Back when I worked at EB, we had a sales associate on staff named Colin. EB was Colin’s second job, and because of his limited availability he only worked about 12 hours a week at the store, usually on Sunday and one weekday morning. Colin was not exactly a model employee — he was late almost every day, whined incessantly, and made a fair share of mistakes. He was for the most part relegated to the position of “store whipping boy”, getting stuck with many of the really unpleasant tasks and getting blamed for just about anything that ever went wrong.

After working for the store for three years, Colin got fired when he was caught returning old games for full retail price on his own behalf. It was a really stupid thing to do, and the company didn’t waste any time with the decision to get rid of him. I got in trouble too, since I was working that day, and I didn’t stop him (although I don’t know what I could have done to have prevented it, short of physically restraining him).

A few years after getting fired from EB, a Gamestop opened up in the area, and Colin applied. On his application, he stated that he left EB voluntarily for personal reasons. One interesting fact that you might like to know about Gamestop is that they apparently do very little research on their prospective employees. They never really bothered to find out the truth of what happened, and hired him.

Given this second chance, Colin made the most of it, and actually performed well at his job. He showed up on time, did what he was told, and…well, he still whined, but that’s just how he is. He did so well that before long he was promoted to assistant manager. His new coworkers picked on him just as much as we used to, but anyone who had worked with him at both jobs could tell the difference right away. He had matured a bit, was more responsible, and had great product knowledge. Colin was friendly and helpful to customers, assisted his coworkers when they needed it, and while he didn’t exactly command respect and authority, he was, for the most part, a decent assistant manager.

I suppose I should have held a grudge against Colin. After all, that little incident that got him fired from EB also got me into a heap of trouble, and lead to me eventually being forced to quit. Now he was starting to do well again in a field that I had been shut out of since leaving the store. But despite all that, I bore no real ill will toward him, and hoped he did well at his new job.

Of course, companies are often less forgiving than people and no matter how much someone can reform and mature, it’s always difficult to escape one’s past. Gamestop bought out EB Games last year, and the merger has been slowly, but steadily, taking place. One thing that has happened within the last month or so was that the companies have begun sharing their personnel records. Word finally got out about what happened back at EB. Despite an excellent work history with Gamestop, and even though the EB store manager who fired him actually defended him when upper management called him about the incident, Colin was fired in early December.

Merry Christmas, Colin.

Admittedly, he had lied on his application (and most likely in his interview), so the termination was not unjustifiable so much as it was illogical. In firing him, the store completely overlooked the fact that he had been a quality employee for them for years, and instead focused on an incident that had happened at another company over 6 years ago. Apparently they felt they could no longer trust him, in spite of the fact that he hadn’t had any similar incidents since he started there. They let go of an experienced, knowledgeable, full-time employee in the middle of the busy Christmas season, and had little to replace him with other than some poorly trained seasonal help and their current staff. Apparently adhering to a company policy was more important than having the best people on staff that they possibly could. The next time you shop at Gamestop and receive horrible service, you now have some idea why. The person serving you might be rude and unknowledgeable, but at least he didn’t get fired from a different job back in 1999! That’s what’s really important.

Regardless of whether or not he deserved one, Gamestop had given Colin a second chance and he had made good on it. To go have gone back on it seems pretty rotten.