Why your layoff resembles a supermarket checkout.



Hi, can I check you out?

Notice the similarities? “Can I have your card? Would you like paper or plastic? “If you need help with all that we can walk you to your car.” Executives usually get a cardboard box, two security guards and a ride to the outskirts of town. When Bristol Myers Squibb had a huge layoff in 2007, I figured I was going. I had been relocated to the home office from a sales position in Arizona because I had created a patient education video that had a serious impact on my sales numbers.

Once I got back, I found, much to my dismay, video, on-line marketing and permission based e-detailing, were not ready for prime time in this outfit (even though innovation was slapped all over every piece of branding they had). Loin cloths were appropriate attire at the time.

This left me with lots of down time which I put to good use by flying all over the country and learning from the masters in all of the above on the company’s dime. Have to say though, feeling under utilized and seeing what really went on in house had a very negative impact on me. So when the layoff rumors started percolating I was more than ready. I had been receiving offers from different entities for my specialized skill set but didn’t feel as though I was quite ready to jump.

That changed quickly when I heard there was a year’s severance and some boo hoo money. The day finally came when all the floors were flooded with strange people hogging all the copy machines with management and HR reps escorting sobbing employees to secluded rooms where they laid the bomb on them. It was surreal.

I could hardly contain myself. I was so excited, I called my wife and told her to pick a nice place for lunch, as I would be home early. Real early! I packed my office, started running stuff to my car while consoling the wounded and bleeding scattered in the hallways on the way out. Amazingly, the ones who every single day, swore they were going, pooped their pants when it did happen. I thought one guy needed a baby aspirin in a hurry. His color was gone and he was speechless. So much for playing Devil’s Advocate with yourself.

Then, as I was walking down the hallway I saw my boss, who strangely, thought I was a guy named Wally Smith. She asked if she could see me in my office. I remember pushing open the swinging doors to where my office was located with her and an HR rep in tow, feeling giddy, lightheaded and unsure how I would really feel once I was told I wasn’t needed anymore.

But alas, it was not to be. As I escorted them into my neatly packed office and ready to assure them I would be off the property immediately, this very strange lady, who I had been supposedly directly reporting to for the last year, opened with “Going somewhere Wally?” After I corrected her as to who I was, she said, I would like to inform you that (pause) you still have a job.”

“Are you shitting me?,” is not exactly a professional response, but it was all I had. I mean, what do you say after you’ve been robbed of a year’s severance pay plus? I was outraged. Surely there had been some type of mistake. Do you even know who I am or what I do? Nope. No parole for you.

So there I was, at the checkout counter with all my groceries, my card out and ready to do the deal (for the good of the company, mind you) and the guy says, “I’m sorry sir, this register is closed!”

If you’ve made it this far down the page and think you can endure more of this nonsense, click the subscribe button and get free delivery. You can also leave a comment with suggestions  on where I can get professional help. Thanks. E.R.


Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.