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February 25, 2009

Today I was at the Duane Reade, picking up a prescription.  The Southeast Asian pharmacist argued painfully with a woman trying to pick up her medicine.  Over and over they went, the girl had bought and purchased one month’s worth, but the computer showed that the pharmacy in Greenpoint had recorded her as picking up three months.  Could the pharmacist do anything? No.  She would have to go to Greenpoint.  This was the girl’s last day of insurance.

Suddenly, a girl ran up right next to me at the counter, ignoring me.  “I need a syringe!” she almost yelled.  She could definitely have been a junkie, but at the same time she was pretty and white and very thing with long blonde hair.  A Hollywood junkie, the kind that learns a lesson and is saved at the end of the movie.

Today, I spoke with my friend Elaine.  She’s had the same unfortunate experience I recently had; she had valiantly set up the entire office of a startup, from furnishings to contracts to everything.  Then her boss realized that the hard work was done and they could easily make do with a receptionist.  So, she was called in and kindly and respectfully laid off.  No, I kid.  She was told her performance was terrible and summarily fired.

We got to talking about what its like to be the manager in that situation.  She thought they felt terrible.  How does that conversation go?

Boss: “You have to fire this person.”

Manager: “You mean let them go?”

Boss: “No, make up something about their performance and fire them.”

Manager: “Uhhh.  What if they cry?”

Boss: “We don’t care about that.”

Manager: “Ok!”

How do you get to be that person?  How bad is that?  It’s less bad than beating a child.  Its worse than stealing money from someones wallet.  It’s less bad than executives taking bonuses after laying off employees.  Its worse than just regular lying.

Too bad for me that I live for the moment when my ethical and moral standards are tested, and then I can proudly leap upon my sword to save others.  Damn my freedom fighting genes.  This is probably why I’ll never be promoted to manager, while Elaine and my former bosses have a long, secure future as hatchet men.

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