On April 3, 2017, I received a FedEx package from Company A which contained a formal separation agreement, benefits information and various appendices.
Now, HR Representative Z sent, “…a severance letter with dates and amounts, some blah-blah about being able to use the Employee Assistance Program for a while and some more bullshit about an Outplacement Program,” in an email titled, “For Our Discussion,” on the day I was laid off.
I forwarded “For Our Discussion” and its’ attached documents to my lawyer for his review. Scott is not only my lawyer, he is my accountant, and I’ve been working with him since 1993. He is good – but expensive! So, he’s already reviewed the documents “For Our Discussion,” and now I have to scan the full agreement – one page at a time, because I’m now at home – and forward that to Scott for his review. Like I can afford more lawyer right now!
Not only that, but I have to send the signed agreement back to Company A and wait for a seven day revocation period after they’ve received it before any money actually lands in my checking account. On the day of the next payday. Paydays are every two weeks at Company A. Depending on timing, I’d be waiting almost an entire month!
Savings account? Depleted due to graduate school. IRA / 401K? In good shape, but substantial penalty for early withdrawal.
On top of all of that, Company A did not include postage on the envelope they put in the FedEx package for the return of the separation agreement.
Come on! No postage?!?!?? REALLY?!??!!?
My box contains:
- Yogi Tea
- 7-Hole Punch
- Nail File
- Imari Bowl
- Coffee Mugs
- Lint Brush
- Eye Glass Wash and Cloth
- SAS Brown Book
- My Dad’s SeaBee Name Plate from WWII
I’m guessing my Box of Shame isn’t much different from anyone else’s layoff box.
The Box of Shame usually comes from the copy / print room. Hopefully, no one is there as you empty a couple of packages of paper out of the Box of Shame.
The Box of Shame should be as light as possible, and there should be only one. It is best filled when as few people as possible are in the office – as close to 5PM on a Friday afternoon as possible. Leave behind anything that is not precious or necessary for the next job search. Chances are they will mail you the stuff you left behind, anyway; it’s a slap in the face that arrives by mail a few days after.
The Box of Shame is closely followed by The Walk of Shame.
The Walk of Shame involves getting out the door and to your car with as few people as possible seeing you. Not having to talk with anyone is a victory.
Only one person saw me on my Walk of Shame, carrying my Box of Shame. We didn’t speak.
Company A laid me off on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.
The day before, my boss sent me a meeting invitation titled “Catch Up with Pat.” This didn’t surprise or alarm me. I’d already arranged to take off March 23 to go to The Marine Corps Museum with friends on Thursday – our normal “Catch Up” day. The only thing that was the slightest bit different is that, instead of calling me directly, boss X specified the conference line on the invitation.
When I got on the line, Human Resources representative Z was on the call. I knew right then what was going to happen. Z continued the call in that annoyingly upbeat HR way of talking; an email was on its way, did I get it? Yes.
The email contained a severance letter with dates and amounts, some blah-blah about being able to use the Employee Assistance Program for a while and some more bullshit about an Outplacement Program (annoying HR undertone: isn’t Company A so generous?!?!?!)
There’s something liberating about being laid off over the phone vs. in person! I told Z exactly how stingy I thought the severance payout was and that I was going to hang up and go home. And I did!
WOW! That was POWER! Seriously – I didn’t have to stay and listen to annoying HR-speak if I didn’t want to. When layoffs are in person, you DO have to sit through all of that crap. You don’t want to be there, your boss doesn’t want to be there and one can only assume that the HR person is a normal human and doesn’t want to be there, either; but you’re all in a room together and no one can leave until everyone has spoken their lines and the play is over.
I went to the Marine Corps Museum on Thursday, worked from home on Friday, did the best “knowledge transfer” I could with another analyst on the team (who does not know SAS) and brought my laptop and entry card back to the office with minutes to spare before 5PM.
I left that office for the last time with what I call “The Box of Shame.”