Monday, September 20, 2010

"Yeah, I got yer 'Softer Side' Right HERE, pal!" - Part X I- Resignation

Hello, L'il Nibblers.

After being wiped and discarded by Staples back in May, I began the painful process of begging strangers for some semblance of a future all over again.  Mercifully my work experience over the past six years made me ideally suited to be readily abused in many similar surroundings, so by August 24'th, 2000, I had another job lined up.

This led to a bit of a quandary.  I hadn't experienced anything vaguely approximating a vacation for the past six months and my new taskmasters were requesting that I report for training within two weeks.  I saw a period of much-needed, stress-free down time evaporate with one arbitrary phone call.

But after considering things for a moment I thought: "Wait a minute, Sears f#@$%^ me!   They don't deserve two weeks notice!" 

The mindless work ethic my parents brainwashed me with was finally starting to show cracks in the edifice.  And to think, all it took was a company lying straight to my face and then...stabbing me in said face. 

What can I say?  I'm pretty but not too swift (pun vaguely intended).

So, still channeling my rage, I typed up an uber-pissy resignation letter and marched into Mutt's office.  Here's how the preamble conversation went:

ME: "Hello."
MUTT: "Hello."
ME: "I suppose you've heard all the rumors and stuff going on?"
MUTT: "Of course." (awkward attempt at a sound approximating laughter)
ME: "Well, I guess I have to make it official..."
MUTT: (disapprovingly) "Mmmmm-hmmmm...Are you starting (the new job) on the 5'th?"
ME: "Yeah, I was surprised by that myself.  Rumor had it I'd be going into a training class on the 11'th..."
MUTT: (very disapprovingly) "Mmmmmmmm..."  
ME: "Anyway, it kinda made things more immediate..."
Painfully awkward expanse of silence.
ME: "Aaaaaanyway, I wanted to make my last day the 28'th to have some time off before I start the new job.  I've got some projects I'm working on at home..."
MUTT: (cutting me off) "And my request is that you work the whole week."
Stone cold silence for a moment as I try to mentally process my way out of this Jedi Mind trick.
ME: "Oh, I'll work up until Monday but I have to have some time off before I start the other job."
MUTT: "Well, my response to that would be NO (!).  You have to make up your own mind on that if you want to make just a week from now your last day."
ME: (trying to interject a rebuttal) "Yes, I mean, really..."
MUTT: "This will be the second time I've responded NO. I don't think it's fair to us that you would ask to do that. (!!)"
ME: (finally interrupting) "Well, this whole issue wouldn't even be coming up if not for the announcement that was made on May 11'th."
MUTT: "Well, I realize could leave right now if you'd like..."
ME: "I mean, these are totally different circumstances. I'd ideally like to give two weeks notice, y'know, but..."
MUTT: "Well, that would be normal business etiquette for you, for them to let you give two weeks notice..."
ME: "No, I can't.  I really can't.  I'm sorry..."(What...sorry?!?  Why the f#@$ should you be sorry, they f#@$%^& shit-canned you, you stupid f#@$!!!)
Insert mother of all awkward silences here. 
MUTT: "Well, if you won't, if you can't give us two week's notice, what are we supposed to do?"
ME: "Sorry. (stop saying 'Sorry', you silly git!)   But, I...again, circumstances are unusual..."
MUTT: "It's not my fault and it's not the rest of your team's fault..."
ME: "Look, this is a pretty bittersweet thing for me, okay?  I've been with Sears six years and I like it here.  If not for the announcement, we wouldn't even be having this conversation!"

And by finally standing up to her, things changed instantly.  

She dropped the bad cop routine and suddenly started acting all sweetness and light.  She asked me about my new gig, about their interview process, and we both speculated about the current job market in Halifax.  A couple of times she actually laughed.  Like, legitimately laughed.  I'd never heard her do that before.

But there were greater shocks to come.  She thought the corporate decision to close our center was going to be a "disaster" and maintained that the other sites "never worked up to our standards".  She talked at length about how she would have loved to hear that we were getting a new building in the city.  About how there were plenty of available sites in the nearby Bayers Lake Business Park that could easily have accommodated us. 

It was a revelatory.  Her admissions were refreshing.  I could leave her office now without seeing her as the face of corporate betrayal.  In fact, I'd finally realized that she'd likely been screwed just as badly as the rest of us. 

Here's the letter I turned in:
"August 24, 2000

In light of the announcement on May 11'th, 2000, please accept this letter as notice of my resignation as Coach with the Sears Atlantic Call Center.  Because of the recently disclosed close proximity of my first day of training for my new assignment, my last day at Sears will be August 28'th.

I am leaving Sears through no control nor personal desire of my own.  Despite my best efforts and the best efforts of my co-workers, the company has decided to reward our diligence by taking away our livelihood.  I no longer wish to be associated with a company with such contempt and low regard for its workers.

Although angered by the circumstances necessitating my departure, I am most upset for being forced to leave the co-workers that I have come to know and respect over the past six years.  I can only hope to be associated with the same caliber of people in my new assignment.  Indeed, I have come to regard them as my extended family.  With their help, I have gained critical skills in communication, human relations and training.  I own them dearly and cannot thank them enough.  

In closing, I would like to wish everyone victimized buy this poorly motivated decision the best of luck in all their future endeavors.  I can only hope that what Sears has done to all of us collectively does not become an acceptable trend in business, otherwise luck, not hard work or competence, will be what ultimately guides our fate.


David Pretty"

And so concludes my series about my very own "Sears Days".  Thanks for reading. 

I did it for a few reasons.  I primarily wanted to do this series to prove that I'm not just Whistlin' Dixie when I say I've been abused by a company.  This true story was an integral part of why my enthusiasm to work for a large organization has been systemically beaten out of me.  I wanted you to know just how deep down this rabbit hole went.   

Now, having said that, I also don't want anyone to think that the sort of shenanigans Sears did to me and my co-workers hasn't happened to anyone else.  In fact, I think it's so commonplace that I wouldn't be surprised if you read this and thought: "Big deal, the same thing happened to me.  It's just par for the course."

But really, if we've gotten to the point where we feel pleasantly surprised that the company we work for hasn't jammed us up das poopenchute by now we really need to take a hard look at what kind of society we've de-evolved into.  We need to ask the question: "Who really benefits when big business makes these hair-brained and ethically bankrupt decisions?" 

Now before I sign off I want it on record that I'm not a fan of government intervention in business.  But this story (not to mention the recent global economic meltdown) proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that large corporations often can't be expected to do the right thing.

Most companies are kosher but quite a few of them are in it just to improve the bottom line, keep shareholders happy and make CEO's more filthy lucre than they could ever be able to spend in five lifetimes.

If layoffs or cutbacks are required, these organizations should be forced to throw open their books to an independent government-based review board so that they can approve the request.  If, after a investigation, it's obvious that the layoffs are required to improve the company's economic viability or improve poor staff performance, then they should get a pass.  But if the review shows that the organization is chopping heads and growing new ones in Rangoon just to keep their investors happy and their executives in suits made of one-hundred dollar bills, it should be soundly rejected.

After all, how much profit is enough?  Doesn't money become abstract eventually?  If it didn't, then we wouldn't live in a world in which celebrities pay $32,000 for a f#@$%^& manicure.       

Of course, Gentle Reader, I can hear you scoffing right now.  You just know if my idea was instituted, it would probably only take a week and some change for the first government official to get some kind of super-sweet kick back. 

Ain't life grand?

Keep it real, peoples...



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