprit was never caught. Eventually, the officer responsible for looking into the case was removed and another investigator was brought in. This lady was absolutely certain that I had done this. She called me down to the station where I naively showed up without my attorney and tried as hard as I could to try and help her solve the case.
I’m not sure that there ever were any other suspects. What was surprising to me was that the police hadn’t even done a background check on me so they were completely unaware of the charges pending against me. Once I let it slip that I was being prosecuted everyone assumed that I must have been the culprit despite the fact there was absolutely no evidence linking me to the crime. Just an hour after speaking with the lead officer in the case I was charged with the theft. There were a number of people who could have stolen the money, but I’m fairly certain it was an inside job. If you ask me who did it the answer is pretty clear and it gets even clearer when you read the police report. There was one person who absolutely hated my guts and it’s stated time and time again in the police report: my manager who had set this whole thing up.
She invented all sorts of problems and excuses to distance herself from me prior to the money going missing. She claimed that my deodorant was causing her to get asthma attacks. She continued to schedule me as a supervisor despite her obvious lack of faith in me. In fact, the only other person who could have possibly had access to the money on the night in question was her since the owner was out of the country, so it’s pretty obvious who took the money. She was looking for an excuse to get rid of me and all she had to do was hide the money for a little while. We wound up going to trial on this charge and my lawyer had the genius idea of having me not appear in court when we went to trial so that the prosecution couldn’t use my testimony to establish the fact that a crime had been committed. Much to our surprise my manager also failed to show up for court. Apparently she was so sure that she had won that she didn’t even bother to see it through. The charges were dismissed because there was no evidence that a crime had even been committed and life went on.
I was relieved that I wasn’t wrongly convicted of something I clearly hadn’t done, but the fact that she got away with it still burned. It still irritates me to this day despite the fact neither of us works there anymore. She used the fact that the owner trusted her more than me to her advantage simply to get me fired for something that she planned ahead of time. Once the charges had been dismissed I returned to work. The fact that the charges had been dismissed was – at least in my eyes – a vindication of my innocence. When I arrived at work the doors were locked and after I knocked several times a clearly surprised co-worker told me to call our manager. When I called her she sounded surprised to here from me.
“I thought it went without saying that you’re fired” she said. I was fired despite the fact I had been absolved of any wrongdoing in a court of law. That didn’t seem fair to me, but I had exhausted my willingness to fight at that point. I simply hung up the phone, put my stuff on the counter, said goodbye to my co-workers – who refused to even look at me – and went home to get some rest. That final walk of shame out of the restaurant really hurt because I could tell that they felt something. The two workers there were two people that I respected and I don’t know why they couldn’t look at me, all I knew was that they didn’t. It hurt immensely to be simply thrown out like that, but that was nothing compared to what was coming my way in my next court case.