Bad Day in Middle Management

by Ed Ferri, Jr.

That Friday morning the owner, not my manager, rushes into my office, closes the door behind him and sits down with a serious determined look on his face. “I need you to do me a favor.” he blurts out. Shocked by his sudden and unusual visit and request, I as a company “team player”, mutter “Sure what’s up?”

“We are having a RIF today, a reduction in work force. I need you to layoff your group, all engineers and drafters, by noon. See Rosie in HR, she has their termination packets ready.”

Holy crap. I just accept this promotion to Mechanical Design Group Leader and now I get to layoff my co-workers? Holy crap. Holy crap. HOLY CRAP!

Then, as my brain begins to gel into an anvil, he continues. “At 1:00 o’clock sharp this afternoon we’re having a management meeting in the main conference room.”

“Really?” I think to myself. “Is that when you plan to unveil your new vision and give us a company pep talk? And then try to make us survivors of this sudden RIF feel optimistic about the future of your company… and our employment?”

And if that’s not enough for me to suddenly swallow, he then adds, “And also, starting Monday, I need you to start using up your vacation days.” Whoa… sounds like I might not be a survivor of today’s RIF after my vacation days run out. He then leaves my office in the same manner he came in, sudden and brisk leaving the door open as it was.

Like a zapped zombie, I drag my now stunned anvil head toward HR, but take a slight detour to my manager’s office open door. I peer into the empty fog of his now stripped office. His desk top is cleared off. His framed family and motorcycle racing trophy photos are gone, the rest scattered across the floor. The office walls are bare of his proud awards and patent plaques, only the hanger hooks remain. I guess the owner had dropped him first, delivering his RIF message personally right between the shoulder blades before asking me his favor to do the worst.

Later that afternoon, during the thick gloom of that 1:00 o’clock sharp meeting as the owner displayed his leaner and meaner organizational chart where everyone now reports directly to him without any middle management, I thought of my missing “Riffed” manager… it was then that I realized how much I envied him. The next morning, early Saturday, I returned to work and quietly clear out my office. I leave my company keys on the cleared clean desk top. Rosie can mail me my packet and my remaining vacation pay on Monday.