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It’s not nice to get fired. I didn’t like it one little bit. I’ve never in all my very long working career been told that my services were no longer needed or appreciated. It hurt my feelings — it really did. It certainly made no difference in my income since it was a volunteer position! Who has ever had to go through that humiliation of being fired when they’re not even getting paid for the work? That’s crazy. I was totally agreeable to A’s decision to get a new tutor for Grade 10 English. Really, I didn’t mind. It would, for the first time in two years, free up my Wednesday afternoons. But I did think my “firing” could have been handled with a lot more respect and kindness.

But are they ever handled that way? Is it even possible to tell someone they’re no longer needed — or wanted — in a workplace in such a way that wouldn’t hurt their spirit just a little? I don’t think so. I have comforted too many of the newly-unemployed-shell-shocked-survivors of firings to know that. In most of their sacking-stories, consideration of their feelings or needs were not on the agenda. It seemed there was an expectation on the part of the employer that the person getting fired should understand and appreciate that this was necessary. These are hard hard economic times. Wouldn’t they agree that it is a necessity to move the company to India or China or Mexico? Oh, and by the way, before you leave we’re sending you down to Mexico to train the people who are going to be doing your jobs.

I witnessed that first-hand at a factory here that had been in operation in the same place for over 100 years. It was moving to Mexico. I was there to help people with their resumes and figuring out what to do now. I talked to people who had been with this company for 40 years. They were happy. They were family. They were shocked. Each time I went, there were fewer cars in the parking lot, fewer machines still operating, fewer forklifts driving between the yellow lines on the floor, but, at the same time, fresh birthday decorations were hanging up in the lunchroom for one of the few who remained. It was all very sad.

So how can anyone not feel a little bruised after that no matter how the message is delivered or even how big a severance package is offered?

And wouldn’t the one doing the firing also feel bruised? I remember years ago sitting in Bob Evans Pancake House in Columbus, Ohio with some of my family and asking my nephew what he was doing these days. He said he was responsible to travel to different factories in the US and Europe to close them down, hand out pink slips and move on to the next. I blurted out a “What a terrible job.” and he answered, “Aunt Ann, it’s business.” I don’t think he was really that unfeeling, he’s too good guy for that, but I think it must be necessary to remove yourself from the hurt eh? Maybe that’s why some folks are doing the firing by email. One of my niece’s recently received an email-termination-notice — signed with a 🙂! Who would do that?

I’m not so naive that I can’t understand why these changes are happening and even necessary in some cases. But I do believe that we can figure out ways to make it a little less traumatic for the people on the other side of that desk — or email.

In the meantime, I’m going to go out and order a case of FALFALGGAIFAL buttons — Free At Last, Free At Last, Great God Almighty, I’m Free At Last. Then, I’ll have them ready to wear and to give to clients for that bumpy ride on the roller coaster of getting fired. It ain’t easy. But, after ever dip, there’s always a return to the top. And at some point — after the fear from loss of income subsides, and the shaky self-confidence steadies and, in some cases, the sadness of betrayal subsides — then maybe they can look at it as a FALFALGGAFAL blessing.

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