Dateline: April 1990. I was a young office worker in a marketing department. Our job was to sell senior living apartments to retirement age homeowners. Somehow the job had turned into a cold-calling telemarketing nightmare. And cold-calling can only be made worse when you are cold-calling elderly people.
"Hello, is Mr. Smith available?"
"MR. SMITH DIED LAST YEAR!!!!"
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry...um...are you Mrs. Smith?"
"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU PEOPLE KEEP CALLING HERE - MR. SMITH IS DEAD."
"I apologize Ma'am, I'm calling from XXX and was hoping to talk to you about an opportunity to live in a place with more amenities and services that would enrich your life."
"WHY WOULD I LEAVE MY HOME??? MR. SMITH BUILT THIS WITH HIS OWN HANDS AND I RAISE ALL 17 OF MY KIDS HERE AND WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING HERE ASKING FOR MR. SMITH?"
[probably because Mr. Smith is still the name on all the utility bills and public records...but I get how it is upsetting]
"Well we thought you might enjoy a day out and a tour and learning a little about what we offer - we like to compare our community with a cruise ship on land, we have activities, and restaurants, and organized outings, and..."
"I DON'T LIKE TO CRUISE, I GET SEASICK. AND MY NEIGHBOR MILDRED DRIVES ME TO SHOP I DON'T NEED AN ORGANIZED OUTING. AND I COOK FOR MYSELF...THOSE FANCY FOODS DON'T AGREE WITH MY DIGESTION."
Multiply this conversation by 100 and you had my typical workday.
And yet, as miserable as I was at this job, when I sat across the desk from my boss that morning and expected the usual pep talk about how to handle the calls and her expectations for at least 7 appointments to be made that week, I was unpreprepared for her announcement that I was being let go.
It was devastating. I hated this job, but to have someone take it away was like a blow to the gut.
In the end, after unemployment and frustrating job searches, and finally a relocation to find work, I found my real professional home. And after some time had passed I realized that boss had done me a real favor in kicking my complacent miserable ass to the curb.
Fast forward 20 years and here I am. On the other side of the desk. And I'm here to tell you that the message is no easier to give than it was to receive.