Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day is this Friday and I had one friend already warn me.

"You better not be watching when that son of a bitch takes oath."

Hey, no worries.  Frankly, I haven't been watching when any of the past sons of bitches have taken oath either.   Given how the office has been degraded with each succeeding President, I can't think of a bigger waste of time for me than to plant myself in front of a TV to watch this boondoggle.

"What?!!  You weren't even watching eight years ago when the first African-American President was inaugurated??"

Well, even if I wanted to (and I didn't), I couldn't have.   You see, I was too busy firing people.

Back in 2009, the sleazoid corporation I was involved with at the time decided to use the date of January 20 as a shield to conduct a major, company-wide reduction in force as a means to save money.  They figured that, with the Obama inauguration taking Pages One through 30 in the press, there would be less attention given to this mass exodus of employees.

Eight years later, I am no longer shy about talking this up.

Indeed, this culminated the worst two weeks of my life.   We had all come back feeling good from Christmas break.   On the first day of our return, the company department leaders were each called in one-by-one to the office of the new organization's president, who had been essentially installed in the position to cut costs drastically and oversee this corporate genocide.

I had 12 people in my domain.  I was told by the head scalp hunter that I had to reduce this down to six.  He would even help and gave me a list of names that he had personally chosen, despite the fact that he didn't know a single one of them.

I surveyed the list and agreed on a few of them.   There were a couple of recent college grad hires that fell into the bucket of "last in, first out."  But there was one name on their of a more veteran employee that I just couldn't put out on the street.  He allowed me to put in my own list.

He gave me the list back.   Slightly altered with the veteran name back on.   I sent it back with the veteran name back in.  This idiotic dialogue went on for two days and every time my list came back, that one name was still on it.  It was like an Etch A Sketch where somebody kept erasing your picture.

Persistence paid off and I won this argument, but now had to continue the battle in other ways.   With the target date of dismissal still two weeks away, we we were all coached on how to terminate people.   You couldn't say they were being fired or let go.   The hot phraseology was "separating from their employment."  As if that's any nicer.  Over that two week period, I barely slept. That happens when you realize you are altering the lives of some people drastically.

On the day of execution, this was all to start being engineered by all the managers in a two-hour period first thing in the morning.   I had folks to, separate from their both LA and NY, the latter being over the phone with an0ther manager as witness on that coast.   And then I had a horrible thought.

One of the people being terminated in NY was an African-American woman. God, on what I was sure would be a proud day for her with the Obama inauguration ultimately turning out to be a nightmare.   I decided to come in at 6AM LA time to do this.   I wanted to make sure that, at the very least, she would be home in time to watch the swearing-in.

None of this was easy, but I did it all by the book.  In the LA office, you didn't want to ride the elevator between floors because, if you saw somebody carrying the dreaded white envelope, you knew that person was toe-tagged.

There is one good story from that day which, eight years later, I feel I can now share.   At the time, if anybody knew, I could have been axed myself.   One of the youngsters in my domain had come into my office two days prior and handed in his resignation.   He wanted to go home and pursue a career as a chef in Massachusetts.   Okay, I knew he was on my list.   And I also knew that he would be getting almost nine months of severance pay.

I told the kid that I couldn't explain why but I was not accepting his resignation. I asked him to trust me for two days and he would soon know why.

On the day of execution, I did this kid last and, as I handed him the dreaded white envelope, we were both smiling from ear-to-ear.  I essentially was providing him with some seed money to follow his dream.

Oh, by the way, the veteran name that kept popping up on the kill list.   Still there.   Meanwhile, I am not.   Happily.

No, I won't be watching the inauguration next Friday.  But I also won't be firing people either.

Dinner last night:  Grilled knockwurst.

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