Friday, July 10, 2015

Dancing on the graves of those laid off. (If you’re going to do, don’t advertise it.)

Pink Slip regular Frederick Wright, in commenting on Wednesday’s “Of Corporate Bonding,” noted that he’d recently read about some quite untoward behavior on the part of a J.Crew VP who, in the hours after he’d had to lay off some of his team, went out whooping it up.

Alejandro Rhett, vice president of men’s merchandising, personally delivered the bad news to several workers who were among the 175 layoffs at the struggling company on June 10, sources told The Post.

Rhett then hightailed it from J.Crew’s East Village headquarters to the Linen Hall bar, where he and other still-employed colleagues threw back drinks. (Source: NY Post)

Going out drinking after you’ve had to let some employees go is not exactly a rare event, I suspect. If you have any heart and/or soul and/or common decency, making your pink slip list, checking it twice, and telling someone that their services are no longer required is exceedingly stressful. At least when I had to do it, we’re talking sleepless nights before and after. So I don’t blame anyone for blowing off a little stream, now that the tension of having to do the dastardly deed is released.

At least in the high tech of my era, the more likely scenario was a group meet up with laid off colleagues at the nearest watering hole on layoff day.

I went to plenty of these bitter, black-humored and depressing events, but never when I’d actually had to let someone in my group go. No, on those days, I went home and cried (probably over a glass of wine or two).

In any case, while it’s understandable why someone would want to go out after laying people off, there’s something unseemly about it if your ‘glad that’s over’, sigh of relief celebrating is witnessed by those who just lost their jobs.

In one of the first lay offs I lived through, the two bone-heads (out of town management) who did the informing were seen high-fiving in a glassed in office after they’d just wrecked the collective day of our little band.

At least we had the satisfaction later finding out that they got stuck in Boston over the weekend due to a blizzard that wasn’t quite forecast.  

Anyway, the problem with Alejandro Rhett’s actions weren’t so much that he went out for a few pops, and made bad jokes and sardonic comments. Sure, he could be a granite-hearted a-hole, but he might just be an inexperienced young guy who had to do something really hard.

The problem, as is so often the case, is that he had to make sure his actions were recorded and shared with the world:

In one shot, Rhett and a female pal literally jumped for joy, with the executive hoisting a drink in his right hand and pointing his left finger to the sky, “Number One”-style.

Hashtags attached to the pic — which scored 33 “likes” — included #hungergames and #maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavor.

Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, or whether you’re just an innocent bystander watching your friends and colleagues pack their mugs and desk calendars in cardboard boxes and head for the exit, layoffs are excruciating to go through. The tension leading up to them – and there’s always tension leading up to them; they’re never a surprise – is dreadful. When I was at Wang, a fellow on my floor had a heart attack and died in his cubicle a few days before a massive reduction in force.

Although an actual death is a pretty rare occurrence, black humor almost always follows a layoff. If Hunger Games had existed, I’m sure we would have used analogies to it when I was living the vida layoff.


Rhett and J.Crew employee Julie Stamos also posed for a “casual photo shoot” outside the watering hole, modeling preppy clothing and sunglasses.

In one of those shots, the 31-year-old Rhett flipped the bird to photographer and underling Vanessa de Jesus, who works in J.Crew’s men’s merchandising department.

Stamos posted the photo, tagging it #forthewin and #damnitfeelsgoodtobeagangster.

It almost goes without saying that – or so it has been reported - Alejandro Rhett lost his job in the aftermath of all this Instagramming and hashtagging.

Rhett may well be a callous jerk. Or he could just be someone who, in the throes of relief that “it” was over with, couldn’t resist the twenty-something urge to show and tell.

Didn’t I say this just the other day, but when will they ever learn?

Thanks, Frederick. This one’s for you.

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