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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

“Hey, Where Is Everybody Today? Did I Miss a Memo?”

Oh, yeah? Well, my blog can kick your blog’s ass!

So today I got laid off, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. First of all, the terminology’s all wrong — in the end, I neither got laid, nor did I get off. Which was pretty disappointing, of course. I even went into my exit interview with a big peacock feather and a bottle of baby oil, but I got nothin’. Bupkis.

(Which is probably for the best — the guy processing me looked pretty stubbly, when you got right down to it. So I’m kinda glad we didn’t, um, you know, ‘get right down to it’.)

Anyway, it was all cool. Certainly, I wasn’t afforded the luxury of a golden parachute, but neither did the process feel like a big golden shower.

(Couldn’t talk ’em into that, either. Tough crowd this afternoon.)

Okay. Running screaming away from that image…

So, anyway, no golden parachute. Probably not a silver parachute, either. More like a plaid tablecloth that I can hold by the corners, and try not to look down. More than a firm handshake and a bag of doughnuts, certainly, but I’m not gonna be buying the Elephant Man’s bones or anything to celebrate, either. A fair deal for a fair job. (As opposed to others I know who’ve gotten fairly jobbed and just had to deal.) But the main thing, as it usually is on these occasions, is that most of us getting boot applied to ass today could see it looming before it actually connected. Our company — well, now, their company, those bastiges! — actually handled it fairly well, if you ask me. And you didn’t. No one did. Everyone knows better by know. But I’m gonna tell you anyway, so — nyah!

“The lookout sounds the alert, shrill and panicked: ‘Boss!! Bossss!! BOSSSS!!!'”

As I was saying, the higher-up muckety-mucks did a pretty decent job of making the situation pretty obvious, and easing us lower-down lackey-lacks into enlightenment. If you’re familiar with the old joke, then you’ll understand when I say that they essentially told us that the dog was on the roof, and then sick, and then dead before they broke the news about Mother to us. And if you’re not familiar with the joke, then none of that made any damned sense to you, you poor, pitiful soul. Oh, and I also just ruined a joke for you that you’ll probably hear sometime in the future. You can thank me later, really.

Of course, the one thing that we weren’t told by the powers-that-boot was the actual date on which our desks would be emptied out the window.

(I kid, I kid. This particular multinational concern has a bit of class. We weren’t even summarily escorted from the building. Well, okay, I was, but only after I got a little overzealous with the baby oil while the outplacement services girl was trying to give me her business card.)

(Hey, while we’re here — is there any other word in the English vernacular that becomes incoherent monkey babble when you remove its ‘-ment’? How in the rosy Hell do you ‘outplace‘ something? I mean, who uses that word? Outplace. ‘So sorry, old chap, but we have to outplace you now.’ Or, ‘If this keeps up, there’s going to be some serious outplacery around here!’ ‘Mildred’s been very upset about all of the outplacitatious behavior around the office lately.’ Who makes this shit up? And can I have the job? (No, really — I could kinda use the cash right now to patch up this tablecloth I’m dangling from…))

Now, where was I? Ah, yes — keeping the big You Ain’t Got to Go Home, But You Got to Get On Up Outta Here date a secret.

So, from what I’m told, this is common practice. And ‘Why is that?’, you may be asking. (Of course, for all I know, you’re asking, ‘What makes you think I care?’ Or, ‘Just where is Funkytown, anyway?’ Or even, ‘Who the hell is Mildred?’ These are good questions, important questions all… but I’m not answering those questions now. Those questions will have to take a number and sit among the lepers and screaming children a la at the DMV, and wait their turns. Right now, I’m answering this question:)

‘Why is that?’ (As if any of us even remembers by now what that is anymore…)

Anyway, the reason — so these giants of business and industry tell me — the reason that you cannot tell people the date on which they’re to be fired is that if you tell them exactly when they’re going to be canned, then they will simply render themselves scarce at the given time, making it much, much harder to actually perform the scheduled canning. It seems a bit daft to me, frankly — sort of an ‘if I can’t see you, you can’t fire me‘ proposition that, in the final analysis, turns out to be horribly misguided and non-truthy. But it does smack a bit of Darwinism, doesn’t it?

<David Attenborough voiceover>

Behold. These noble, majestic beasts are employee birds. They’re seen here relaxing in their natural habitat, known locally as the cubicle farm. They seem contented enough, pecking here at a keyboard, there at a coffee mug. Gentle creatures of the great Office Plains.

But danger is lurking. A fearsome predator is approaching the flock, and these defenseless, flightless creatures will have to call upon all of their wits and instincts for survival. Look — just there! An elevator opens and belches forth an employee hawk, the scourge of the humble employee bird. They’ve not yet picked up his scent — wait! Now! Yes — all activity stops as they sense the hawk’s presence. The lookout sounds the alert, shrill and panicked: ‘Boss!! Bossss!! BOSSSS!!!’

The employee birds scatter, this way and that, abandoning cubes and desks for the safety of the nearest fire escape. Fascinating! Pens and papers fly as the birds skitter to and fro, with a single chance for survival — escape the boss-bird without locking eyes with this most dangerous of foes. And just that quickly, the office is emptied. It appears as though the flock has been fortunate this time — hold on! No! Here’s a straggler, just stepping out of the rest room!

Oh, rotten luck for this poor creature as he turns the corner and runs right into the clutches of the enemy. He’s struggling, of course, but it’s all over now. Yes, the hawk has his prey in his hypnotizing gaze, and the death throes have begun. Now the pink slip is finally delivered, and it’s off to see the HR representative, as the circle of life marches on…

</David Attenborough voiceover>

So maybe today’s way is better, I don’t know. I’m still not sure that most rational people would consider the attendance equivalent of ‘La la la la la. La la la la la…’ to be an effective path to job security, but then this whole sentence really depends on ‘most rational people’ and ‘most people’ being fairly similar in scope, doesn’t it? Disprove that notion (with, say, a trip to your friendly local shopping mall), and the whole thing crumbles like a house of Toll House cookies. Which leaves us with the alternative — do your best to let folks know that something wicked this way comes.

(Or don’t, if you think you’ll still be able to sleep at night, you spineless weenie…. yep, redundant, I know. Weenies have no spines; let it go.)

But under no circumstances should you tell them when the evil will arrive, or from what direction. Which will leave them jumpy and irritable, which is exactly the state you want someone to be in as you’re trying to dropkick them past the front gates, of course.

So you lose the element of surprise (‘Boo! You’re fired!’), which will likely prevent the downsizee from going postal on that day; but you’re then running the risk that s/he is going to lose a lugnut and let loose with a Luger on pretty much any day leading up to the big one. I suppose it’s a wash. It’s Chinese water torture versus taking a Band-Aid right off(!) in one motion. Matter of taste, really, though neither is exactly Beluga, if you catch my drifticles.

Anyway, I guess that about wraps it up for that. I had a good run, some good fun, and a cinnamon bun.

(Which wasn’t good, so I’m not sure why I mentioned it. Why do people still insist on frosting perfectly good cinnamon buns with that pale, pasty orange Jello-flavored icing, anyway? It looks a lot like regular, old-fashioned good old American white icing (which is just unadulterated sugar, the way Nature intended), but then it’s just vile. Viiiiiile. Heinous, even. It tastes more like cheese than orange, for one thing. No, not even cheese — it tastes like cardboard that was once rubbed against cheese, maybe, but real cheese-taste is way too good to describe this dreck.)

I’m sorry. I don’t know where the hell that came from. I can’t even remember the last time I had a cinnamon bun. (Which is that damned icing’s fault, but I don’t know why that got all de-repressed and wiggly now. I’ll try to control myself in future…)

So. In conclusion (oh, for the love of Hilda, please let that be true…), life goes on. My number was up, and I got jobbed. Or rather, de-jobbed. Obviously. But I did have a good run. I survived as many euphemisms as I could — reshaping, restructuring, even the ever-popular downsizing. Just to be felled by desperate massive layoff measures. What are ya gonna do? Move on. Onward and upward. Buy a suit, and find another flock to hang with. Hey, I think I’ll take my baby oil to the entry interviews. And this time, I’m not taking ‘Ewwwww!!!’ for an answer!

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