In the middle of October, Jess and I travelled down to Newcastle. I had just won an eBay auction for ‘Ere We Go and Freebooterz, two of the few remaining out-of-print Games Workshop Ork sourcebooks I did not own. This was tremendously exciting for me; previously these books had always escaped me as I was either outbid or I could not make it to the place required to collect them. But this year, fortune smiled and they popped up in sunny coastal Newcastle, only available by pickup, and I happened to be in the right state at the right time. The seller and I even agreed to meet, fittingly enough, at the local Games Workshop store in Newcastle. It was perfect.
Little did I know, when we undertook this labour of love, that this would be the very thing that would cause me to lose my own job with Games Workshop.
You see, while we were waiting for the seller, I took the opportunity to converse with and get to know the manager and staff at the Newcastle Games Workshop store. We chatted about this and that, about how their store was doing, what it was like to work at my store up at Castle Towers. We got along. When they asked me what brought me down this way, I gleefully exclaimed – over the moon as I was – about how I was finally going to pick up these Ork books that had eluded me all these years, and that I had arranged to use their store as a meeting point with my eBay seller.
It turns out this was a huge mistake. Because you see, the first thing that the Newcastle manager did upon seeing my manager at last week’s manager’s conference, was to step over and inform him that one of his staff – he even remembered my name for the occasion – had used his store as a meeting point to purchase goods over eBay.
Apparently the fact that the item in question was an out of print supplement from eighteen years ago and that eBay is the only place it can be found was irrelevant: I, a Games Workshop staff member, had purchased Games Workshop goods from eBay and was publicly announcing it at a Games Workshop store.
The Newcastle manager also went on to add that I had “acted like a smartass” by discussing the Ten Commandments of Customer Service with him and his staff. Specifically, when I was first approached by him, I congratulated him on completing the First Commandment (“Acknowledge and approach everyone who enters the Hobby Centre”) and introduced myself as a fellow employee. Now I don’t know if Newcastle has some fucked-up personal definition of “smartass” but where I come from, that’s called breaking the fucking ice. Finding common ground. Starting a conversation.
At the time he laughed and we got along fine, as did the other staff member whom I had roughly the same conversation with. I was not to know that the hypnotic conditioning in his brain had kicked into overdrive, and that my name, rank and serial number were being filed away to be reported later.
After spending maybe ten or fifteen minutes in store, I realised the seller was late and decided to go stand outside to look for him. I made my excuses and left; not knowing that when this whole story would be reported to my manager, the ending would be completely fucking rewritten to the Newcastle manager asking me to leave the store.
I had no idea of any of this at the time; in fact I had no idea up until today, over two weeks later when Jess and I went into my store to do some painting. My manager had asked me to come in so he could speak to me personally before he drew up the roster for the week. I jokingly asked when I arrived if I was being fired. He looked at me sadly and said “Yes”.
After having the whole ridiculous farce of a situation (complete with bonus alternate ending courtesy of the Newcastle manager) explained to me, he went on further to add that in any case he didn’t think I was a very good “fit” with Games Workshop – primarily, because I was not loud and energetic enough. You see it’s very important, at Games Workshop, that you make the hobby fun and exciting – which according to the company policy, means shouting all the time, something I struggle with. And Games Workshop take
their shouting their “fit” very seriously; through some contacts, I’ve actually had the chance to read the Little Red Book, which is the top-secret management handbook written by the CEO of Games Workshop himself, Tom Kirby.
At the time of my hiring, I mentioned to my manager that I possessed this illicit knowledge. Recalling this fact, he used it to illustrate why I was being fired.
You see that top left corner? That, he explained, was where I was. Talented, yes, but not a good fit. “You’ve read the book, Tim,” he said, “You know what Games Workshop policy is about this.” Oh yes, I do.
When it comes right down to it, I still don’t know why I was fired. I can see why I might have been told it wasn’t working out a few months from now and perhaps asked gently to leave, or just quietly given less and less shifts until I quit of my own accord. But fired?
If enjoying the Games Workshop universe enough to collect all their sourcebooks is a crime, if trying to find common ground with other Games Workshop staff through entirely reasonable conversation is a crime, if being loyal veteran of fourteen goddamn years is a crime, then lock me the fuck up, you guys. Because I will re-offend.
UPDATE: Holy shit that’s a lot of comments. If you’re reading this, could you please leave me a comment showing me where this is being linked from? I’m dying to know. Thanks!