Talia Ben-Ora, a Yelp employee in San Francisco was fired on February 25, two hours after posting an open letter ( Ben-Ora Open Letter ) to Yelp’s CEO in which she complained about her low rate of pay. There are many angles from which to examine the letter and Yelp’s response. I think it was clearly her sarcastic comments about the CEO’s wealth which got her fired. Perhaps if she had held her fire on those points, it would have met with a more moderate response since most organizations do not want to be viewed as being harsh or unwilling to listen to employee complaints. Talia has been vilified in numerous articles and posts for for an apparent sense of entitlement and naivete. Although I do see a lot of naivete in her comments, I would not judge her in such as severe manner as I have seen and read.
The aspect of the ordeal which I focus on is the collision of a young person’s dreams with the harsh realities of paying rent, buying food etc. Talia’s dream is to become a writer. She naively thought that after starting in an entry level customer service job at Yelp that she could expect to move up to a Writing position in less than a year. When she saw that was unlikely to happen, her frustration boiled over. Should she be more willing to pay her dues? Yes. Might she have other options for managing to live on her low paying wage? Yes. But this is not the end of the story for Talia. We don’t know where this blow-up will lead her. Was it a huge mistake? I can’t even say that it was. Maybe she needed to “crash”, “blow it up”, whatever metaphor you want to use for what happened. When innocence is lost, and there are many ways we lose innocence in our lives (parents, love, and in this case “calling”), it is always something of a trauma, whether it be large or small. When trauma hits, it sometimes prompts a person to open up – other times, to shut down. Will Talia regroup and find a way to passionately pursue a dream to be a writer? Will she more moderately look for ways to write in her spare time and take a generic job to “pay the bills”? We don’t know. I can only wish her well and hope that she keeps kindled some sense of “Calling”.