Have you ever been fired from a job because a co-worker didn't like you? Or perhaps the co-worker had something to gain by it? If this hasn't happened to you, maybe you know someone who it has happened to. I was 54 years old when this episode happened to me. I have had my share of ups and downs with jobs. Like everybody. But never has anything like this ever happened to me. Nor did I see it coming.
What was the real reason this happened to me? Money and jealousy. Now keep in mind that everything in this story is true. And to be honest, my imagination is not good enough to make any of this up.
MY JOB AT A CONDO
For almost five years I worked at a downtown Sarasota Florida condominium. An 18 story building with 72 units. I started this job in early 2004 as a custodian-maintenance person. Part time. Now for what it's worth, people living in condominiums are a colorful bunch to say the least. But I enjoyed all of them. Lots of personalities with interesting quirks makes for very eventful days.
The most important thing about working closely with so many people is to be friendly, have a very good personality, yet just be yourself. If the residents don't like you, not only will they make you miserable, but you probably won't be around very long. But I obviously passed the test very quickly by being honest and sincere.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONDO
Jack is a very strange fellow. A control freak. He wants to know and have a say in everything. I would say 95% of the residents can't stand this guy. He wants everybody to know he is in charge of the condo. His daily habit is standing at the front desk and watching everybody and everything going on. And it doesn't matter if he likes you or knows you, his demeanor changes quickly if you are doing the least little thing he deems wrong or do not follow the rules. And gossip? Jack loves gossip. The more titillating, the better for him. He used to give me the Enquirer, Star, etc. Every week. Quite a character to put it mildly. Enquiring minds need to know for sure.
This is the guy this whole story is about. The building manager. Ben Snodgrass. Huh? That's right. S-n-o-d-g-r-a-s-s. Now this is the man that I call a hillbilly. And here's why:
Mr. Ben Snodgrass was born in Arkansas. He use to refer to himself as 'Bad Benny'. His dad and brother used to pick cotton. When his dad died, all he left Ben was a belt buckle. Now he was always getting in trouble with the police. He spent about 9 months on a Georgia chain gang. On his second arrest, when he went before a judge, he was given an ultimatum: jail or the army. So he joined the army. Soon he went to Vietnam.
Also Ben was a former alcoholic. After he successfully completed AA, he became a counselor for an AA chapter. That is where he would meet vulnerable and emotionally fragile woman, and would engage in sex with them. AA is also where he met his wife. And she also, managed to get sober. People didn't think that two former alcoholics could get married and stay sober. But apparently they did.
Ben had very few teeth. He never opened his mouth much when he talked. He also never smiled or laughed. But finally in 2007 I believe, he had dental work done. So with new teeth he would laugh and smile a little. Just a little. Sometimes he would forget his teeth at home, and a family member would drive 50 miles one way to bring them to him. That was funny.
Now Ben had an anger problem, among his many traits. He had a big blow up (perhaps many) with a female co-worker at a Longboat Key condo, so the property management company decided to move. They decided to have him stop by the condo I worked at for a meet and greet with some board members. He was being considered to work the front desk and manage the daily operations. Many found out quickly Ben was ill equipped for that position. As he was leaving the initial meeting, he introduced himself to me, and then in the next breath said, "I have an anger problem. But I am going to classes to deal with it better". Hmmm? That was weird. What are you telling me this shit for? My first thought? Intimidation? I didn't have to be a psychiatrist to know what he was doing.
And sure enough, my assumption was correct. Ben was the farthest thing from a people person you could find. He intimidated most everyone. Even residents and board members. He didn't care who you were. He basically had zero class. And he was constantly bragging, trying to impress people with his expertise and knowledge on things. And this was the man representing an upscale condo in the heart of downtown Sarasota as the building manager? And at the concierge front desk no less.
One time Ben had a few things going on at the same time, and could not locate something, and asked me if I knew where it was. I told him I didn't know. And he said to me, "don't give me any of your s*** Mike".
THE RIDICULE AND FINANCIAL WOES OF MR. SNODGRASS
I believe around the end of 2007, I informed Mr. Snodgrass I was going to take classes to be a licensed Florida property manager. I found out later from a cleaning lady, who sat by the front desk every day before work, that Mr. Snodgrass would talk to other board members about me taking classes, and they would laugh and say there was no way I was going become a property manager. These people got a big kick out of me wanting to improve myself.
Well I took the classes. And I took the state exam. And passed. On the first time. I found out later that most people do not pass the test the first time. There is a lot to study to becoming a licensed property manager, but to be honest, half the questions I knew, the other half I guessed on. So I was just lucky.
Then I started telling board members that I had passed the test, and how hard it was. You should have seen their faces. The same people who laughed behind my back, had a "I can't believe it" look on their mug now. I loved it. And I never told Mr. Snodgrass about my recent achievement. He found out from other people. But he did congratulate me.
Around 2007 Mr. Snodgrass started having financial problems. He paid a lot of money to a lawyer in Arkansas to help his wife get legal custody of her grandson. And her son moved down also. His wife had a problem holding down a job. She was dismissed from two in about 2 years. I found out later she had a bad habit of telling her employers how to run their companies. So then, according to her son, she totally refused to work. That put a huge strain on the families finances. Mr. Snodgrass fell behind in the house payment. About three months at one point. And he called Ford Motors to tell them he couldn't afford to pay on a vehicle and to come get it. All this he told me many times.
THE MIND GAMES
Sometime around May 2008 was when the threats and mind games started. Now keep in mind I have been working at the condo two years before Mr. Snodgrass ever came. I proved to all the residents what kind of person and employee I was. My attendance was impeccable. I always did what I was instructed. I never complained or gripped. I always stayed late if they needed me. I always had the same demeanor. Friendly and personable. I was trusted. And very well liked.
This was also around the time Mr. Snodgrass would occasionally tell me that they were going to get rid of me. And I would asked him for what? "I Am doing everything I am supposed to be doing" I would say to him. And his response? "That is not enough".
Then Mr. Snodgrass would tell me that I could not talk to the residents anymore. When he would see me, he would interrupt the conversation no matter how far away he was. The only think I was allowed to say, according to him, was "good morning and have a nice day". This went on for months.
Finally, in August 2008, I was dismissed by the property management company. They did not give me specifics. But I took it like a man. I showed no emotion whatsoever. I knew who was behind it. Mr. Snodgrass. He was the only co-worker I had. Of course he played shocked and some what outraged, promising me he was going to find out why. Also some board members had to approve this. But the worst part of it was no one came to me to ask any questions. That was not right.
Now I knew why Mr. Snodgrass obviously was behind my dismissal. The threats he gave me that I was going to be fired. Telling me that I could not talk to residents any more. If you put two and two together you get four. And I had a four.
Also, working at a condo is very lucrative at Christmas time for a bonus. One year I received $1500. I had 4-6 people every year that would each always give me $50. I had seniority. With Mr. Snodgrass's finances, getting me out of the way meant possibly more money for him. He was always desperate for it.
There was a very nice resident who organized a petition for me to be re-hired. It had over 65 signatures on it. The building had 72 units, with some still out of state. Unfortunately, after what had happened to me, I could not nor would I want to work at this condo ever again.
So that is my story. A dedicated and loyal employee being dismissed from a job he really liked. A guy who had obligations and bills to pay. Like most everyone. I really miss a lot of very nice people I became friends with over time. But I sure don't miss Mr. Snodgrass and the board members who threw me under the bus. That was wrong.
And What Happened To Mr Snodgrass?
As you can see on November 30, 2010, Mr. Snodgrass bought the farm. He is now unavailable. His service might have military honors but I doubt it. Did he join the army because he loved and wanted to serve his country? No. He joined because a judge finally gave him an ultimatum. Jail again or the army. Snodgrass chose the army. That is what he told me. But now he is gone. And all he leaves behind is his reputation. And his reputation is not a good one. I know that very well. And he chose to be who he was. A shame and pathetic that some people have to be like Mr. Snodgrass. Hurting others for selfish reasons is very ugly.
In conclusion, I hope you found my story somewhat interesting. Nothing has been embellished. Everything is true. The people. The personalities. The events. Everything. Sometimes when you least expect it co-workers can betray you. Usually because of money or jealosy. Some people might think publishing this story hard and cold. The facts are hard and cold. Not me. Keep in mind this was written in 2009. I did quickly rebound after this episode and continue to work hard and be successful. Anyway I just hope nothing like this ever happens to you. Maybe you can tell your friends about this blog if you found it interesting. All the best.