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Preparing To Get Fired

May 27, 2021

I remember a time when I was ten.

My mom got fired.

I did NOT get fired. I got laid off.

When you are ten, the difference is hard to understand. It’s not that much different when you are an adult. Employment is a lot like marriage.

My first real job was with WordPerfect Corporation. I took advantage of voluntary layoffs when WordPerfect was going through a tough stretch before Novell purchased them. I was leaving to go to Microsoft, the company most responsible for WordPerfect’s tough stretch. WordPerfect was not happy to let me go to Microsoft, even though there wasn’t much they could do.

It really reminded me of a divorce. I was leaving for a new partner and my current partner was NOT happy with it. Just like a real divorce, we both lawyered-up. Fortunately we stayed out of court, but it was touch-and-go for a while.

A manager escorted me to my desk to oversee me cleaning out my stuff.

Eric, you’ve known I was leaving for a week. I’ve known I was leaving for two weeks. You think if I was going to steal something I’d have waited until today to do it?

Eric was a good guy. It wasn’t his fault. I didn’t steal anything either.

From WordPerfect I went to Microsoft. I loved working for the Evil Empire. It was a chance to go home to the Puget Sound area and also it was a great place to work. After nine years I ended up in the wrong job. My manager’s manager fired me. Not “laid off.” I was straight up fired.

Again, the marriage analogy appealed to me. This time, SHE wanted a divorce. And she kept pretty much everything. I was devastated.

At that point I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with my employer. You shouldn’t marry the company you work for. You should do the best job you can for them, absolutely. And you should work for their success. But, you should not tie your personal feeling of worth to the company you work for.

I did that with both WordPerfect and Microsoft. After my breakup with MSFT, I resolved to remain celibate, as far as jobs were concerned. I approached each day at each job as if it would be my last.

Maybe to explain a little. I still had long term projects. I looked at my future with the company. I was definitely engaged. But, I kept a very clear line between “work” and “non-work.” For example, while at Microsoft, I freely used the address rbliss@microsoft.com for everything, personal or work. So, when I was fired, I was stuck with some services tied to an email account I no longer had access to.

I recently got laid off from Teleperformance after 7 years. It was definitely unexpected. I had a meeting at 2:00pm and by 2:30 I was locked out of the network. (As I should be. Not faulting them.) But, it also meant that I had no access to anything online. I still had my laptop, since I was working at home. They wanted it back, but I got to keep it for a few days.

Still, there was nothing on my laptop that I wanted. No personal files. No emails. No pictures. Nothing.

I use dropbox to keep my personal data. So, I kept none of it on the laptop and certainly none on the network. I also accessed my personal email (rbliss @ msn.com) strictly via a web page.

My web browser was set to save zero passwords, cookies or history. Yes, it meant that every time I rebooted I had to manually log into all my web pages. But, it also meant that I had no worries about someone getting my laptop and accessing any of my personal data.

Of course, I also set my own bitlocker password, but the point is, I was prepared to leave.

“For five years it went on like that; goodnight Westley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

– Dread Pirate Roberts

For seven years I was prepared. Like Westley, it was a wonderful time for me. I was learning networks, project management, whatever anyone would teach me. (Okay, some I knew before hand.) And then came the day that The Dread Pirate Roberts made good on his threat.

But, since I was prepared for it, I was able to move on quickly. So, unless you are Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, it makes no sense to marry your company. Instead, act likely Westley, learn all you can, make yourself valuable. But, also be prepared for them to kill you in the morning.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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