How to Get Fired: Installation

March 13, 2008


Technical-writing courses introduce you to some of the most important aspects of writing in the world of science, technology, and business—in other words, the kind of writing that scientists, nurses, doctors, computer specialists, government officials, engineers, and other such people do as a part of their regular work.

To learn how to write effectively for the world of work, you’ll study common types of reports, special format items such as lists and headings, simple techniques for putting graphics into reports, and some techniques for producing professional-looking final copy.

Technical-writing courses build on what you’ve learned in other writing courses. But there’s lots that is new to learn! If you currently have a job in which you do some writing, you’ll discover that you can put what you learn in your technical-writing course to immediate use.

–From an online textbook about technical writing.

After one of my miserable jobs went bad, my wife and I decided to go to the Oregon beach to take our mind off our troubles. (This was about 30 years ago.) We stopped at Denny’s to get a snack and some tea. As we were sitting there rather morosely, I began to listen to the conversation in the booth behind me. It was a job interview for a technical writing job.

As a frequently incompetent person, the field of technical writing had long interested me. People who can’t do, teach. People who can’t even do that write about what they can’t do. Although I had no “formal” technical writing experience, I had written some instruction manuals. It sounded as if the person being interviewed had a similar lack of experience, but the interviewer seemed to be taking her seriously.

After the interview behind me ended, I said to my wife, “Excuse me a second” and approached the interviewer and introduced myself as a person who had done some technical writing, though not worked in a formal technical writing job. He seemed interested. We exchanged contact information. Although all of my jobs have ended badly, this is how the only main job where I have been formally fired began.

I suppose I could turn this into a technical manual on how to get fired. However, I will probably just tell the story, though it will take a few chapters to get there.


5 Responses to “How to Get Fired: Installation”

  1. Pete Says:

    Going to the Oregon Coast was a great idea. I can’t wait to get back!

  2. modestypress Says:

    If we hadn’t eventually moved back to Washington (a move made 3/4 to be with our daughter), we probably would have ended up in Cannon Beach.

  3. teaspoon Says:

    So you stole the job from the person being interviewed? Excellent work!!

  4. modestypress Says:


    It gets worse. Stay tuned.

  5. What a hilarious way to get a job interview … I heartily approve. You need a business card that says something like “Mr. Random: Interview-Usurper.”

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