How to Get Fired (Web exclusive)

Arrive to the morning team meeting twenty-three minutes late, balancing multiple aspects of your life – papers, raincoat, laptop, handbag, umbrella, breakfast, gym clothes, lunch – so that you look like a circus performer.  An untalented one, as your hot venti nonfat no-whip mocha tumbles into the lap of the Vice President of Corporate Affairs.  As he gets up to go tell his secretary to ask his wife to bring a change of clothes, let him know that the stained suit wasn’t actually very becoming anyway, so it’s probably for the best.

            Take a seat and chew your garlic bagel loudly and conspicuously, especially when you are talking.  Say things like, “I really disagree, Roger,” so that your words emerge in bagel-speak as “Ah wih-we disagwee, Waga.”  Smile broadly to display bits of soggy half-chewed bagel stuck to your teeth.  Ask the Vice President of External Relations seated next to you if he’d like some bagel, offering him a bite-riddled piece framed with red lipstick stains.  When he politely declines, say, “Oh, come on, Henry, I know it’s better than the PB&J your wife packed you for lunch.”  Laugh maniacally, revealing the disintegrating chunks of bagel in your mouth.

            Distribute copies of your presentation, uncollated, so that each person must pass around and sort through thirty-five unnumbered pages of slides.  Ensure that there are only enough copies for a third of the people at the table, so that each person must share with two others.  Make sure you’ve peppered the presentation with important text printed in a minuscule size at various significant points, so that even after people fidget for their reading glasses in pockets and briefcases and purses, it is still impossible for them to read the type.  When they ask what it says, tell them you don’t remember, but you’re fairly certain it’s something good.

            Include a table or two in your presentation with percentages that add up to more than 100, so that the CFO and the Senior Financial Analyst have an opportunity to show off their superior mathematical knowledge and attention to detail.

            When the Vice President of Corporate Affairs returns in a new suit, let him know that he’s missed all the important stuff in the meeting, that it’s impossible to convey what he missed, and that the first suit was much more flattering than this one.  Fill the empty silence with more maniacal laughter.

            Whenever anyone makes a comment, say things like, “You can’t possibly think that,” or “Are you kidding?” and accompany these phrases with an exaggerated eye-roll.  During the presentation by the Vice President of Marketing, tap your pen against the edge of the table at a gradually increasing speed.  When you’ve reached the fastest tempo possible, slow the tapping down before breaking into a pen-tap rendition of “Jingle Bells.”  Close your eyes and feel the rhythm.  Let your entire body move with the music.  Then spin around in your chair and laugh maniacally.

            When the VP of Human Resources asks if you are OK, ask her if she’s OK.  Let this dialogue play out in a “Who’s on First” fashion, making sure never to actually answer her initial question.

            As the CEO begins to explain this new phase of strategic planning, reach for the hands of the executives on either side of you and suggest, “Why don’t we all sing, ‘Kumbaya’?”  Don’t wait for an answer – just start singing.  Keep singing, even when they take you from your chair and have the security guards escort you from the building.



Jenny Lentz is a transplanted Southerner residing in Philadelphia. Her  fiction has won awards from The Baltimore Review, Writer’s Digest, Writers Notes Magazine, Main Street Rag, Spire Magazine, and The New Writer, among others, and her writing has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.  She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Bryn Mawr College.

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