I Was Fired From My First Job for Being Racist
Yes, you’re reading that right. This isn’t clickbait.
Let me explain.
When I was 17, I landed my first real job working at Odeon Cinema. It was extremely lax — sick days and turning up late were common occurrences. What’s more, aside from the evening rushes, there was a lot of dead time during the day. I could read behind reception, mess around with colleagues, and, best of all, watch movies for free.
Honestly, it felt more like a social club. We didn’t really give a f*ck about propriety. I mean, we were banking around £5 an hour, so “caring” wasn’t in the job description.
Anyway, one of my colleagues was a Polish girl. On a particularly quiet day, a few of us were joking around. She was getting us to say Polish words and we were telling her to say English ones.
“Try antidisestablishmentarianism," I said.
If you don’t already know, “antidisestablishmentarianism” is one of the longest words in the English language. I thought it would be funny to see her attempt to pronounce it.
Obviously, she struggled.
We all laughed.
Or at least, I thought we all laughed. Maybe she didn’t. At the time, I assumed it was all light and breezy — just a bit of fun. Later I would find out her smile was a mask for something else.
Pain. Humiliation. Isolation.
An unexpected arrival
A few hours after the Polish girl had finished her shift, a man suddenly bounded into the cinema. He had black hair, a beard, and a rough and ready look to him. He was also seething with rage.
“Are you Ben?” He asked me, eyes wide and murderous.
“Yes?” I replied, shocked.
He then went on to explain, barely controlling his temper, that the Polish girl was his girlfriend, and she’d been crying hysterically.
Because of me.
Because she thought I was mocking her for being foreign.
As you can imagine, I was confused. I attempted to be diplomatic, saying I never…