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Meet the Stranger

By elenchos in MLP
Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 01:10:29 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

One of my favorite publications, Seattle's The Stranger has a story about a dot com employee who was fired in a truly no class way: without being told. No, there's more: follow the Scab Watch links for catty reporting on Seattle's newspaper strike, and head for the front page for the complete What the Drugs Did Taught Me saga. And read Police Beat and Last Days, because you need to.


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Meet the Stranger | 24 comments (8 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
By a strange double coincidence (3.00 / 3) (#3)
by Demona on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 01:34:31 AM EST

My wife got canned just this morning without warning. At least they didn't have the cops escort her away, as seems SOP so many places now.

The other coincidence, and a more enjoyable one, is that one of my favorite raving liberals, Dan Savage, has a syndicated column which runs in The Stranger.

Nothing new (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by loner on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 02:01:06 PM EST

Those of us who've been contracting in the industry for any substantial length of time have been subject to similar treatments, or at least seen/heard of similar stories. Even captives^H^H^H^H^Hsalaried employees in IT have never been immune to such treatment.

What Kendrick just found out is that working as a salaried employee for a dot-com or a tech start-up is no different than working as a contractor: you're exposed to being fired at anytime, by any number of creative ways, with or without notice. Goes with the territory, and yes that is the way it should be, if you don't like it get a job at a larger company with a good reputation in the fields of employee-management, and even then watch your butt. Don't like that either? Start your own company and get screwed over and over again by your customers.

What the article doesn't point out: When things like this happen, instead of running around crying "mommy mommy I've been fired" one should chalk it up to experience and move on. After all business is business, and working for a dot-com or a tech startup is nothing more than business.

Obligatory anecdote: at the end of a contracting gig at Adobe I gave my manager two-weeks notice that I was quiting the contract. I explained to the manager that I'd rather work for only one more week but will do two ifhe wants. He asked me stay for the entire two weeks and work the weekend too. At the end of the first week and without warning, he barred me from Adobe and told everybody that I had not quit but I'd been fired.

Crying to whom? (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by elenchos on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 03:47:30 PM EST

I don't think it was the article's purpose to tell readers what they should do, but rather to try to let the facts speak for themselves. Not a "pure" piece of news journalism by any standard, but not an editorial either.

And the fired employee was not running around crying "mommy!" according to the article. She went crying "The Stranger! The Stranger!" Her bosses acted like no-class, irresponsible heels, and for that they are the being made the subject of public derision and shame. It appears that too many companies who style themselves part of the "new economy" care just as little for Luddite anachronisms like "common decency" as they do about fossilized old bugaboos like "profitability."

Hopefully, this publicity will drive away both customers and talented workers, and other companies will realize that it is unwise to act like a jerk, even if the law says you can.

[ Parent ]

Granted... (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by loner on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 04:25:17 PM EST

It is good to hear about such companies and spread the word around, same as in contractors circles we tell each other of bad clients and agents. But if this story intends to do that, it's going about it the wrong way. To spread the word, one must state the facts and let the reader make their own conclusions, not mix it in with one's own opinions and moments of glory.

Is this story trying to say Network Commerce fired Kendrick the wrong way? Then what's this about "My first boss quit due to health problems, because he was way too stressed out--he couldn't deal. [Kendrick had three different bosses in six months.]" This has nothing to do with the firing style, it just make the story sound like an embittered ex-employee's rantings more than someone who's trying to warn off others. And if a manager quits suddenly, it is more than likely that there would be an interim manager while a new one is being found, so in such a case three bosses in six months is quite ordinary.

And what's all this about "And I said out loud in front of everybody, 'Oh, are you finally going to tell me I'm fired, or what?'" More embittered ex-employee stuff that doesn't help the story or the ex-employee. At this point Kendrick looks like she lacks common decency just as much as her former employer. When you're fired, it's best to stay away (except perhaps to sneak in and get your personal belongings ^_^), going back and making a scene doesn't help anyone.

If you want to warn others of a bad employer or client, just state the facts, don't pollute it with your stories about how crappy the whole place was to begin with. That'll make you look like you're crying "mommy".

[ Parent ]

Follow the chronology! (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by elenchos on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 04:47:40 PM EST

The reporter was gathering background material, asking "Tell us a little bit about what it's like to work at a dot-com these days." Her answer about her bosses was a good answer to that question; it helped paint a picture of what the company was like.

She didn't "go back" after she had been fired. She hadn't been fired at all, that's whole the point. They just locked her out and didn't call, write or bother to so much as give her the finger from a passing car. She made a scene only when the amateurs she was working for were forced to notice that she hadn't just wandered away or something.

Hiring and firing people is not a job for dilettantes, and these random wanna-be big-shots don't deserve to be running their own company. They belong in cubicles punching a clock for a boss that watches their every move lest they fuck up yet again.

[ Parent ]

Making a scene == amateur (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by loner on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 05:27:47 PM EST

She made a scene only when the amateurs she was working for were forced to notice that she hadn't just wandered away or something.
There is really no justification for making a scene, but we're all human and many of us do make scenes at some point or another. BUT, going around and telling everybody how one made a scene is NOT a productive way to spread the word about bad companies.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Network Commerce in any way. It looks like they're not very nice people, but I'll hold my judgement until I see more sober articles about them. The one presented here stinks too much of the rantings of a disgruntled ex-employee who just realised that the world of hi-tech is not all rosy.

[ Parent ]

OK. (none / 0) (#15)
by elenchos on Sat Jan 06, 2001 at 06:35:17 PM EST

I do think, however, that the ones doing the firing should be held to a higher standard of professionalism than the one getting fired. Even in IT, getting fired is a tough blow to take, and as you implied, we should be forgiving towards someone who doesn't react perfectly when they get hit. The one delivering the news, however, has time to prepare, can seek advice from others, and is not the one who will go home unemployed that day.

As far as spreading the story around, if she had kept her own behavior a secret but only told what they did, she could be accused of being self-serving and one-sided in her tale. After having endured a weekend of progressivly worse clues that she had been fired, with no clear statement, like some kind of sick game, I have a hard time holding the little outburst against her.

I don't think this is an issue where the high tech world should be held to a different standard than other industries. You would think, on the contrary, that companies that can be as extravagent with cash as dot coms are (or were), they could afford the costs of being civil and human towards their own people. When they complain about how hard it is to find talented workers, it is a little like an anti-social geek who complains that he can't find a girlfriend. Both should stop acting like animals and think about others for a change. A little common decency can work wonders for you image.

[ Parent ]

And not just "dotcoms". (none / 0) (#23)
by ucblockhead on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:36:12 AM EST

It isn't just the new dotcoms that do this sort of thing. I've seen no end of crappy behavior like this in my career, from a secretary fired on secretary's day to a guy that wandered around an office for hours asking why he couldn't log in any more. Both of those were in "older" technology firms.

And then there's one that happened to me as contractor. I was called, mid-project, and told that I wasn't needed anymore. A few weeks later, I get a legal looking document saying that I was responsible for fixing all bugs in that software, free of charge. As you can imagine, I told them where to stick that in no uncertain terms.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Meet the Stranger | 24 comments (8 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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