Day 5. 48 pages, 19,689 words.
So, the less said about Monday the better, but I did say I would vent it out. This seems really silly now and I should probably just let it go, but whatever. I have other crap to do today.
Some of you will already know that I have been an accidental and unknown part of my company’s Mumbai office’s e-mail list for about seven years now. I’ve really enjoyed reading their messages and … meh, I’ll let me tell this, the way I did last week. I finally contacted one of the big Mumbai e-mailers, to let him know that I was a) on the mailing list, b) being terminated, c) appreciative of the interesting stuff I’ve received over the past years.
The following e-mail is clearly edited for confidentiality.
You’re probably wondering who I am. Well, I am a Senior Technical Writer over in the Lionbridge office in Espoo, Finland.
Many years ago, I worked with [censored] to create a [censored] newsletter. As part of the information-gathering effort, I was placed onto a Mumbai mailing list.
I have been on the mailing list ever since.
I’ve loved being a part of your community, even though I was a silent partner. I have read your [censored] (and shared a few of them with my co-workers here in Finland), and the mails from [censored] about [censored]. I’ve learned a lot about [censored], your holy days, and everything in between. Thank you for all your efforts.
Sadly, I will not be at Lionbridge much longer. It is with a heavy heart that, after eleven years, I received my termination notice as part of [censored].
I was actually laid off on the last day of March this year, but I have a work obligation until the end of July and so I will be here for a while longer. However, it will only be [censored].
I didn’t want to leave it too late, and miss my chance to bid farewell to my Indian colleagues. I feel as if I have gotten to know you over the years, and I will miss your visits to my e-mail inbox!
I am attaching a short tale (in Word docx format) about the end of my time here at Lionbridge. I would be delighted if you were to use it as [censored] – it may not be your usual traditional variety of wisdom, but it is the truth about my own professional and personal growth. A growth which, I feel, you have been a part of.
I hope you will find it appropriate. I intend it with the greatest respect.
I’ll attach the story here too. Okay, it’s a bit sanctimonious and self-righteous, but I feel quite proud of the way I’ve conducted myself through this unpleasant end to my professional time with Lionbridge, so why not share it? I don’t think it’s accusing or implying anything bad about anyone else.
As a bit of background, the Mumbai contact I e-mailed has been sending out inspirational and thought-provoking little stories each week, so this was mine.
A man worked at a company for eleven years. When the company fell on hard times, the man – along with many of his co-workers – was laid off to cut costs.
Although it was sad and a lot of people were upset, the man understood that it wasn’t a reflection on his talents and professional conduct, but a sign of the times. And, since he had worked at the company for so long, he was given four months at full pay in order to help support his family while he looked for a new job.
When his employers asked him to go to see a new customer, and to work on a final project during his four-month entitlement, the man was reluctant. His co-workers, many of them good friends of his, told him he should not agree to the request. Companies had a legal right to make employees work after being fired, but they never actually did it – they could not expect devotion and pride in the job from a worker they’d just fired.
At first the man planned to tell his employers just this, and take a leave of absence from the remainder of his work obligations. But at the end of the day, he attended the meeting with the new customer and agreed to work on the project. He did the best job he could, and made the deliveries his employers had promised to make. All this, to build a relationship between a customer and the company that had already fired him weeks before.
His friends asked him why he’d agreed to perform such a thankless job that he could easily have evaded. “You worked hard and loyally for eleven years,” they told him. “You were a valued part of our team, and they laid you off. You don’t owe them anything.”
“That’s true,” he said, “I don’t owe them anything. But I owe myself. I didn’t want to end eleven years of my life on a sour note. There’s nobody involved in this – not my employers, not me, and not our customer – who deserves that.”
Moral: Don’t pretend to be professional if you only do it when it’s easy.
I wasn’t really expecting them to post this story. I was sort of hoping to get some sort of message back, thanking me for my note and wishing me well. This was one of the only cases of inter-office communication I’d ever taken part in, and I thought it was a really interesting bit of cultural education. We are, after all, supposed to be a communications company with a global feel.
So, how did they respond? You can probably guess.
Did you guess “they didn’t, they just cut you out of the mailing list”? Because that’s what they did. I didn’t get my Monday wisdom this week, and didn’t get so much as a see-ya from my colleagues in India.
I don’t know why, but that hit me really hard. It was like a final fuck-you, a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with this company’s spirit. What sort of a community are they building?