A reader writes:
I worked in a domestic capacity and lived in the house where I worked.
After a couple of months of working non-stop, I took a weekend off (didn't take time off before because I didn't want to and there were problems finding cover). A few days later, I was fired and was bundled out of the house on the same day. I was told it was nothing personal, that's just how they deal with firings and that they didn't need a live-in anymore. I had nowhere to go as I wasn't from the area so the employer paid for one night in a motel. I was on my own after that, although the assistant's last words to me were that if I needed "anything at all" to call her.
Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when the next day and every week since the firing, their assistant has been in touch with me, trying to touch base and asking me to keep in touch. I am not sure how to take this apparent concern so, except for the day immediately after the firing, haven't replied.
Are they trying to get me back? I know I was good at the job because their manager said she thought I was good and said it was "them, not (me)" and that it was nothing to do with me.
Even though I haven't had a formal offer to return, I am wondering how to deal with the communication I am receiving in such a way that I leave the door open to returning (I'm not crazy - the money was good for my field), but at the same time not be a doormat. The person who had the job before me kept in touch every week, and every time she called, the lady of the house was pretty disdainful after hanging up the phone. I don't want that situation, which is why I haven't kept in touch with the family - but maybe the assistant is a different matter?
First let me say that dismissing you from where you live without any notice and then only paying for one night in a hotel is not nice behavior, especially when they're saying you did nothing wrong. In fact, let's officially categorize these people as asses. (I do realize this is not unusual with domestic live-in's, thanks to a book I just read about nannies, but that doesn't make it okay. And I don't know why I read that book, since I don't plan to have kids, but it was fascinating nonetheless.)
Anyway. Would you have any interest in keeping in touch with the assistant if you knew for sure that it wasn't going to lead you back to the job? If so, why not do it for its own social merits? But if not, I'd just be straightforward and just ask the assistant what's going on. For instance, "Hey, I really appreciate hearing from you, but to be honest, I'm confused. Are you calling just to be nice? If so, it's really a nice gesture but also not something I want you to feel obligated to do. Or should I be reading something else into this? If you think the possibility of returning at some point is open, I'd be interested in talking about it, but I'm not at all sure if that's what this is about."
When someone is confusing you, ask them to un-confuse you.
But I'm skeptical of these people anyway. They sound volatile and not especially considerate. And maybe a little tyrannical, if what triggered the firing was that you took a weekend off. If you get anything from them, you might want it to be just a reference for your next position. Good luck!