Translator Termination

by Translation Guy on May 5, 2010

Firing people is not fun, but it’s even less fun getting fired.

I think at this point in my career, I’ve fired more people more often than I’ve been fired myself, which I guess is an accomplishment in a way, in that at least I’ve gotten a job where it would be difficult to let myself go, although I’ve certainly deserved it.

Thus, my interest in this post-termination notice from one of my competitors, Pacific Interpreters.

“As you know, you were separated from employment from Pacific Interpreters on March 31, 2010, for reasons relating to general fit and suitability to the job.

“This letter is to provide you with notice about actions which would have been taken but for the fact that you were already in the process of being separated from employment, and it is this: as you were meeting with Operations Director [….], you reached into the pocket of your trousers and removed a knife that was approximately four inches in length, which you proceeded to use as a letter opener. Pacific Interpreters strictly prohibits bringing weapons into the workplace….

“Because of the Company’s commitment to ensuring a safe environment for its employees, your possession of a weapon of this type in the workplace would have been grounds for immediate termination…. You knew, or should have known, you should not have brought a knife into the office, and that in so doing, you were placing your employment status at risk.”

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see just how big that knife was, or what the demeanor of the now ex-employee was. I’m sure it must have been an alarming experience for the translator terminator tasked with cutting the knife wielder loose. But there’s more. Here’s the response from the knife wielder to his post termination:

“In response to your letter dated April 15, 2010…

“This afternoon, I made the most delicious egg salad sandwich for lunch.

“I had some cayenne pepper, salt, freshly-ground pepper, a lot of dijon mustard and ― of course ― mayonnaise. I prepared the sandwich by thinly slicing some cheddar cheese and then toasting the entire thing like any good southern cook in a pan with butter.

“It was one of the best sandwiches I have had in quite some time.

“This letter is to inform you that had I not already been in the process of preparing an egg salad sandwich, I would totally have made pad kee mao… [recipe follows]”

In a wacky way the knife wielding makes kind of perverse sense…disgruntled, powerless employee making an intimidating display.  The response of the company is a bit harder for me to fathom. If you’ve got some guy you think is going postal, why send him a letter telling him that if he wasn’t already fired you would have fired him again? Is it a play to beat unemployment insurance? Which raises the question, if someone behaves inappropriately during termination, can you nail them for behavior that would make them ineligible for benefits? That’s one for the lawyers I guess.

It’s a credit to our profession how articulate and carefully written both letters are. And it’s the kind of wackiness that I love about this business. To the guy who got canned, PM me. No, I am not going to offer you a job. But tell me your side of the story and, if I can validate it, I’ll post it up here. Other translation industry termination stories welcome, but please respect privacy of participants, so I don’t have to pull them down or redact them.


  1. A Lawyer says:

    Good question Ken. As a lawyer I can confidently say that an individual that acts inappropriately during termination is still eligible for benefits, regardless.

  2. Cameron says:

    Pacific Interpreters seems like a bunch of dicks..

  3. Kaitlyn says:

    LOL, that’s a great response letter – I hope that they were severly shocked

  4. Evelyn22 says:

    That would definately make me re-hire the employee, what wit!

  5. Hunter says:

    A weapon is a weapon and he should have been fire (proper grounds), but the process is seriously lacking over at our friendly PI translation company.

  6. Austin says:

    I think Pacific Interpreters should have fired their HR person…

  7. Layla says:

    Yep, weak human resources department. Then agin, they are a small company, they probably don’t have an HR department…it’s probably that goof [redacted] writing these letters

    • Ken says:

      Layla, I redacted the the name of the person you identified as a goof, even though its a bit unfair that whomever posted that exchange was able to remain anonymous while his protagonists are named in the corresponsence. But your point about weak HR and small companies is so true. From my own experience I know that bad HR begins with bad hires, and goes downhill from there.

  8. Adrian says:

    No they have a HR department: someone should email them and ask about the letter!

  9. Madeline says:

    Was a past employee for PI. All I can say is that they suck, they pay by the minute so maybe you’ll make $5 for the whole day of waiting. There are just a few real interpreting calls, mostly medical, very short, one or two minutes, but lots of calls from schedulers asking if you are wish to remain loggon on. Please don’t bother working for them, find a real job with real income.

  10. Connor says:

    Better yet, call them up!
    Human Resources: (877) 272-2434, 1 (877) 2PACIFIC
    Fax: (503) 445-5501

  11. Kimberly says:

    LOL, love it!

  12. Owen Winston says:

    Just called and ‘Mary’ says that she has no recollection of the event…lame

  13. Trainer says:

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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