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Jewish World Review April 6, 2001 / 13 Nissan, 5761

Dale McFeatters

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Consumer Reports

Signs that an involuntary career change is nigh -- THE sniper-eyed trend-watchers at The Wall Street Journal put out an advice column called "Managing Your Career" and a recent topic was how to tell if yours was about to come to a premature end.

A generation of managers has grown up with no experience of layoffs, and the grizzled hands at the Journal helpfully listed signs that one was imminent: You're not invited to key meetings but your subordinates are. There's a strange car in your company parking place. You are the only executive who doesn't get a holiday fruit basket. Management takes an unhealthy interest in precisely what it is you do all day.

The Journal list was fine as far as it went, but it didn't go far enough. There are other signs many dot-commers might miss that an involuntary career change is in the offing.

Your boss asks if you wouldn't mind taking part of your salary in stamps, office supplies, coupons and surplus inventory: "You'll see. It will make a great lawn decoration. Steam-driven computers were just an idea ahead of their time."

Your new company car is a 1972 Pinto hatchback with a leaking gas tank. "But it's a funky cultural icon," your boss explains. "It will do wonders for your image. And, thanks, no, it's a nice day so I think I'll walk the seven miles back to the office."

A new computer system is installed and your log-on is changed to "byebyein01."

You know you've seen your new subordinate somewhere before. Turns out he's Pauly Walnuts from "The Sopranos." He keeps bugging you to go for a ride on "my friend Tony's boat."

A new computer system is installed and you get an Underwood. Your boss suggests that you're an ingrate after all the trouble the company went through to track down ribbons and white-out. "It was good enough for Ernest Hemingway."

Your new company business cards have a fill-in-the-blank in place of your name.

All conversation stops when you walk through the company cafeteria. When your back is turned you hear snickering whispers that sound suspiciously like "condemned man" and "last meal." You wonder why the server gave you an extra helping of meat loaf. The dining-room manager insists you'll be more comfortable eating off a TV tray in the hall.

Because of cutbacks in office space, the boss asks if you wouldn't mind doubling up with the company day-care center.

At a meeting, you're informed that you've been put in charge of developing "exciting new overseas business opportunities." As you return to pick up a forgotten briefcase, you overhear the company president say, "Send his to Somalia, Yemen, Colombia or one of those places where they're always kidnapping executives."

An interior decorator comes to measure your office and says, "Oh, sorry. I didn't know you'd still be here."

At the company's annual golf outing, you find yourself all alone at a Pitch 'n' Putt. You're sure you read the invitation correctly.

At lunch with a client, the waiter returns to explain that you've exceeded the $50 youth credit limit on your company's new Albanian Express card.

The boss asks, "What about that round-the-world sailing trip you've always dreamed of?" You explain that you get deathly seasick. "Then, how about that little place way out in the country, with the cows, the horses for the kids, the chickens?" You explain that you're terrified of farm animals. "Well, you better start dreaming of something," he says cryptically.

You show up at work to find that the company has moved overnight. In its place is a Domino's Pizza delivery. The manager says, "You're late."

Comment on Dale McFeatters' column by clicking here.


03/30/01: Democrats hope for lightning
03/28/01: The fiscal fortune tellers
03/23/01: Bush's free lunch, or: Why Dubya worries about Japan's economy
03/21/01: Congress' growing nuisance
03/16/01: A new kind of layoff for the New Economy
03/09/01: Another snow job in the nation's capital
03/02/01: Bush either brave or naive
02/23/01: Long hours=great presidency? What our 'dim-bulb' of a president knows
02/16/01: Just what the spin-doctor ordered? Bush can't even get ridiculed on TV
02/09/01: A heartbeat from presidency, and both feet in obscurity
02/02/01: AlGore is continuing his fall from grace
01/26/01: "Fifteen Minutes in December"

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