Back in the bad old days when Margaret Thatcher was still the chief banana in our government (circa 1990) I had a grumpy Hungarian employer. He was tall, 50ish and had a patrician air about him. He used to stroll around the offices like a lord inspecting his estates and spying on his serfs - he always made me cringe a bit. He left a depressing aura in his wake which spoke of money worries, downturn in business and staff problems.
And I was one of those staff problems. In all the time I worked for him (and I wonder why I stayed for so long) I never settled in, never found my place, always felt awkward and certainly didn't get anywhere near achieving my potential. Potential, what's that?
I'd made an enemy of one of the directors who in the hierarchy of the company was one layer higher than me and one step down from the boss. He spent six months trying to dislodge me from the company and even in my depressed state I could clearly observe his tactics but was powerless to out-manoeuvre him.
During this period the grumpy Hungarian would periodically call me into his office for yet another telling off. He spelled out to me the official warning process, verbal and written which was the preparation for dismissal and I would nod my head. Two weeks later I would be back in his office - him looking for an improvement in my work, me having none to offer. Each time my grumpy employer would intone: 'you are no good, you are always ill' and sigh.
Eventually he gave me the stark choice of being fired or resigning. I chose to resign because I thought that way I would retain some self respect but it was a sacking in all but name. At our final meeting in his office on my last morning he repeated yet again: 'you are no good, you are always ill' and then to my astonishment asked me to keep in touch with him. I remained silent not trusting myself to speak while I thought 'you must be fucking joking' so at least that showed I had a spark of life left in me.