Last Friday at work, we got an email that stated, Effective immediately, Clark* is no longer a TobacCo employee.
That just served to reinforce the notion that no good ever comes from an announcement that begins with the words “Effective Immediately.” Bad news always follows. Effective immediately, your cable bill is increasing by $7/month. Effective immediately, alcohol is no longer allowed on the premises. Effective immediately, you must separate cardboard from plastics and metals in your recycling bins. And so forth and so on. “Effective Immediately” is the ultimate fun suck. You never hear something like, Effective immediately, you can eat all the chocolate cake you want because it turns out sugar is the key to a long life.
Sure as shit, this particular “Effective Immediately” stung. Clark (the asterisk because that’s not his real name, and I swear that his real name doesn’t begin with a “C” and contain five letters because that would just be lazy) was one of the few people I’d bonded with at my new job so far, and “Effective Immediately” implies he did something wrong.
I might argue otherwise if Clark hadn’t participated in our weekly marketing meeting less than 30 minutes before that email was sent. Everything seemed normal then. He talked about his accomplishments for the week and his goals for the following. He planned a meeting with a member of the marketing team. For Clark, it appeared to be business as usual.
You don’t act that way if you’re planning on quitting in half an hour.
And really, I wouldn’t argue otherwise regardless, because I’ve been in Corporate America long enough to know full well that “Effective Immediately” is code for “got axed.” When people leave a job willingly, as I did three months ago, there’s an announcement from your supervisor or HR. The tone is friendly, encouraging. Reasons are proffered (“Mark decided to pursue an opportunity with a marketing firm in Wisconsin”), an end date is provided (“his last day will be August 27”), platitudes are doled out (“Mark was the best goddamn writer we have ever seen and filling his shoes will be well-nigh impossible, but we’ll soldier on regardless because, what choice do we have?”). They thank you for your contributions and wish you well in your new role. It’s all very cordial and transparent.
Those “Effective Immediately” emails are the complete opposite; maddeningly vague and impersonal, and immediate fodder for the office gossip mill. Effective immediately, Clark is no longer with the company. We are currently recruiting to fill the position. If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.
HELL YEAH, there are questions! But really, only one: What did Clark do to get the boot? I’m nosy as hell and dying to know! Mysteries like that are as infuriating as obituaries that never tell you how the person died. I don’t read them because I’m looking for a cliffhanger; I want to know if Mary got hit by a bus or Tom was vaporized in a chemical explosion. Heart attack, stroke, cancer? Pick a card, any card. Just don’t hold it so close to your chest. It’s pure curiosity…which, as we all know, is what killed the cat. No mystery there. Let’s not be so hush-hush concerning humans who have kicked the bucket!
I think back to our friendly conversations and can’t imagine Clark doing anything to warrant immediate dismissal, but clearly, he did something. I was working from home that day, so I never got to see if he was escorted out the door carrying a box filled with his belongings — the universal fate of the effective immediately-d.
Ahh, well. I’m not there for friendships. I just want to put my nose to the grindstone and churn out content so I don’t end up effective immediately-d myself someday. I’ve been laid off a couple of times in my career, but that was always effective in two weeks. Gave me time to wrap up my work, say my goodbyes, rig the forklift to fail the next time a heavy pallet arrived. You know, the usual pre-departure prep work.
Speaking of work, Tara started a job, left a job, and started a new job in what has to be record time. And no, she wasn’t effective immediately-d. As you might recall, she landed a position at a bank on the recommendation of my new boss, who is apparently quite the southern Wisconsin mover and shaker. She’s been in the banking biz for 10 years, but has hated the banking biz for approximately 9 years and 11 months.
Give or take four weeks.
So, when she heard a radio ad (of all things!) for a statewide nonprofit organization with an office less than a mile from our front door, she jumped. Applied for the position, got a phone interview, then a Zoom interview, then a job offer. All in just a few days. And so, on her 14th day at the bank, she handed in her resignation. Offered to stay on two weeks, but because she was still technically in training, they said she didn’t have to. They were gracious and understanding over the whole thing. And two days later, she started that new job.
Color me impressed! I know how difficult it can be to land an interview, let alone get a job. And while she took a pay cut, you can’t put a price on happiness, you know? Our finances won’t take too much of a hit and we are still in good shape to get into a new house. That won’t be effective immediately, but hopefully by next spring.
Proof that years’ worth of pent-up stress have suddenly evaporated? She doesn’t even hate the fact that she has to work the day after Thanksgiving.
She hates the fact that I don’t have to work the day after Thanksgiving, though. Whatevs, babe! I consider that a well-earned holiday after she’s enjoyed having Veterans Day, Native American Day, Juneteenth, MLK Jr. Day, Presidents Day, National Walking Taco Day, and a whole slew of others off that I’ve been stuck working. I don’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt that I get to sleep in as long as I want and lounge around in comfy clothes all day while she’s toiling away.
Effective immediately, I’m going to gloat about it, in fact.