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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Didn't Their Mothers Teach Them Anything?

These are strange times in business. OK, these are strange times in life outside business, too. But I am particularly interested in the ethics and the basic courtesy that seem to be disappearing in the workplace: endless personal phone calls while clients stand waiting to be served; blatant abuse of sick days; monitoring employees’ personal emails; firing employees by email.

Didn’t their mothers teach them anything?

As a long-time business executive, I have witnessed all of the above and so much more taking place on a daily basis and I shake my head and wonder, “When did this sort of rude and, occasionally, downright unethical behavior get to be normal business practice?”

Last Friday, a friend of mine was fired. She has spent this weekend in tears. I feel terrible for her, but I recognize that people are losing their jobs every day. My problem is the manner in which she was fired: She didn't do anything wrong, she was merely the victim of the current economy. Last hired - first fired. I live in a state where employees are "at will," which means that they can be outsted with no notice and for no reason whatsoever. And there’s the rub.

My friend had no advance warning. They waited until the end of the business day on Friday and then called her into the office, confiscated her keys and escorted her out the door. Over the weekend, she discovered that they had made the decision to cut staff (primarily her) several weeks ago, but kept it to themselves. With a two-week warning, she could have started looking for a new job. She could have avoided buying that terrific but expensive new outfit, canceled her hair bleach (a blessing in disguise because, let's face it - it makes her look cheap) skipped the recent weekend Vegas getaway (he's only using her), and started tightening her belt. But instead she was blind-sided, shocked, humiliated. She was later told that this is just “standard business practice.”

When did this kind of callous, unconscionable behavior become standard business practice? Am I the only person shocked by these policies?

I am a virgin….well, OK, technically I have been married several times. But I am a virgin blogger who would like to discuss these strange times in life and business. I am hoping that others will share with me their adventures in the trauma unit that has become modern business and, with any luck, we will try to impart a few survival skills for coping in what is becoming an increasingly strange working environment.

And, along the way, maybe we can figure out the answer to the question: “Didn’t their mothers teach them ANYTHING?”


  1. It would be nice to have some kind of advance warning - specially in this economical times. Businesses really need to think about the good employee side and have a little bit of a heart these days. Who knows they could be next!!

  2. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is getting more common as impersonal corporations see their employees as nothing more than figures on a balance sheet. Just because they can do it doesn’t mean that it’s OK. It is a bad trend in today’s business world. Nobody cares about anything but money. Where’s the aloha?

  3. I live in Montana and all companies have a probationary period before you become an official employee because it is against the law in Montana to fire an employee without notice and/or cause. It is possible to lay off a group of employees (or even one) but only with two week notice. Montana protects our workers from this kind of abuse.