When I was about 17 or 18 my mate Nick said to me one day when I was at a sixth form College in Birmingham, that there were jobs to be had doing ndustrial cleaning at the Austin Rover car building factory in Birmingham who were looking to take on students for cleaning work at weekends. So Friday evenings Saturday and Sunday work was available and the money paid was frankly very good.
So, the next Friday Nick and myself made sure that we got to the gates at 1600 where there were a group of about 40 lads hanging around waiting for the supervisors from Caves Industrial cleaning, to line us all up then a bit like picking the kids football team at school they randomly marched along the line picking people that they wanted. There did not appear to be any logic behind it. If they liked the look of you then you got selected, if not they walked past, leaving the poor soul to stew in thier shame and disappointment.
For some reason Nick and myself were chosen and so embarked my part time career as an industrial cleaner at the famous Austin car factory. It was a job that I did for over a year, and I was never late nor did I ever let them down. Yes it meant catching three buses and getting up at silly O’clock every Saturday and Sunday. My relationship with John, the main man was good. I worked hard and was diligent, which John seemed to appreciate.
And then slowly but surely I noticed subtle changes in our relationship. He seemed to stop talking to me, or so I thought and then he asked me to train a new lad to start to do some of the jobs that I had made my own. I also noticed that the banter that we had enjoyed seemed to have dried up. These were small signs that something was not right, there was nothing obvious but bit by bit I could tell things were not right.
And then on Friday as we all stood outside the gates waiting to be picked as were every week, he walked past me, he never said a single word, just motored past leaving me standing there watching his black donkey jacket disappear. As they started to walk through the gates I was caught as to what to do next, do I pretend nothing happened and stroll in with the other lads, or do I turn and walk back to the bus stop.
Well there was only one thing for it, I decided to walk in with the rest, and as I passed the security booth I heard a voice say to me. You are not needed anymore here, you can go home. Not a word of explanation, not a sausage as to why I was being sacked, just a sense of hurt, surprise and anger that my hard work clearly meant for absolutely Jack Doo Dah.Looking back I suppose getting the sack at such a young age taught me a valuable lesson about life. It also left me with a little ninja radar about looking for the signs when relations with the boss start to change. Delicate nuances like not being included anymore in decision making, not being invited to meetings and gatherings when once I was. Small little things really but bit by bit they stack up.
Delighted to report that I have not been sacked since those halcyon days of youth (well not yet anyway) but I have been made redundant which was simply horrible, In fact a lot worse than getting the sack as I had absolutely no idea, until the point that a ghastly women just told me out of the blue after 20 years that i was no longer needed and was being made redundant. That was one of the biggest and most unpleasant shocks that I have ever had in my entire life,
However,I hope that at least when it was my turn to sack people I always tried to do it as professionally and sympathically as I could. After all taking someone’s livelihood away from them is a big step and even though it needed to be done,at least it could be done with good grace. Indeed one of my nick names amongst the bus drivers was Sergeant Wilson from Dad’s Army fame because I was always so polite when I sacked them. In a Look I am awfully sorry old chap but regrettably I have no choice on this occasion but to summarily dismiss you from Company service with immediate effect. You do of course have the right to an appeal and I jolly well suggest that you consider that option.
Half the time I am not even sure they understood what I was saying and then when they did it was too late. Still it was all part of the joy of being a Manager, although I do not recall getting any joy in ever sacking anyone.