Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Since I told you I would tell you, here's what happened on my curiously named "Offboarding Day:"

It seemed like it should be a big deal, the end of my 24 year (17.5 credited service) career, but as I saw my two boys and husband leave the house they didn't even mention it, or wish me well, or anything. And then the phone rang, it was my mother. She is a connoisseur of big deals. So much so that I didn't want to tell her this news, and so had called out for Larry to do it on Sunday as I left the house to go shopping. So now she was on the phone, trying to drum up as much drama about the subject as she could, and I resisted with short statements like: "I'll be fine, it's not a big deal."

After that I checked my email. I got one from a now former coworker wishing me well, and he included a memo from Troy Clarke, GM Executive, that announced that the separations were going to be happening this week but that employees would be handled with "respect and dignity." I promised to be on the lookout for that at my offboarding.

Eventually I left the house to drive through pouring rain all the way to Warren, and went into the conference room at the VEC. Just inside the door was a flip-chart with the words "Expressed Interest Offboarding" written diagonally in cursive with different color markers. I thought that was a nice, welcoming touch, but wondered how they would decorate the sign the next day when it would be the people who were truly involuntary.

I saw my HR lady, Terri, who didn't look quite so miserable as she sounded on Friday, but she was sitting at a table already talking to a man. Another HR lady greeted me so I sat down across from her. Terri looked over and said hello to me, and the man she was with turned around, and it was Tom, my old seat belt technical mentor. We both said "Hey!" in a "fancy meeting you here" kind of way, and then got back to our business.

The HR lady asked me my name, and then got out a piece of paper that I saw had my name and years of service written down on it, and a large white envelope. She proceeded to write my name on the envelope with a marker, and then looked at me and said, as if she had been rehearsing: "So what are your plans?"

I looked back and said "I have no idea."

She didn't seem to know what to say to that, so she got down to the business of going through the checklist of things I was supposed to turn in (computer, badge, car pass, credit card, etc) and stuffing them into that envelope. I had everything ready so that didn't take long at all.

Then she got out another white envelope and explained that it was full of information about the severance. She said "Maybe later on you can pour yourself a glass of wine and go through it, good reading!" I pondered the wisdom of GM recommending its severed employees turn to alcohol, but I just nodded in agreement. She quickly went through a checklist of items that were supposed to be inside the envelope, then stuffed it inside and said that was all.

It all seemed rather impersonal. Not that I was expecting a powerpoint slideshow of the highlight moments of my career set to the music pomp and circumstance. (Although that would be cool to see) but the packet she gave me didn't even have my name on it.

Then she said she would get someone to walk me out, and dissappeared through a door in the back of the conference room. I was sitting there picturing some burly bouncer type security guard, maybe carrying a large gun, but instead she returned with a man I recognized as an HR executive who once gave a talk at about Managing your High Potential GM Career at an affinity group Lunch and Learn. The very fine seminar title of Exiting Your Unrealized Potential Employees came to mind but I just chit-chatted about nothing as he saw me to the turnstyle doors and wished me well.

Later on at home Timmy turned the TV on since he was tired from track practice. I sat down with him as the local news show began a story about "GM begins eliminating 1, 600 salaried employees this week." They even showed a close-up of the Troy Clarke Respect and Dignity letter, and a shot of the very building I was in, with cars driving out.

Timmy turned to me and said, "Oh yeah, you did that today, how did it go?"

I smiled at him and replied "It was no big deal."


Heather Leigh said...

It IS a big deal!!! Does Larry read your blog? Did he even take you out to dinner? Please tell me he did. Or that he's going to.

Nancy USA said...

Melinda, again, my experience is close to yours. After taking a maternity leave, then part-time, then full time, then a 2 year Family Leave, leaving GM for the final time with my package was well, just another event for our family. I think my son never knew when I might go to work and when I didn't!
No REAL big deal.

Although I did get some parties later!

On the other hand, my husband retired with 36 full-time years, no Leaves. Now THAT was a bigger deal for sure!

It sure is fun not working!

Call sometime and we'll drink that glass of wine together! :)

~Amy said...

Mindy...what a huge thing for you...even though you kind of "wanted it" at this point such a final thing after so many years is a HUGE deal. I will have Wednesday's off starting next week...let's plan some lunches on your deck and mine this summer...Drinking wine @ noon ;)

Will be thinking of you...


MomForThree said...

What I really want to know is how you got that stapler out of the building:-) I think GM could raise some money by auctioning off all the old supplies from the offices of the people that have left. There has to be some good stuff in there. I'm sure some struggling schools would appreciate staples, paperclips, pens and pencils!