Those who know me well know I'm nothing if not trendy. No one keeps a firmer grip on the zeitgeist than do I. You can imagine my excitement, then, when Sony Worldwide Networks, for whom I'd spent some seventeen months toiling as a Web developer, made me an active participant in the nation's latest craze, Corporate Downsizing. Since I adhere strictly to a one-fad-at-a-time policy, this thoughtful gesture saved me the ignominy of signing up for Macarena lessons.
The truth is, I probably should never have given the ghouls in Sony's Human Resources department the opportunity to cut me loose. It's not as if there weren't signs that something wasn't right. My department, once a thriving one with six fulltime employees and two interns, had slowly dwindled down to just two of us. My colleagues had somehow seen the writing on the wall and made their escapes. Why had I remained?
I've come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people: those who cut bait and those who keep fishing. These two schools are perhaps mostly clearly delineated in the arena of romance.
As one who has experienced both lay-offs and break-ups, I feel qualified to contrast and compare the two experiences. I'm of the opinion that those who would move to greener romantic pastures have plenty to learn from their pin-striped corporate brothers and sisters.
Take, for instance, the moment of truth: the parting of ways. It is common practice, in the business world, to have some unfamiliar face, a complete and total stranger, present when an employee learns he or she is being let go. An excellent strategy, this, one that dissatisfied lovers everywhere should adopt, for the presence of this stranger lowers exponentially the chances that the spurned party will openly weep. I know that, had my most recent ex made it a point to have her mother, say, or Stanislaus, the super in her building, present when she revealed her deeply felt aversion to ever seeing me again, I very likely would have made it through her door and out of her building under my own power. I still shudder when I recall the scene...me, in a heap on her floor, holding on for dear life to the leg of her sofa until she pried my fingers lose, picked me up, threw me over her shoulder and carried me to the curb, where I laid sobbing for an hour and a half, all the while calling out for Petey, the stuffed bear I lost in kindergarten.
Severance pay and the extension of benefits are corporate practices that, with a little adapting, could also serve those cruelly thrust into the dark night of solitude that is the single life. If one could turn, in a pinch, to one's recent significant other for the same comforts he or she recently supplied so willingly, it might make for a easier transition.
Perhaps federal legislation should be drafted that requires the jilter to offer the jilted extended romantic benefits, like the COBRA plan that extends medical insurance for the newly unemployed. Sure, it would come at a dear price (there'd be no more dutch treat) but if one were willing to spring for dinner or perhaps an evening at the movies, with popcorn, Twizzlers and a large soft drink thrown in, one could enjoy the delight of hearing one's former partner again laughing at one's jokes, the calm of once again being reassured that there's nothing odd about owning fourteen pairs of underwear with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on them. If one were able to swing a higher premium, one could even take advantage of the full benefits plan, which would include conjugal visits. However, like an HMO physician forced to treat a nosebleed even as his tee time approaches, it's not likely the provider's heart would really be in the providing of this particular benefit. One might be better advised to simply settle for an evening's dinner companionship.
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