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Corporate Etiquette 117 . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Wednesday, June 17, 2009

{The workplace is a jungle filled with jackals, wineheads and bosses with mouths like a crocodile. There are also decent people, but I'm starting to question the percentages. This is the 17th in a series of corporate encounters which offer no easy resolutions.}

It was an ugly afternoon at the office yesterday.

Then again, a black mood is bound to descend when one-third of the company gets laid off in a series of closed-door meetings which began immediately after the lunch hour ended. Brutal.

Luckily, I wasn’t one of the statistics. For whatever reason – and the hiring/firing decision process remains an utter mystery to me – I survived even though my particular group was cut down by nearly 70 percent.

It’s not an unfamiliar story these days, and the firings came as the result of purely economic concerns versus anything performance-related. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what the reasoning is behind a lay-off if you’re on the receiving end of it.

I was friendly with everyone in my own group, and one guy was as close to a friend as a co-worker can get , so it was certainly a painful afternoon. You just feel rotten. Everyone does. Those who got fired are obviously broken up and those who remain feel guilty for escaping the noose, regardless of whether it turn out to be simply a stay of execution.

There’s also no decent way to say goodbye when someone is cleaning out their desks. Everything seems trivial and trite.

I kept it simple, and just said I had enjoyed working with each person, asked for personal contact information and told them to let me know if they needed anything. Lunches were planned “as soon as we can match up schedules” and firm handshakes were extended.

By 3:30 p.m., nearly everyone had taken their things and left the building. I talked briefly to my boss, then went straight to my car and pointed it south towards my loft and when I got there, I pulled a highball glass from the freezer and fixed a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, feeling lucky and drained and trying not to think about exactly what will await me in the morning as the dust continues to settle.



  1. JLee Says:
  2. Man, that really sucks. I can relate. My department is quiet with empty desks around and I think you can hear crickets. ha
    Glad you made the cut though...

  3. Heff Says:
  4. Well, congrats on averting the Exodus. I'll bet that was the best Bombay Sapphire you'd ever tasted, or, perhaps the worst....

  5. There is nothing to say that can make an exiting recent lay-off feel better. "Gee I hope you don't lose your house."
    Its good you found a way through it. Don't feel that guilt. No one holds it against you.

  6. Gypsy Says:
  7. Oh God that must have been really terrible but I am glad you made it through to the other side.

    About that cavity....I'd be wanting to see something the size of the Grand Canyon before I'd be parting with any money or opening my mouth. Good Luck with that.

  8. Jlee - Yep. Same around here too . . . I must keep my personal call volume lower. :)

    Heff - Appreciated - definitely. It was a great drink and the second wasn't bad either. On that note, I'm almost considered switching away from beer this summer as 100 degrees is making an iced drink taste better & less heavy.

    Getoffmylawn - That's what I thought too. Nothing good to say, and a high potential for saying something stupid and in any case like that I tend to stay silent versus saying something just to speak.

  9. Gypsy - Flew by you in Cyberspace and very glad to see you around again. It's been a shitty week now that you mention it . . . Ha. But my cavity is now filled and I am still employed, so really, I shouldn't complain. :)

  10. Boxer Says:
  11. Sweetness, Bombay Sapphire is too good to mix and after such a lousy day, you shoulda just taken that medicine STRAIGHT.

    I wonder how much people truly stay in touch once they leave? I'm sorry things have hit your Company, very glad you're still around (of course) and wish us all a better half of the year.

  12. Linda Says:
  13. From a management point of view, we had to do the lay-off/cut back hours thing here since February, and it sucks just as much from our end. Our place is small, and our staff has been with us a long time. Most of them we've just cut back hours, but even that gives me a pit in my stomach. Sucks for morale and productivity too. Though cutting my own salary and working more hours has not been much of a picnic either. Hope things get better sooner than later, and that we survive. For now, we just hang on.

  14. nobich Says:
  15. Yes things are bad- they cut 1 day a week for everyone on staff. doesn't sound bad but 4 days a month with no pay hurts. alot. The really awful thing is I like the day off but... well

  16. Wendy Says:
  17. Ugh. Sickening. My newspaper laid off 44 people last year. I imagine there was lots of vodka gone missing that night. Glad you're OK.

  18. Boxer - I appreciate the good words, and the Bombay apprecation too. I've just recently gotten into gin, so it might take awhile before I'm drinking it straight. However, mixed with good ice, Fever Tree Lite Tonic Water and a lime . . . delicious. And I bet 90% or more of ex co-workers don't really stay in touch except via Linkedin or something like that.

    Linda - That's a good perspective as I know most management teams loathe doing this (some on the other hand are just assholes), and my company was defnitely in the former category. Like you mentioned, it just saps morale for everyone involved and is flat-out tough. And I think you're 100% right - for now, you just try to hang on & do the best you can. That's my aim . . .

    Nobich - I've heard about that option, and at first, I thought it sounded great as I would like that day off too. But then I really started calculating the drop in pay that would cause, and like you, realized it does hurt indeed. But it's still a day off. :)

    Wendy - Ouch. It just stinks to see people you like be shown the door. But thanks as I'm glad to still be around for now.

  19. kmwthay Says:
  20. I work for a very small Not for Profit in OKC and we've experienced some layoffs too. It's funny, I'm closer to 3 people who don't work there anymore than I am to anyone else in my office. We even hang out from time to time. In fact, tomorrow I'm going with 2 of them to Tulsa to see a show. You'll keep in contact with the ones you want too. Don't worry.

  21. Miss Ash Says:
  22. Such things are never easy....good thing you made it through the cuts.

    Didn't you once catch a higher up doing squats or push ups or something? Perhaps he wants you to keep his sweaty secret.

  23. Oh man, that sucks. That really sucks. I'm glad you survived the cuts. I hope there's not a next round.

  24. Kmwthay - That's good to hear that it CAN happen. Ha. I've already got one lunch lined up for next week, so I do think it's possible. We'll know soon enough.

    Miss Ash - I did. The CEO in fact . . . maybe that had something to do with it as I had forgotten about that time. Ha. But never again as I will remind him (subtly of course) at some point in the future just to let him know that I know.

    Native Minnow - Thanks as it was just a heavy, shitty day. And I'm with you as I hope there's not another round (they said they did it deep enough to avoid that), but you never really know when things go sideways.

  25. TROLL Y2K Says:
  26. That's awful. I tend to agree with the philosophy of making significant cuts early-on rather than dragging it out. At least for most businesses, and prior to the Obamanation, that was the wiser course.

    but it still sucks.

  27. Boxer Says:
  28. one word, wait, two: Bombay Martini.

    Dry. Up.

  29. Troll Y2K - I do agree with that philosophy too because leaking cuts over weeks/months only paralyzes everyone and is worse in the long run. But as you noted, it still sucks. We'll see if they can keep their word or not. With a little luck, I think we're OK until end of year & hopefully the overrall economic climate will improve by then as well. We'll see.

    Boxer - Excellent. I will look up a recipe as in addition to getting into gin, I am also getting into a home bar and figuring out how to make drinks that I enjoy. It's a hobby. Ha. Thanks.

  30. BostonPobble Says:
  31. I am glad this went the way it did ~ and think it sucks it happened at all. As you say, no one feels good about it. *sigh*

  32. Bostonpobble - I know - it's just ugly all the way around. I'm glad it's over . . . for now.


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