A few years ago, one of my coworkers told me once about how her daughter was dismissed from her employer on a cold winter day. We were shocked to discover that she was let go in the most degrading manner that an employer could do to their employees. With no prior notice, she was sent home in a whim after “the chat”. She was not allowed to go back to her desk to pack up her personal stuff. Apparently, the office desk is considered as the company’s property. The employee has no claim to retrieve their belongings unless with permission from the employer. Her computer password was locked immediately.


Nowadays, the method has sadly become a common practice for some big companies. One of our acquaintances, Keith, was recently let go from his job. His case was way worse than the one I heard before. (The characters’ names were changed to protect all the people I know.)




Keith worked for a big company as an engineer for more than 20 years. He was a foreman in charge of a large production line. His job paid well but now the whole industry has been under a lot of pressure during the economy downturn. For the last two years, his company has been going through a lot of restructuring. Many of his co-workers were either stressed out with a nervous breakdown or simply retired early whenever they could. 


One Monday morning, Keith came to work early as usual. The plant started at 6:30 and by 9:00, the whole place was hopping. He was running around to “put our fire” as usual and to make sure the production line would move smoothly. Around ten o’clock, he got a phone call from the plant manager. The conversation went on for a while. In fact, most of the time, Keith just listened silently. By the time the phone call almost ended, a security guard already stepped closely behind him along with a nurse from the medical unit.


Keith was dismissed just like that! He was not allowed to go back to his desk to clean up his personal belongings. The security guard walked him straight out to the gate. He waited at the security booth with the guard and the nurse. The nurse was sent there just to make sure that the sudden dismissal would not trigger any heart condition. It happened before and Keith was not the first one to receive this type of dismissal treatment from the big company. He had seen it for so many times. When the security guard and the nurse showed up behind him, he didn’t really make a big fuss. He knew it was his time to leave.


Keith had to walk all the way through the plant to reach the gate with the security guard and the nurse tagging behind him. That was the longest walk anyone could have taken, parading through the plant. He sat there at the gate silently for a couple of hours, dumbfounded. He could not get back to his desk. The company did not want to jeopardize the risk of being sabotaged by any disgruntled newly dismissed employees. One of his fellow foremen went back to clean up his desk and picked up his jacket and car key for him. All the years of hard work was stuffed tightly in a tiny little banker’s box. No tearful farewell. No joyful hugs from co-workers. He was just another number added to the new victim list of the latest recession.




I met Keith last week at a grocery store with his wife. He actually looked very well without the burden of pressure from work. However, he lost a lot of weight! I asked him what he has been up to lately. The smile he forcefully formed had a tinge of sadness to it when he replied “I am retired now…. I don’t have to worry about money though.” I guess he was obviously doing all right. At the age of mid 50’s, he is too old to find another similar job but too young to retire.


Keith’s dismissal reminded me of my co-worker’s daughter who was not allowed to go back to her desk to get her purse and pick up her coat on a cold winter day. Many companies are using the same strategy to dismiss their employees. My question is, if the corporations demand respect from their employees, why wouldn’t they at least show the workers some dignity?



創作者 Julia1492 的頭像

My Corner for Education

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  • uma0720
  • The emplorers is bad.Why didn't allow they to bring out personal things?
  • The desk technically is the property of the company. So, you have to have permission to access their property once you are no longer employed by them. Some companies either escort the employee to retrieve their belongings or have someone else to clean out the desk for the dismissed employee. Either way, it is not a pleasant arrangement for people who were just let go.

    Julia1492 於 2009/05/12 05:01 回覆