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I remember the day like yesterday. The offer letter arrived in my email inbox to the sound of angels, a full compensation package well detailed.
I graciously accepted. You knew I would.
Thanks, Boss! I can’t wait to get to work!
Wow, I was so eager to dig my teeth into all these open-ended projects left over from the former employee.
All these hundreds of overdue tasks are in a state of non-completion. I’m just grateful that many of them haven’t even been touched so that I can begin with step one.
Wait, I’ll need to first figure out if any of these tasks are applicable anymore.
That should keep me well busy for the first 30 days of my employment while I’m also figuring out how to get payroll setup for myself.
Accounting keeps sending paper checks to a wrong home address and the bank’s stop payment takes 1–3 business days before they can recut a new payroll check for me.
Don’t worry though, boss. I got it! Thankfully, I have some savings and can bridge the financial gap and make rent.
At our first meeting together, you went into a long rant about how it’s important that “we’re a team and on the same page.” You said that statement over and over again — I’ll never forget it.
“We’re a team and on the same page.”
Okay, I like the sound of that too.
I guess that’s important because the employee I replaced was so difficult to work with. Wild mood swings, yelling, shouting, angry outbursts. You even said he threw something at the staff.
Wow. Sorry to hear you had to deal with that for four whole years.
I promise to never do those things.
Oh, the former employees also stole from you and the business.
Darn, that’s rough. I will never steal from you.
I actually find places where you are losing money, stop the financial bleeding, and create systems around your business to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
That’s not totally true. Last week, I needed to mail something, and I took one of your company stamps.
Who the fuck mails anything any more? I can’t be bothered to buy stamps!
Sorry, that was a bit entitled, and I told you about the 55 cent infraction and asked you to deduct it from my paycheck, the one that keeps getting mailed to the wrong location.
I know you said that electronic direct deposit will NEVER happen. I can show you how, it’s super easy.
I don’t play video games or surf porn.
I don’t pay my bills or take care of my personal business during company time.
I report my expenses perfectly and even have the company accountant double check my math.
Actually, last week I told you about a round of beers that was accidentally placed on the company credit card, but you said it was cool because I was with our best clients.
Oh, that’s right, I have an entertainment budget. Whew! Okay, cool, thank you.
We’re a team and on the same page.
The company accountant was all in a twist about the overage I collected from a client’s downpayment. I know you only wanted a 20% initial deposit, but the client was so happy with the product and the relationship we built. They wanted to pay in full, in cash.
Sorry, I know that really messed things up for you guys. I just figured more money sooner would help with those cash flow problems you’re always speaking about.
I won’t do that again. I’ll collect the 20% according to company policy and let the client pay the balance a year later. I’m sure you’ll figure out the cash flow problems on your own, even though you’re always talking about them with no solutions presented.
I’ll mind my business next time and not take such an initiative.
Oh, I meant to tell you about my insurance visit and see if you can help.
I used the company benefits program I’m eligible for but it doesn’t cover the standard yearly doctor’s visit for a checkup. I had to pay in cash, but they told me the company would reimburse me for the $180. Human Resources said they’ve never experienced this problem and I would have to complete a claims form but they don’t have any.
What should I do?
Please get back to me about that in the next six to 12 months. No rush!
You said I wasn’t present at the meeting today and seemed distracted. Can you elaborate more about that, please?
No, I wasn’t late. Check.
No, I wasn’t rude or dismissive to a colleague. Check.
No, I didn’t miss any work deadlines or client appointments. Check.
Hmm… I’m so confused why you’d think that. I might have been a little distracted, but that’s only because, and I mean no disrespect by this, you say the exact same thing in our DAILY team meeting.
We all check in with inauthentic greetings and head nods.
You run through your long task list.
We listen to your co-manager exhale deeply and act exhausted about all she has to do. Hey, what is a “co-manager” anyway? Should I be reporting to her too?
You didn’t have answers to my previous six challenges I have with prospective clients, so maybe I was just zoned out a little and wondering how I’d do my job today.
But hey , you kept saying, “We’re a team and on the same page!” and seemed real excited about whatever that means, so I just assumed this was all my problem.
On another subject, we’re having challenges with these five new leads that came in last night after hours.
I spoke to all of the prospects and they’re ready to buy, but the software system has changed again. I’m really nervous about drafting contracts because your “co-manager” gets mad at me and makes me rewrite them all to her specifications for that day.
I hope she’s in a good mood today.
What should I do? I convinced the clients not to buy our competitor’s product and please give me 24 hours to figure out the glitch.
Glad we’re a team and on the same page.
“Hey, can we please talk later today? I have a personal challenge I need to share with you.”
Yes, I can wait for your fifth cigarette break today.
Client complaint call went long? Yeah, those are tough!
You’re rushing to your lead group networking meeting and then pick up your kid at school after?
Okay, got it. No problem. I can wait another month or two.
Glad we’re a team and on the same page.
“What is it you needed to talk to me about a few weeks back?” you ask in passing as I corralled you to a quiet office corner for a moment of privacy.
“I just want you to know…” I began sheepishly, having rehearsed this conversation dozens of times.
“I have depression and often struggle with symptoms.” I continued.
You said nothing, and that’s cool because it reiterated to me the importance that we’re a team and on the same page.
“Don’t worry, I assured you I know how to manage this. I just thought you should know in case I seem a little reserved one day.”
You then went into a complex, overly vulnerable share about how you had a nervous breakdown a year before I started. The company owner demoted you, you went to a month of treatment, and you’re on a variety of mood-stabilizing drugs to function daily.
Dang, that’s really intense!
Boss, I am SO glad we’re a team and on the same page.
You texted me mid-morning to please not leave, that you needed to meet with me.
“Okay, great, we’re a team and on the same page!” I replied eagerly.
You walked into my office with your co-manager behind you and sat down at the table.
I was going to ask what you need, but before I could speak you said, “We’re going to let you go. It’s just not working out.”
I didn’t say a word.
Silence formed between us like two boulders waiting to be pushed off a cliff.
Your co-manager just pursed her lips together and avoided eye contact with me. I think she was in a bad mood and needed her sixth cigarette break for the day.
I must have had an odd look on my face while wondering what’s next because you said, “We’ve prepared a severance package for you,” and pulled a piece of paper from your lap that actually read “Severance Package” at the top.
I didn’t know we actually titled those documents like that.
A personal will at death has the word W I L L at the top in big fancy bold face type, so this is probably no different.
Wait, I think it’s “Last Will & Testament of Person.”
Come to think of it, a resume doesn’t have the word R E S U M E at the top.
Makes sense, though. I mean, why mess with all that legal mumbo jumbo?
So, this one-page document had a long list of points I would agree to. Petty stuff like,
I will return all company property.
I will not make disparaging remarks on social media.
I will hand over all logins and passwords to company systems.
There were about 10 items — things that seem self-explanatory, especially given my one-year tenure and proving myself as an honest employee.
But hey, probably best to make sure we document all that stuff properly.
Glad we’re a team and on the same page.
Hey, if I agree to all your terms and leave quietly, I will receive two entire weeks of paycheck and you will pay my health insurance for a month.
By the way, I hope accounting sends my check to the right place and can get that reimbursement for the last time I used my health insurance. Whew, that can really be sticky for you guys. Sorry about that.
I have a question about this “Severance Package.”
~ S E V E R A N C E -P A C K A G E ~
You owe me for two weeks of earned vacation. That’s kinda like you’re giving me my own money, right?
Oh, and hey, I sold about $500,000 in product with about $25,000 in earned commissions coming my way.
Oh, I have to be employed still to receive that money that the company will receive and not have to pay a salesperson?
No, you won’t give me a reference?
No, you won’t let me say goodbye to customers, vendors, and colleagues that I’ve built relationships with these last twelve months?
Got it — we’re a team and on the same page.
Gosh, Mr. Employer and your co-manager, I’m sorry you’re “going to let me go and it’s not working out any longer.” Those were your words, right?
Here’s my key.
My signature on the “Severance Package” document.
I’m going to leave with the things I came with that you’ll never get from me.
My relentless ability to solve problems and never quit, to keep going despite challenges and form solid relationships with customers hungry to do business with someone who cares.
I’m also going to file for unemployment, make more money than you were paying me, and spend the next several months interviewing organizations that will value who I really am.
I will never, ever take a job for money again.
I’m glad we’re NOT a team and NOT on the same page.