Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 2 - At Sea

          I didn’t sleep very well last night. I don’t guess I should have expected to. I kept replaying the meeting with Bill and all the events that led up to it. Something stinks here, but I’m not sure what. Thinking about it at this point is probably counterproductive. It’s not like I can undo anything that’s been done. They really went out of their way to make sure that’s the case. By ‘they’ of course I mean Bill, Fritz the CFO, and Threasher the HR Director. They contrived to keep me in a position of weakness, to limit my options, to force me to behave in a certain and specific way that limits their exposure. It’s all done to protect the company and its assets. I can’t really blame them in that regard. It’s their job. It used to be mine. Now though I’m on the receiving end of the company’s big stick, and there’s no carrot in sight.
The severance agreement is the controlling document. If I don’t sign it I can do anything I want. I can sue them for wrongful termination. I can bad mouth them in public forums so long as I don’t libel them. The beauty of the agreement for them is on the one hand whatever I do isn’t likely to have a very deleterious effect on them, and on the other it would take eons for me to get any legal satisfaction. A wrongful termination suit takes forever, and there are no guarantees because I also signed a paper when I was hired that says that I understand that my employment is at the company’s pleasure, and can be terminated by them at anytime without prejudice. So whatever I might do to get justice, assuming that I even need justice, is uncertain and long-range. Meanwhile, if I just sign the severance agreement, I begin to get paid. I continue receiving my salary for four months provided I abide by all the other terms of the agreement. The other terms are basically that I won’t make any waves. As soon as I do they can stop any further severance payments, and even demand back any payments they may already have made.
          In my case the agreement also stipulates that I may not discuss the terms of the agreement or even acknowledge that a severance agreement exists without voiding same. That’s harsh! I already told a bunch of people about the three-month/four-month thing before I even read the damn thing. I haven’t even signed it yet and already I’m in violation.
          Of course I’m going to sign the agreement. I’d be a fool not to. Like Bill said, I’m smart. I’m going to help with the transition too. I need the extra month of salary. The economy is in the tank and spinning down the drain. Lehman Brothers posted the biggest quarterly loss in its history this morning. So far the Fed is refusing to bail them out.
This is could easily be the hiccup that brings the whole system down. I’ve been listening to bad economic news for a year now.


There is a mountain of sub-prime debt out there that has been securitized and resold as a seemingly sound investment—often to the very banks that made the risky loans in the first place. You’d think they would know better. The whole house of cards is guaranteed by untold trillions of dollars of credit default swap derivatives that are neither regulated nor scrutinized by any agency of government. It’s only going to take a tiny pin prick in just the right place to let the air out of the whole mess. We’ll be years recovering from the fallout.
The economy aside, I’m getting to be an old codger. I may need every bit of 4 months severance to get another job. Then again I may not. Wouldn’t it be great to get a job in a couple of weeks and be able to bank 4 months of extra salary. That would be like $32,000 of found money. That would make up for the fact that there won’t be any bonuses this year because the company has fallen way short of the budgeted earnings target. Of course I wouldn’t get one anyway would I? I’ve been fired.
          I called Bill to tell him I’ll take the 4 month deal and that I’ll be in on Tuesday (It’s Labor Day week-end) to show the new guy the ropes. Bill seemed hesitant about this. I wondered if he’s changed his mind. That’s too bad. The company made the offer in writing. I’m taking it.
Bill said maybe I shouldn’t come in too early. He’s got some things he needs to iron out before he puts me together with my replacement. I figure he wants to talk to me, to see what kind of trouble I might be thinking about making for him before he just turns me loose with the new guy. It wouldn’t be like me to make trouble if I say I’m going to help although it might be like Bill to do that, which would explain why he doesn’t trust me. That’s been my experience in business, and in life too for that matter. If someone is unreasonably mistrustful, it’s often because they themselves couldn’t be trusted in the same situation. I’ll just have to put Bill’s mind at ease on Tuesday.
          Meanwhile I uncorked my online accounts at all the internet job sights I used the last time I was looking for work. That would be when I got the job I just got fired from. Back then it had been a perfect fit. I was tailor made for that job, and it was perfect for me. They knew it too. When I interviewed Bill, I asked him how many candidates he was talking to about the position. He said that they had received hundreds of résumés, but after going through them all he was only talking to me. I knew the job was mine right then. They made me an offer a few days later. I had to talk to the CFO first, but that was just a formality. The CFO then, Clive, was a different guy than the one they have now. Clive was a sweetheart. The one they have now, Fritz…not so much. Fritz is the guy who told Bill to fire me.
          I updated my résumé and my contact information. I made everything visible to recruiters and job posters. I took a look at the job listings. It looks to me as though there are a lot of accounting jobs out there. Of course that doesn’t mean there is one for me, but at least there is hope. I’m not likely to find a job that perfect again. Hell even the perfect job I found last time didn’t stay perfect very long. I guess in retrospect I should have known it was too good to be true when I took it.

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