It was just a regular ol’ Friday afternoon with the regular ol’ small talk buzzing around the office about what everyone was doing over the weekend and how they hoped we’d get to go home early as we sometimes did on Fridays. All I could think was, “be careful what you wish for.”
Just before noon, the CEO started calling people individually up to his office for a group firing. It sounded like a freaking telethon in there, phones going off left and right. The weirdest part was, I already knew that was going to happen, and I knew I would be getting that call.
About half an hour prior, my boss had pulled me aside while I was getting my mid-morning cheese stick from the break room. He told me I was going to be included in the firings, but to just come back on Monday per usual.
You’re probably thinking similar things I was thinking at the time too.
“Why fire me if I’m coming back Monday?”
“What sketchy thing is going on that you’re not telling me?”
“Do I get a bonus for this super weird thing you’re forcing me to do?”
Alas, I had no option.
As I sat in the CEO’s office with 6 others and my dirty little secret, they had me sign a bunch of papers and go through the process like everyone else. I started wondering if I actually was safe or not. They could’ve changed their minds at any moment over the weekend and just tell me not to go in on Monday. I still had no idea why I was being fake fired (and I still don’t), so it started feeling really real.
Despite the humiliating feelings and the future months of reestablishing credibility around the office after supposedly “begging for my job back,” I did go back in the following Monday, and life went on…but it was different. I found out that my name was originally on the CEO’s fire list, but my boss told him I was too valuable to let go. Thanks boss.
Look, I understand that firing is unfortunately a necessary measure sometimes in business when a company isn’t doing well. I get it.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it must have sucked for the people who were actually let go that day, and how it almost happened to me too. Some of them had been working at the same place for 20+ years, and were only a few years away from retirement. They did everything the American system taught them to do for a safe and secure life, and it blew up in their faces. Go to college, get a job, work there until you retire, and live happily ever after with plenty in the bank. Nope, sorry.
I decided it was time to take control of my life, so I quit my job a few months later, and never looked back.
I had been attempting to start my own business for 5 years so I could do the things I love and be my own boss, but I never could quite make the jump because it just seemed too risky. After being fake fired, my perception of risk changed instantly. There’s not much that’s riskier than working for a company that demands the world from you, but can pull the rug out from under you at any moment with no explanation.
The truth is, most corporations are working against you, not with you. Not even necessarily on purpose, but because a lot of companies have to protect earnings above all else. You’re under pressure from your boss, who is under pressure from his boss, who is under pressure from hers, all they way to the mythical “top.”
A lot of companies are becoming uncomfortably comfortable hiring mediocre workers for part-time, cheap employment rather than appropriately trained full-time workers for fair wages because they want to increase profits. And you know what? They have the power and the right to do that.
What ends up happening is that with jobs being so competitive, people will often settle for jobs they dislike for horrible pay for fear they can’t support themselves and their families without it. That’s not a sign of a healthy economy, it’s a result of a poor one.
Obtaining a job that allows you to scrape by has become something to celebrate. Comfortable living is no longer an American right. The middle class as we know it will be gone very soon. Scared yet? Now is the time to position yourself to have a chance to improve the economy from the inside out while protecting your future. Start something great that allows you to live generously and purposefully.
I know employment seems like the most secure option, but it’s not always what it seems. Companies shut down, people get laid off, technology evolves and replaces humans. I could go on, but I think you get it. Remember when a tollbooth collector would take your money at the start of any toll road? Now nearly every tollbooth has been replaced by technology. There may be a few older ones left, but it’s clear they are being replaced. I see it happening all around me. As the world adapts, so must we. If you aren’t working for yourself, you have little control over your financial future.
Living in a constant state of worry is not how life was intended to be lived; that’s not security.
I implore you, if you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, start a side business now and work to grow it into something that can support you full time. I’m not saying to bust out of the office this very moment, but start taking steps toward real security if it’s something you have any itch for at all. It is possible, and it is worth it.