Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International: Chapter 10: (A serialized novel by Robert K. Stephen)

Chapter 10

Downsizing: See who your friends are

As they say in times of trouble you will notice who your real friends are. Some whom you thought were your friends quickly scatter and avoid contact with a fired employee on the premise it is bad luck. Some are gloating as they feel they are in a better position than you assuming of course they are still employed.

Real friends offer empathy, compassion and help you in your job search by referring you to possible helpful networking contacts. Sympathy is not what the downsized person wants. Sympathy is feeling sorry for the victim but empathy goes further by trying to eliminate the victim’s distress and anguish by doing something for that person.

I’ll throw you examples your way of some negative experiences I had with “friends”.

Bile Mikeman was who I thought was a “family friend”. We had visited each other’s house several times and our children played together. Bile had worked with my wife at her largecorp for several years until he got wind of his upcoming Blessed Event and jumped ship just in time.

Keeping Bile in the loop I managed to network into the office of the President of Bile’s largecorp employer. The meeting went far better than I had expected. I had the skills and the attitude the President was looking for. The President consulted with Bile. You know what that prick said about me. I did not have the soft skills needed and would not “fit in”.

Later the truth filtered out through a third-party mutual friend. Bile felt threatened by me and was afraid of the potential competition. That asshole cut off my legs before I had the chance to go through a few perfunctory “you got the job” Human Resources Department interviews. How about that for a mistaken impression of friendship! Instead of empathy his reaction to me joining his largecorp employer was self-preservation and self-interest. The Blessed Event really sped up my evaluation of our “friendship”. I hope to repay the favour one day. My vendetta list was beginning to grow. By the way Bile went in a downsizing some 4 months later. I can say I felt neither sympathy nor empathy for him.

I turned to another family “friend”, Jenny Bark, a lawyer I had worked with at CRAP. She was general counsel of a less than largecorp and required another lawyer to assist her. “Need someone more junior” was her line. “You have too much experience”. Another real friend.

Finally, there was Jim Moonrush a very senior partner with the insurance practice group at a major law firm I had referred hundreds of thousands of dollars to in legal assignments. We had got along very well over the years and been out for many lunches and sporting events together. To get me on my feet and on the basis a contract position would have made me a much more attractive employment prospect would have been appreciated. The offer of a contract never happened despite my hints.

I had a whole host of colleagues at CRAP, all from the business unit I served as legal counsel for in the Legal Department, who contacted me the next day after my Blessed Event and we all went to a few bars to bitch and complain. One or two offered leads during my unemployment but for the rest I was yesterday’s meal soon to be forgotten

Perhaps the nicest experience of all was from Tommy Bland a colleague and a person who I had become to view as a friend from the ranks of the clients I had served. As a General Counsel of a large automobile manufacturing company located in Ontario he spent two hours with me on the phone “the day of” trying to get a handle on what had just happened. Had I been willing to relocate there was a job waiting for me. Unfortunately, Tommy was turfed in a Blessed Event several months later. Ah, such is the nature of largecorp. Rather like the dark days of Stalinism or Hitler where you were here today and gone tomorrow. Not that I am making any linkage between these nasty ideologies and largecorp!

There is nothing like the Blessed Event to help you decide who your friends are. Call me petty but do unto others what they have done to you. Isn’t that one of the Ten Commandments?

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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