August 1988

rosetrellisThings looked so bright at the beginning of the year. But then, I didn’t get into Wharton, and Lou got fired from his job. Maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t get accepted. I think Lou tried to change too much too quickly, and he upset too many of the wrong people. The worst part of all this is that they fired him over the telephone while he was in New York with his father who was going into surgery for a laryngectomy because of throat cancer. Lou had a feeling the axe was going to fall, so before he left work the last time, he brought home all the files that he thought were important to him that he’d never see again. He was certain this one guy in particular was working hard to get rid of him, and that he was manipulating the facts to make Lou look bad to the owner. I think if Lou had been more patient and made more compromises along the way it would have been better for everyone involved. Now the people who supported him are left hanging on their own.

Lou’s dad had come to our house to visit for a while to try to decide what he wanted to do. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to have the surgery or not. He spent most of his time here working in the garden. We have a great garden area in the back yard. There’s a huge lattice fence with beautiful climbing roses that goes up to about 8 feet tall. Lou put it up to block the view of our neighbor’s backyard. We do all the plantings together in the spring, and then Lou keeps it nice. He’s a much better gardener than I am. I’m good at figuring out what to buy and where to put it, but he’s good at the weeding and maintenance. The one time I tried to plant my own little garden area, he thought they were weeds and pulled them all out. Oops. Anyway they spent a lot of time out there together. Bottom line, he decided to have the surgery. Lou went to the VA hospital to see his dad, and after he went in for the operation, Lou called into the office and got fired over the phone. Lou left before his dad got out of the O/R. I know he was upset, but I wouldn’t have been able to leave if it were my father. I probably should have gone with him, even though he didn’t really want me to. Lou told me that his father walked him around the hospital to show him where he had stayed for a while earlier on, which turned out to be a tour of the mental health ward, where everyone knew him. He had told us that he was there previously because of his throat cancer, but hadn’t mentioned anything else. I imagine he was treated for depression. I’m glad he got help.

I know that Lou was depressed himself after being fired. All he did was sit around the house playing solitaire; game after game, after game. To add insult to injury, the company had only offered him two weeks’ severance pay. He was threatening to sue, but they insisted he was an employee at will, and they had the right to terminate his employment for any reason or no reason at all. Lou contacted a lawyer who pretty much said he had no case. I called the owner of the company myself to make a personal appeal. I explained how devastated Lou was, and that he had put his heart and soul into his job and the employees. Lou now felt that they never intended to keep him on, and that they had just been using him for his ideas short term, but didn’t want him to ultimately have any real management authority. Lou felt he was deceived and defrauded. The owner said that certainly wasn’t the case, and was sorry that he felt that way, but that Lou just wasn’t a good fit with the management team. I explained that my experience has been that someone at Lou’s level should be given at least six months’ severance pay. I couldn’t believe it when he agreed to those terms. Lou thinks it is because the owner feels guilty and that he knows they were wrong, and is afraid of a lawsuit. Personally, I think my conversation was effective and the owner had empathy, and most likely just didn’t want to deal with the topic anymore. Whatever the reason, it is good to have an income while he looks for another job.

I’ve been using the word processor at my office to type up application letters for him, which is a lot easier than the typewriter we have at home. I get the Wall Street Journal from the VP’s office here and cut out all the manufacturing management classified ads for him to review and approve for me to send out a letter and resume. My managers are afraid I will have to leave soon because Lou will get a job out of state or something. So far no interviews, but we keep sending out resumes.

I already have a lot of experience using the word processor and the PC and plotter at work from when Lou became President of the South Jersey APICS Chapter. I agreed to be VP of Publicity, which meant I had to do the monthly newsletter. I typed it, did artwork, got it printed, and did all the folding, labeling, and mailing. I spent a lot of late nights working on it, but I must say that the newsletter was looking mighty fine with my touch. I absolutely despise going to the meetings and conferences, though. BORING.  But as an officer, I have to attend, and have also taken several of the certification exams. At least I have something new to put on my own resume.

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