Before you fire me, let me introduce myself

Before coming into the office this morning, I cuddled up with Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy. It’s a memoir of Kennedy’s year or so spent working as a marketing wonk for Atlantic Records.

I had just gotten to the part where Kennedy was getting laid off (I’m not ruining the plot by revealing that) and it reminded me of my own lay off experiences.

The first time I was supposed to be laid off, shortly after the acquisition of little software company by Hell, Inc. I didn’t get laid off. The news came as such a surprise that when I ran into Tri-Kap in the hallway he said I looked so pale and shaken that he thought I was going to pass out.

When he asked me if I was okay or if I needed to sit down I half cried/whispered, “They’re keeping me.” Tri-Kap laughed so hard he’s the one who ended up on the floor.

It’s a story that my co-workers past and present never tire of telling. The tale of this layoff is no different.

On the day the ax fell, we were all gathered into the board rooms and told they were closing the office. After that we had to meet in small groups with our managers and some Canadian grand poobah the boss boss would visit us to give us the details.

So we’re sitting in Jayto’s office cracking wise about the layoff and how we all knew it was coming. In comes Jayto’s boss, a nervous-looking Canadian who sits down and launches into the HR-approved spiel about our value and talent and blahblahblah.

When he’s done with the spiel he pauses, fidgets with some papers and then looks out at us.

I stand up off the couch and extend my hand. “Hi. We’ve never met, I’m Jodi.”

Maria introduces herself too, and Jayto does everything she can not to lose her shit.

It was only later that day while we were all at lunch that I realized the absurdity of me introducing myself to the man who was going to lay me off. My co-workers howled with laughter as Jayto retold the story. She told it was indicative of the problems the company had.

I think it’s indicative of the problems in corporate america. Nothing is quite so dehumanizing as just being a random name without a face. Which is totally different than being eyes without a face.

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4 Comments

  1. bakiwop 20.Feb.08 at 2:23 pm

    it’s all in the name: human resources. how the hell bosses decided that would be the best way to refer to employees – it is perhaps the most accurate way to refer to employees, of course – but still.

    you actually introduced yourself to the person firing you? that is wonderful.

    Reply
  2. Jodi 20.Feb.08 at 2:26 pm

    I had to. He had envelopes with our names on them and my brain fast forwarded about 2 minutes and I know I would not be able to bear the awkwardness that would happen while he tried to pronounce my last name and figure out who I was at the same time.

    Ugh.

    Reply
  3. UH 20.Feb.08 at 7:21 pm

    OK, so your telling of this little tableau reminds me of the scene in French Kiss where Meg Ryan is at the Canadian Embassy in Paris trying to get her visa renewed. If the guy in your story didn’t look at all like the guy in the movie, just let me think he did anyway.

    Reply
  4. Placemat 20.Feb.08 at 9:09 pm

    “When he’s done with the spiel he pauses, fidgets with some papers and then looks out at us.

    I stand up off the couch and extend my hand. “Hi. We’ve never met, I’m Jodi.””

    LOL. That was pretty great.

    Reply

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