Thursday, July 2, 2009

Violence in the Workplace

Ok, you've been laid off. Canned. Sacked. Discarded by the company you sold all those hours of your life to for a pittance. You're done. Finished. Told you have 15 minutes to gather your belongings and get escorted out. Barely time to delete the outlook folder marked "personal" from your email. Not enough time to keep from snotting up, streaming hot tears as you choke out a "goodbye" to the two hourly employees you walk by on the way out the door. Vamoose. Move along, lady.

Blinking in the sunlight, slightly stunned at the crafty sleight-of-hand that moved you from the neatly stacked deck of busy-and-productive-steadily-employed-head-of-household-breadwinner to the unshuffled pile of out-of-work-laid-off-umemployed-overeducated-loser. Call you parents, drive home, up the stairs, wait patiently until your boyfriend gets off the phone. He's angry. You're stunned and breathless like you've stumbled off the high dive and hit the water with a flat smack. Feeling peaceful as you gently drift, sinking down until the panic of not being able to breathe hits.

All night long the scene in the office plays over and over in your head. Each gesture, each word picked apart and examined, trying to crack open the image to reveal some meaning. It was a really hard decision, she said. I'm really sorry. HR is on the phone if you have any questions. What was your response? No. Thank you. Not at this time. HR doesn't have any answers for me, they can't tell answer: what did I do wrong? how I could have stopped it? why me? who knew? and when did they know? shouldn't I have sensed something was wrong? did anyone fight for me? why do I have to leave now? what is it that they think I'll do?

With one act, I've been moved from the position of loyal employee, three years service to the company, to that of a targeted adversary. A money-gobbling cancer to be cut out; an tainted dissident to be quarantined so as to not infect employee morale; a black mold to be scrubbed out, painted over, and forgotten. While over at the corporate office, they continue to bloodlessly make cuts, drop bombs, and decimate lives.


  1. I am glad this is on the page. It is very compelling. Thank you.

  2. Thanks, PK, I appreciate your comments!

  3. my mother was fired three days ago. she's 56 and had worked for the agency for three years. no reason to fire her--other than limited income. i appreciate reading your writing jen.