Over the Christmas holidays, I learned that I have a real live angel watching over me.
Remarkably, the story of my so-called legal action against my ex-employer is truly heartwarming. Really. It’s heartwarming.
Years ago, I had my first real experience of anxiety and work getting to know each other. I did not want them to become pals, but they sure as fuck did. It was rough.
And really. Who the fuck would willingly go from happily doing his or her job to breaking down very publicly in a single bound, and purposefully shred everything they’d built for him/herself for no reason? We can’t all be Charlie Sheen.
The thing is, my employer at the time was so cool about it (I was certainly not working for AssWipes Limited). They got it, they understood, and they respected that I am a human, and like all other humans, I was broken sometimes. They knew that 1. it’s okay to be broken sometimes, and we just need some time to mend, and 2. that it wasn’t exactly legal to deny me of that anyway. Whatever their reason for treating me with kindness and understanding, I could give a shit. I was able to heal, regroup, and reenter the workforce as good as new.
It can be simple, you know.
What I also learned was that I could get through really hard, humiliating stuff. It also didn’t mean I was worth less than anyone else, or that I was less deserving of respect. I’ve been there, and seen it, and experienced it: employers can treat their employees in a humane manner.
I was resolved not only to stand up for what I felt was right, but also to create a happy ending of sorts. Resolve things in a way that did not end with them having laughed their evil laugh and won, while I was left to rue the day I went quietly into the night.
I needed to end things on my terms, or die trying.
After I resolved to pursue some sort of action against my former employer, I had no idea where to start. I actually filled in an online questionnaire to a local law firm (my friend’s dad is a partner there, so I figured it was a good place to start) saying I potentially wanted to commence legal action against my employer. They did not email me back immediately, so I began crafting my own bleeding heart of a letter to my employer myself. I figured I could just handle this myself, not spend money I did not have, and that my beautiful, heart wrenching words would cause Idiot, Idiot & Co. to smile kindly upon me from their tall golden thrones, pay me a sum that would cover 10 years worth of therapy, and sign off on a meaningful hand-written apology letter. In blood.
I texted Boyfriend and my mom the hastily written Evernote letter I drafted. It truly touched their hearts. But my mom in particular thought that I should hold off on emailing anything just yet. She gave me that sage advice, “sleep on it.”
But during our conversation (is it a conversation if one of the participants is blubbering like a toddler?), I remembered something.
I know a lawyer.
Now, lawyers don’t cost $free. Even the ones who are friends of yours, or more like acquaintances. Most lawyers around here charge around $500 per hour. It is very difficult to afford a lawyer when your income is $0, and you’re paying hundreds of dollars per week on various therapies to keep your mind from succumbing to the quicksand it has stumbled into.
But I decided that perhaps he could at least give me some direction. Maybe tell me whether I had a case to bother with. Suggest a lawyer in town who was worth spending all of my pennies on.
Just kidding. Canada doesn’t even have pennies anymore. I’d be using my credit card, obvs.
I was fucking terrified of writing him an email and having to reveal my story. Having to include another human in this already mortifying tale was something that I did not want to do. But I didn’t really feel like I had any other options. And connecting with this man seemed to hold a small glimmer of light.
So before I could talk myself out of it, I emailed him. Asked to meet when he had time.
He wrote back.