Translation Guy Blog
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.