About seven years ago I was ‘laid off’ by the institution I’d been employed by for sixteen years. Below you will find a word-for-word copy of my termination letter. It has not been doctored, redacted or re-written in any way. I’m sure doing this is totally illegal, but it’s not as if anyone actually read my ‘blog’ anyway, so caution to the winds I’m letting the ‘chips’ fall where they ‘may’.
Dear Former employee (To be classified as ‘former’ beginning the moment you read the word ‘dear’)
In connection with the termination of your employment, you are eligible to receive the severance benefits described in this document, henceforth referred to as ‘Description of severance benefits’. Should you sign and return this document to the Vice President of Human Resources, You will be entering into a binding legal agreement with us, henceforth referred to as the company you worked most of your adult life for right up until you read the word ‘dear’ in this document, at which time we shut of your phone and email account and deactivated the badge that allowed you to enter what was once your office and use the elevator you just rode up in. Therefore, you are advised to consult with an attorney before signing this letter, which you might be able to afford if you still worked for us, and could still afford if you sign this letter accepting your severance package, except by then it will be too late.
If you choose not to sign the letter of acceptance, you will not receive your severance package, sending you out into a rapidly decaying economy with no money beyond whatever you’ve saved, and with what we’ve been paying you, we can be reasonably sure this is a negative number. In addition, security will not call the elevator for you, and you will be forced to take the stairs to the ground floor and exit the building which was your workplace five days a week for the bulk of your adult life, a sweat soaked, pathetic wreck.
The following numbered paragraphs, hereafter referred to as ‘the stations of your humiliation’, set forth the totally legal and utterly binding conditions, no matter how bizarre, arbitrary and illegal they may seem to be, that you will be subject to under penalty of law.
- Termination Date – Today, about five minutes ago, based on our assumption you are a slow reader.
- Description of Severance Benefits – The only money you will be getting in the near future apart from Unemployment, which if you’ve never gotten before, we should tell you pays for either your food or your rent/mortgage, but certainly not both. As for the debatable solace of cable, believe us when we say it will not be in your budget. But don’t sign if you don’t want to. For all we know you won the lottery last year and only continued working here because… okay, that’s not very likely, but we don’t know it’s statistically possible. You do what you feel is best.
- Release – This is the big one. Take a deep breath before continuing, then say this real fast: In consideration of the payment of severance benefits, which we in no way have to give you, so think carefully, you hereby fully, forever, irrevocably unconditionally, no backsies no matter how bizarre and seemingly illegal our stipulations; release and discharge this company, it’s officers, it’s directors, it’s stockholders, it’s Mom, it’s friends named ‘Dave’, it’s clowns, it’s monkeys, it’s one armed preachers (each in their individual and corporate identities, hereafter referred to as ‘anyone we say’) from any and all, (take another deep breath, and…) claims, charges, complaints, demands, actions, obligations, liabilities, lawsuits, blood oaths, vendettas, tit-for-tats, which you had or might have or thought of or dreamed of or made a birthday wish about or briefly hallucinated after a head trauma; Including all claims arising out of title XXIVLMX of the civil rights act of 1918, the Americans with funny hats act, the Federal Farm Animal Noises Act, or any other claims that can be made out of any words in any language ever by you, your lawyer or any animal that can be trained to mimic human speech or use sign language; and you hereby recognize that at any time for the rest of your life we can smash through your bedroom window While you sleep, inject you with psychotropic drugs and insert any number of spindly objects, such as, but not limited to, an extendable feather duster into any orifice or orifices existing or to be created upon you at that point forever and ever, world without end amen. If you want your money, you’ll let us.
- Non disclosure– No telling. No matter what we do to you now or have done to you in the past or might do at any time for the rest of your life when you least expect it. Not a peep, not a whisper, so help you god or we will bash you with a hammer from behind.
- Non-disparagement – You understand that as a condition of accepting your severance you will not make any false, disparaging or derogatory statements to any media outlet, industry group, friend, relative, acquaintance, pet, plush toy, lamp post and even in your most private moments alone in the dark you will not say one bad word, not one, not ever, not even on your death bed, not even as a ghost after you die, and that to be on the safe side you will never again so much as mention our name so that if a dinner guest asks you “Where was it you used to work?” you must say “Mmmmmnh?” or pretend to have a stroke or deliberately wet yourself to divert attention.
- Validity – should any line, clause, word or emoticon found in this letter be found by a court of law illegal or invalid, the remaining parts, every damn word of them, some of which are printed really, really small and maybe in invisible ink, shall remain valid and binding so good luck Charlie.
- Confidentiality – If you show so much as a corner of this letter to anyone, even that lawyer we recommended you have look at it, we get to chop your nuts right off. Seriously.
- Cooperation – If any of your former colleagues, both those terminated (hereafter referred to as ‘disgruntled psychopaths’) and those still employed (hereafter referred to as ‘chumps’) decide to sue us, you will testify against them on our behalf just like you were a puppet and we had our hand up you, which we may literally do, should it prove necessary.
- Nature of Agreement – You understand that this letter is a really, really nice severance package that we in no way had to do at all, and not an admission the shoving you out the door after however many years with no warning whatsoever in a totally humiliating manner is kind of a morally lax thing to do. We are great guys treating you way better than you deserve and if you make us feel the least little bit guilty for even a second we may change our minds and leave you with doodly crap.
- Voluntary assent – You love this. Say it. Say it. Say it now. LOUDER! YOU LOVE THIS SEVERANCE PACKAGE! IT’S SO BIG! TAKE IT! YEAH! TAKE IT!
- Involuntary assent – Remember last Saturday? When you went to that bar? And things got kind of crazy? And when you woke up the next day you weren’t entirely sure how things had gone down? Yeah. That was us. We put a ‘roofy’ in your drink and took you to a soundstage and dressed you up as a sexy chicken and made you say you were totally into this severance package. And on the video? It kind of looks like you were into it. We’re just saying. And it would be a shame if that footage got on You-Tube. Capice?
In conclusion, Thanks for the gumball, Mickey.
Now smile while you sign your name.