On being shown the door…

An old friend and former co-worker of mine has had his own small business for many years.

Today, he told me that due to financial straits (one of his major clients is cutting his retainer significantly) he’s going to have to let one of his employees go. She’s relatively young, so this may be her first pass through the meatgrinter of being fired — let alone with no warning and through no fault of her own.

Me being me, I had to chip in:

None of my business, but — having been fired and/or laid off more than a few times — I have a couple of observations.

(1) Money. Don’t know whether she has other income (trust fund, father, robs banks on weekends), but there isn’t a lot you can do about this except hope that her unemployment insurance is in order. I’m guessing you don’t give severance; but it’s a thought. So is some way of keeping her on part time until she finds something.

(2) In addition to the obvious financial issues, there’s a huge blow dealt to one’s pride and self-esteem. You may be happy to get rid of this person. But if you aren’t, maybe there’s something to lift her spirits.

When the Herald folded, they offered outplacement assistance, which was a joke. The Times took a lot of us (even me, eventually, though not a result of Hearst’s “efforts”); everybody else had to figure out our own path. We had a pretty generous severance, and COBRA, which helped. But what really helped was encouraging calls from a couple of friends in the business who gave me work:  sometimes chickenshit $100 jobs; sometimes more. But it was work; a base to stand on as I looked around, and made me feel somewhat less worthless. I owe those people a huge debt.

Or, of course, you can just dump her ass on the street. It isn’t that cold out there, and you did wait until after Christmas, which puts you ahead of a lot of other employers.

Good luck. I don’t envy you.

He wrote back that she has unemployment, is getting a couple weeks’ severance, and is eminently employable — if, that is, there are any jobs to be had.

“Both of us ([my partner] and I) are dreading giving her the message. I know she’ll cry and I don’t like being around crying women. It may be necessary, but it ain’t no fun.”


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