EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The Classy Girl’s Guide to Unemployment

By Sheila Moeschen

Thanks to the constant threat of layoffs, an unshakeable sense of impending doom pervades today’s job climate Instead of obsessing over the indignities and humiliations sure to befall you during this time of job insecurity, take control and give your downsizing a dose of style and class by following these tips from The Classy Girl’s Guide to Unemployment.

The Corporate Break-Up; or Killing Me Softly with This Job

When the “talk” between you, your supervisor, and the grandmotherly HR rep occurs it is critical to remain poised and dignified at all times. When your boss tosses around every euphemism invented for the dreaded phrase “you’re fired,” resist the urge to sigh loudly, roll your eyes, or smash him over the head with his marble and gold-plated desktop 2003 Outstanding Leadership Award.  Above all, do not cry.

A healthy balance exists between welling up in a moment of refined sobriety and clinging to your cheap ergonomic chair in a fit of hysteria. In the event that you lose control over your tear ducts and allow this salty discharge to course down your pretty face, shame on you for lacking such discipline. The reasons behind your dismissal are pretty clear now, aren’t they? To rescue the situation, perform one or more of the following actions:   

  1. Lower your head as if intently scrutinizing your HR packet.
  2. Rummage around in your bag or purse as if looking for a pen or lip-gloss. If you do not have a bag or purse with you, rummage through your pockets.  If you do not have pockets, rummage in someone else’s pockets.
  3. Fake a heart attack.
  4. Have a heart attack.

Exit Etiquette; or Burn Bridges, not Co-Workers

Once you have come to terms with the initial shock of your firing, you can prepare for your departure. Do not look at your exit strategy as a depressing affair, but rather as an important opportunity to leave an indelible (and preferably legal) mark on your workmates. After all, the cohorts you leave behind are still important. These individuals probably harbor a healthy amount of survivor’s guilt from being spared a layoff, making them ideal lunch and dinner companions, ready to assuage their remorse by picking up the check.  True, you will no longer have the opportunity to dazzle them with your superior grasp of Excel spreadsheets (Five color codings?! Wow!) or delight them with your hilarious YouTube clips of pets in party hats, (A gerbil in a gold top hat? You slay us!), but that is, after all, their loss.   

It is vital to leave your workplace with your sterling reputation intact. Resist the urge to taunt, provoke, dredge up old wounds (Bill never did pay you for that extra order of Funions at Applebees, did he?) or leave damning evidence that may be entered into a court of law. When people pass by your empty cubicle, you want them to sigh longingly as they recall the way your Anne Geddes calendar hung askew on your portable walls and that cute way you had of answering the phone with a mouthful of Snickers bar. Former co-workers will carry you through those long stretches of self-esteem crashes in the journey back into paid work, they will bolster your chances of finding new employment through one of their contacts, and they will help you beat your drinking problem.

Staplers and Other Office Consolation Prizes       

For better or worse, you consider your office a home away from home, a home where no one openly judges you for leaving hair in the sink. You have taken great care and pride to surround your environment with personal possessions as photos, favorite mugs, or other tchotchkes that make your individual hell bearable. As such, remove your valuables with care and deliberateness:

1. Leave No Drawer Unrifled: Be sure to search all logical places you may have placed objects: drawers, cubby holes, cabinets, air ventilator ducts, etc.  Be diligent in your exploration to avoid overlooking important items such as a favorite watch or your birth control pills.

2. Itemize: As you take stock of your materials, take note of things you have versus things you need. Chances are your drawers and shelves at home already runneth over with coffee mugs, picture frames, pens, and paper clips.  Conversely, your chair, the coffee maker, the shredder, the seagull oil painting in the conference room, and the Ficus plant in the lobby are just what you could use to spruce up the one-bedroom utility closet your super calls “a studio.” 

3. Banish the Boxes: A standard cardboard box smacks of an antiquated sensibility; it is your grandmother’s packing vessel of choice, a holdover from a time of adding machines, ink-wells, and Microsoft office products.  Designers such as Kate Spade, Vivienne Westwood, and Betsy Johnson offer scrumptious totes and bags specially created to accommodate the recently terminated in their mission to, as Nancy, a comptroller from Detroit said, “Take everything that can’t be pried out of your gnarled, arthritic hands.”  We recommend the Louis Vuitton Supply Satchel.  Made out of rare albino crocodile skin, this satchel contains 45 interior pockets, a separate zippered attachment pouch, two types of retractable handles, and removable wheels, perfect for squirreling away everything from paper clip boxes to Ted in receiving.  Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, and Halle Berry are just a few of the A-list classy girls who have purchased the Louis Vuitton Supply Satchel for friends and relatives whom they have fired, laid off, or had deported.

Remember, you may not have a job any longer, but at least you have your class!


Sheila Moeschen is a Boston-based writer.  Her work has appeared in Girl W/ Pen, Associated Content, Open Salon, and on the Women in Comedy Blog.