Posted by: nflanders | January 8, 2009

Nothing’s coming up Milhouse

Things aren’t going too well. I feel guilty about writing that, since some people have real, scary problems, and most of my problems are of the annoyance variety, but there it is.

I got fired in December. Whenever I talk to my parents, my mom says, “say laid off, not fired.” So anyway, I guess I was technically “laid off” since they eliminated my position due to budget restrictions, but it doesn’t feel any different. Plus, there were five people with my exact job and two of us got fired. I had the least seniority and the other guy had the most seniority. Translation: I was in the bottom 40th percentile in my job. Or even worse, they thought all three other people did a better job than me. I wasn’t the best person at my job, but I thought I was still better than two of those three. (Notice I’m assuming I was second on the chopping block, not first. I guess my ego needs its defense mechanisms.)

The worst part is that they fired me over the phone. I mean, really? I had that Tuesday scheduled off for a couple of weeks, so it’s not like they didn’t know I’d be out of the office. Maude had to go to New York on business, so it was just me and Rod all day. He started freaking out at about 4:00 pm, we think due to a thrush infection. Maude had just got back from New York and was waiting on a call back from the pediatrician and I was washing a syringe so we could feed Rod with it since he couldn’t bear even having a bottle in his mouth. Maude hands me the phone and says it was work. Stupidly, my first thought was that they were calling to remind me to bring something for the Yankee Swap the next day. Instead it was my boss’s boss and the company’s legal counsel.

My boss’s boss asked me we could talk or if it was a bad time. I told her (over Rod’s shrieks) that I had a crying baby and could we talk tomorrow? Of course, it didn’t matter that it was a bad time. She said she wanted to send out an email this evening so we’d better talk now. Blah, blah, blah, and of course I knew at that point that I was getting fired. It’s amazing how much they want to say to you. “You’ll be receiving a FedEx package tomorrow morning with three checks. One is for your outstanding pay as of today. The second is for your unused vacation time…”

Finally, my boss’s boss asked me if there was anything I didn’t want mailed to me from my desk. This caught me off guard. “You mean, I shouldn’t come in tomorrow?” I asked. “No, it would be better if you didn’t.” Sure enough, THEY MAILED ME THE CONTENTS OF MY DESK. What kind of messed up b.s. is that? I understand (but don’t agree with) the indignity of having security escort you off the premises, but to not even let you clean out your own freaking desk? I am still curious who got the job of emptying my drawers and examining every piece of paper to determine if it was work related or not. Had I known I was getting fired, I would have gone to the newsstand and purchased a puzzling and disturbing array of magazines to leave in my desk drawers. Cat Fancy, Guns & Ammo (with post-it notes on every page), Archie comics, and hard-core pr0nography. True to their word, a week after I was fired, I received a FedEx box with my personal effects in it. They did not, however, include my box of Kleenex or the Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi I left in the fridge. I am still considering my legal options.

So basically, I took a Tuesday off, and I haven’t been back since. I haven’t had any contact with my supervisor or boss. My last words to my boss, my supervisor, and my co-workers were, “See you on Wednesday!” I guess that’s not uncommon, but it seems weird to me. I thought my boss and I were chummy; he offered to give me his TiVo for God’s sake! I guess not. I didn’t even get a phone call from him. In the weeks after I got fired, I’d remember little things and get upset all over again. My supervisor assigned me a project in November that she made due on the Monday before I got fired. I remember thinking at the time that it was an arbitrary deadline, since it didn’t need to be done for another few weeks, but I forgot all about it. But it irritates me now to know that she knew way in advance and didn’t give us any hints. My boss had said everyone in our department should be safe until at least July 2009.

What really sucks is that I had made plans dependent on being at this job. We got a daycare place nearby so I could drop Rod off on the way to work. I was planning on taking a class this semester (employees get free tuition) and I had about 7 books out from the institutional library. Also, it was a hard job to find and pretty cushy once I was there. No overtime, few deadlines, and I could listen to my iPod while I worked. It’s just depressing to think that my next job almost certainly won’t be as nice as my last job. It’s supposed to go in the other direction.

I shouldn’t be upset since it was a nice place to work, but I really think they handled it poorly. It reminds me of the Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a nice guy, and she doesn’t understand why his ex-girlfriends throw drinks in his face when they see him. Only when they break up and he calls her “big head” does she realize that he’s a Bad Breaker-Upper. That’s how this job was. There were some nice people there, they gave four weeks vacation (!), which is unheard of, and there were some nice side benefits, but ultimately they fire you over the phone and rifle through your desk. I guess I’m the big head.



  1. Re: “You mean, I shouldn’t come in tomorrow?” I asked. “No, it would be better if you didn’t.” Sure enough, THEY MAILED ME THE CONTENTS OF MY DESK.

    Wow!!! I was about to say, “Ah, yes, I’ve gotten laid off for budget reasons too, so I can relate,” right up until that line. That is beyond messed-up.

  2. Your boss is PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, like woah. That’s a crummy way to treat another human being.

    I hope things look up for you soon.

  3. Thank you, CHanson. I’ve never been fired before (somehow) but I thought that was bizarre. Who would want the job of going through someone else’s desk? I had so much crap in there (mostly work papers, but nothing organized) that it must have taken several hours. I know where everything is; I could have taken care of it in 15 minutes.

    Thanks, Wendy. Maybe I should call my boss up like nothing happened and say, “I’d like to take you up on that offer of the TiVo.”

  4. That is very sad–I would be very upset. I guess you get to keep your Yankee Swap item (hope it was good) and I am betting your caffiene-free diet pepsi will be a memorial to you for a long time to come. No one is going to touch it.

    Best of luck. I hate the idea that the last job was as good as it gets, so I hope someone gives you a call and offers you big bucks to work from home.

  5. Thank you, ESO. Fortunately, I never got around to buying the Yankee Swap item. Also, I like the idea of the cursed Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi haunting the refrigerator, kind of like a memento mori, or memento firi, as the case may be.

    For now, I’m staying home with Rod. I think that’s a lot better than work, at least for now.

  6. Oy. I’ve never been fired either, but that just sounds weird. I don’t quite understand why they (she) didn’t want you to come in. Why the weirdness on the phone. Why not just wait until Wednesday to tell you? It does sound like a supervisor who doesn’t handle conflict well.

  7. It’s too bad you didn’t have a vision of the future, like from an angel or satan or someone, where they could tell you to go ahead and inject some seriously large amounts of laxative into that diet Pepsi. You know some asshole is gonna drink that and have nothing to remember about it later.

    I’m of two minds on this topic. Well, let me clarify — I think it straight-up SUCKS that you got laid off. I wouldn’t assume it means ANYTHING about your performance. Seriously, as a longtime HR person (don’t be a hater, I gave it up a while back), I have seen reasons for who gets the layoff be all over the map. And those who were getting the sack for poor performance were by far in the minority. Plus, you rock — so admit it and live with it and get over it.

    So my two minds are this: In some ways, it’s really harsh and shocking to be laid off and NEVER go back to work. It’s like jumping off a cliff. (And did they give you nothing more than outstanding pay and vacay time — no additional package at all? Bastards.) But a clean, cold cut is also one of the best ways to KNOW it’s over and move on. Full stop. Quick and dirty, if you will.

    Then there’s the way my company does it. Lay people off, give them three-six months notice, and keep them at work the entire time. They are like walking dead people, and all things come to a halt for months while the system reboots. It’s a nice time for transitioning and to attempt redeployment, but it’s a general productivity and morale killer. I saw people circling the drain for months, and it was so hard to watch.

    Layoffs suck. They SUCK. For the layoff-ees and the layoff-ers. But mostly for the layoff-ees. But be of good cheer, my brother, for there are good things yet to come.

    Hang in there, Ned Flanders. You are teh awesome. No kidding.


  8. Hey Ned Flanders! Your demanding fans here issuing a hue and cry! How ya doin??

  9. that really sucks. i agree you should have been able to clean out your own desk.

  10. weird. it seems like they felt bad about firing you and the easiest way to deal with it was not to have to see you. still, that’s really weird.

    your little guy must be crawling around now. i hope he’s doing well!

  11. Tough break. You’re an excellent writer, though. Keep it up!

  12. Gee Ned. I just stumbled onto your blog after reading about Carlton Pearson and I got a double dose of the hazards of losing faith.

    My first thought is to be thankful I have so little faith to lose. But my second is that people all over are getting laid-off.

    But to move on, what faith I had was washed away, when I was a child. One day, standing in the back of a speeding truck, with the wind blowing at me, I experienced a moment of revelation, that if there were so many religions, and only one could be true, then maybe none were. I figured that if one was true, and all the others were not, it would show.

    I don’t know that I ever became an atheist, or an agnostic. I think I became an it-doesn’t-matterist. (I must work on a better name) My thought was that I would try to live as if there was a wise God.
    Then, if there was, he would know I was on-side. If there wasn’t, there wasn’t. Simple really.

  13. 😦

    I’m so sorry. I wish you weren’t angry, but I don’t blame you. I will *really* miss you.

  14. Yep, still 😦


  15. It’s been a year but I keep coming back very hopeful that you might have posted something new. Hope all is well.

  16. Something you should see here, Ned, if you’re still around.

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