Just Got Fired...over a matter of $.54 ?!?!?! Seeking advice...

So I'm more than a little bit peeved at the moment, but I'll try not to rant and rave too much on here. I want to explain my situation a little bit, then seek out some advice from my fellow gentlemen.

okay, so for the past two years I've been working (till yesterday) at a large retail bookstore (I won't give out the name, obviously, but take your pick...they're all the same) that has a coffee shop/cafe in it. My main job was to oversee the multimedia department (music, movies, audiobooks, etc.) but I also worked the occasional shift in the cafe, which was a lot more fun than the regular floor...and not just because that's where all the cute girls worked, too!

Anyway, during a cafe shift we regularly need to calibrate the espresso machine. This involved pouring anyhwere between 4 to 7 shots and making sure the espresso measures out ok and doesn't look funky. This is all fine and dandy. We mark how much we pour into the waste log and it goes down the drain. Simple. Last Friday, I took one of these shots and put it in a sample cup and drank it.

I'm not going to make any excuses, this is against the rules. I didn't pay for it, so it's technically theft, even though it's trash. This sort of thing happens all the time, you take a little nibble of the coffeecake that's going to be thrown or keep a sample cup of the "expired" coffee ( on a side note, we throw away trashbags full of good food and gallons of coffee every single night! This can't even be donated to a food shelter or anything! It's a little ridiculous...). But rules are rules and I broke one.

The funny thing is, I only got "caught" because someone at our regional loss prevention office saw it on a camera. My manager knows this sort of thing happens often enough, but she had to fire me cuz the LP guy said so. Or something like that.

Now, for a customer, a shot of espresso costs $.50. with tax it comes to $.54. If i had paid for it with my "discount" it would come to $.49. But, since this was trash anyway, it technically cost the company whatever the equivalent of a few grams of coffee beans and an ounce of water.

All that being said, is this really a fire-able offense? I know rules are rules and I blatantly broke one. When my manager confronted me about it, I decided to be honest, assuming at the very worst I could be suspended. Nope. Fired. Gone. No warning, suspension, probation, possibility for restitution, or even a dock in pay? I am now a liar and a thief and not allowed back into the store! I'm a security threat! Just the mere annoyance of having to go up to the office and talk with the manager is enough incentive for me never to do it again!

does this seem fair to anyone? I know I broke a rule, but is it really so black and white? It's not like I took a computer monitor or even a dvd box set or something. I "took" trash! A number on the waste log! AN OUNCE OF WATER!!! something that wasn't going to be paid for whether i drank it or not!

but a rule is a rule, so now I'm a thief and a liar, even though I told the truth (maybe if I came up with lie to cover myself, i'd still have a job...oh well).

Honestly, though, I wasn't planning on staying at that job forever, but I still have bills to pay so I'll have to find some other crummy retail job for the time being. ...so annoying...
but the main thing that sucks is now I've lost all my work friends. Granted, it's not like I hung out with them all the time, but they were fun to work with and made that part of life enjoyable. So, I'm hoping that there aren't rumors about me "ripping off" the company and stealing $500 worth of merch or something. I hope my manager doesn't paint me in a bad light (she's kind of crazy and has done that to people she's fired in the past). I guess that I'm hoping I can still be friends with most of these people.

So, Manly Men, do you think it would be a good idea to call or write my work friends and try to explain my side to them? Or would that make it look like I was trying to hide something? Would it be toolbag-ish of me to try to find out what rumors are circling about me? Perhaps I could even just post this note on Facebook and tag them or something and they can decide for themselves?

The bottom line is this: I stole a shot of espresso worth $.54 to the company. I got fired. I can find a new retail job easily enough. I'm just worried about losing friends, even the ones I didn't know that well, yet.

Any advice or words of encouragement are welcome! Thanks for reading, Manly Men!

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Comment by Carl M on March 22, 2010 at 1:30am
I have worked at places like that before. They demand loyalty but don't earn it or give it and have no concept of how to treat employees like people. Yes you broke a rule but it was actually at no loss to the company (it was trash) and it was a one time trivial amount, unless there was a some underlying thing going on. Some battles are worth it but this one it is probably better to move on and find better in your life.
Comment by Stephen Charles Berry on March 19, 2010 at 6:39pm
Hey guys thanks so much for the feedback!

I think it's one of those things that will start to seem more silly in a few days. I'm mainly frustrated at having to find a new job now...all those applications and junk. But i've gotten lots of encouragement from my former co-workers in the past couple days. I think the ones that are really true friends will remain friends no matter what. And even the assistant managers have told me I'm a good worker and I can use them as references and such...so hooray! anyhoo, time to move on and that is that. As long as it doesn't hurt me in the finding of a new job, all will be well.
Comment by Liam Strain on March 19, 2010 at 1:07am
Is it a fireable offense? Probably not. But it is likely an "at will" employment environment, which means they don't need a reason anyway. I think Terry got it right, this is just the LP guy trying to prove he adds value.

Contact those friends you want to see again, but don't be the first to bring it up. And don't make a big impassioned speech to clear things up. If they ask, just tell them plainly what happened, that you think it's more than a bit silly, but whatever, you are moving on.
Comment by Will on March 18, 2010 at 8:04pm
I think you should contact any of the friends you want to hang with. Not to clear your name, but just if you enjoy their company. (I'm not sure one way or the other about clearing your name. It's the rumor mill. AFAIK by the time it gets around the rumor will be that you were fired for drinking out of the trash and found $54.)

I've heard -- and believe -- that this is sort of a social trend: less common sense or judgment, more "you broke a rule, you're out." Too bad.
Comment by CM Sackett on March 18, 2010 at 6:50pm
And as mentioned at the very beginning... you do with those thoughts as you decide.

Sackett
Comment by CM Sackett on March 18, 2010 at 6:48pm
A thought... you do with it as you decide.

Your post states clearly your knowledge of the 'offense' ~ and your ownership of it (all following comments are based on THAT. Lying, or just as bad, minimizing the veracity of the facts ~ is a whole other animal).

...so now, let it go.

If it is brought up by someone else, acknowledge it quietly, quickly and clearly ("Yep, I did it. Nossir, it wasn't one of my brighter moments"). Then... LET IT GO, and get on with being the man you know you are, and are determined to be.

NOTE: Anyone wanting to ride a man over .54 cents (and honest acknowledgment of wrongdoing) isn't worth working up a sweat over... or working with/for.


CM Sackett

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