Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 6 - Then a Funny Thing Happened

          I went to the office about 10:00 this morning. I went right to Bill’s office. I’d decided to put his mind at ease.
          “I just wanted you to know,” I said, “That even though I disagree with you about the events leading up to my dismissal, I’m going to be an adult about it.”
          He looked at me kind of funny, almost like he didn’t know what I was talking about. I had to wonder what was really on his mind if he wasn’t worried about me doing something vindictive.
          “Did you sign the agreement?” he asked. “I know you’ve got 7 days, but corporate wants it back as soon as possible.”
          Honestly I don’t know what they’re afraid of. Sometimes the executive team goes off on a jag, and you can’t rein them in with logic. You just have to give them what they want. I told Bill I hadn’t signed it yet because I wanted to make a change to it. This got his interest. I guess nobody ever tried to negotiate better severance terms with him before. I told him I wanted them to pay my medical insurance for the duration of the severance.
          “The COBRA premium is over $800 a month,” I said. “That’s a big nut for me to handle. I’m a 60 year old cancer survivor with high blood pressure and kidney stones. I don’t want to let losing my job become a death sentence because I have to drop my medical coverage.”
          “I’ll talk to Threasher and see what we can do,” he said.
          I’m thinking if they’re so anxious to get the agreement signed, maybe they’ll cave on this point as an inducement. We’ll see.
          I headed to my office—not mine anymore; I’ll have to remember that. I didn’t see any evidence of my replacement. The office looked exactly as it did when I left it on Thursday. I went next door to the assistant controller’s office. I decided to wait there until the new guy showed up. I didn’t want to seem like I was going to be difficult to dislodge when he got there.
          Helen, the assistant controller, wanted to know how I was holding up. I told her I was doing pretty well under the circumstances, that it felt good to be free, but I was anxious to get on with showing the new controller the ropes.
          “Didn’t you hear?” she said. “He’s not coming.”
          I was stunned by this bit of news. You’d think that Bill would have thought that this was an important thing to share with me. I guess it explains his strange expressions and his seeming worry about how I might gum up the transition. There wasn’t going to be a transition. Seems the guy they hired to replace me called on Thursday afternoon—just a couple of hours after I left the office with the manila folder—to say that he had decided not to accept the company’s offer after all.
          I went back to the office that was apparently still mine for a while, and sat down in the still-my-chair. I felt the beginnings of an uncomfortably big grin spreading across face. What the hell. I called my wife to share the news with her. This was too cool, too funny, to sit on. Still I didn’t know what to make of it. I guess Bill didn’t either. He seemed pretty adamant on Thursday about throwing me out on the street. Now he’s got to regroup, and he can’t do it alone. He’s got to wait for Fritz and Threasher in Kentucky to regroup first and tell him what to do.
          One thing seemed pretty clear to me. Someone needs to be working on closing the books for the month just ended. The only person on the planet who knows everything about how to do that is me. So someone—probably Bill—is going to have to kiss my ass just a little bit to make sure that I don’t suddenly decide that I like the three month severance option better after all, and so won’t be helping with the transition as I had originally indicated. I suddenly found the job that I used to loathe immensely entertaining. I kind of wish that I still had it. Oh wait…I do!
          Ron Simpson called in the afternoon. Ron is the corporate controller in Kentucky. He consolidates the financials from all the divisions into one master set of statements for the whole company. He is Fritz’s right hand man. There was a period of time about six months ago when it seemed to me like Ron Simpson was not going to be the CFO’s right hand man. Instead another Ron, a new hire by the CFO was going to assume that role. The other Ron didn’t last though. He sold his house in Boston, bought a new house in Omaha and started work in an office down the hall from mine as the corporate accounting manager. Six months later Fritz decided to let him go. He told him they had decided to go a different direction, whatever that was supposed to mean. It’s possible that Fritz, like Bill, is a jerk as well.
          I wonder if Ron Simpson had anything to do with Fritz’s change of direction. I wonder this because before the change of direction, Simpson who was part of the old regime—the regime of Clive the sweetheart—was going to have to step down from his position as corporate controller to become controller of one of the other divisions. After New Ron’s untimely and surprise demise Simpson’s star was once again on the rise. I Don’t know of course—like much of what I think it’s just idle conjecture. Still…
          Anyway what Simpson wanted to know was how was I doing on the month-end closing. I was happy to tell him that since, technically, I Didn’t work there anymore I was waiting for the new controller, my replacement, to show up so I could assist in the transition as I had agreed.
          “He’s not coming,” Ron said.
          “Who’s not coming?” I asked.
          “The new controller. Don’t you already know this?”
          “I spoke to Bill this morning, and he didn’t say anything about it,” I said.
          “Well he’s not taking the job,” Simpson said. “He called early Thursday afternoon to say that he was taking another job. Fritz was in a board meeting so we had to send a note in to tell him.”
          “Two hours after I left?” I said. “I’ll bet Fritz was fit to be tied.”
          “You might say that,” Ron said. “He texted the guy during the meeting to tell him how disappointed he was and how unprofessional he thought it was, considering that the guy had accepted the offer in writing.”
          “Fritz sent a text during the board meeting to tell the guy he thought he was unprofessional?”
          “That’s what he told me.”
          “How would Fritz even know?”
          “Know what?”
          “What’s unprofessional.”
          This may be the most fun I ever had at work. Oh wait…I’m not at work. I keep forgetting.

2 comments:

  1. I can't imagine how ti feels to be in your position. Being in my late 20s even I worry about losing my job. I walk around the office wondering who knows what and what may happen. It's tough. Best of luck as you move forward. I'm sure you've gotten every pep talk in the book but what's one more? Whatever lays ahead of you, attack it full on. Don't spend any time feeling sorry for yourself. You're way to good for that nonsense. Chhers.

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I thought blogging about my experiences might be useful somehow to others with so many people out of work and/or finding it difficult to get meaningful work through no fault of their own. Hopefully it will be therapeutic for me as well.

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