HR Strange But True!
May 03, 2007

When writer/actress Annabelle Gurwitch was fired by Woody Allen, she was miserable and started asking people she admired if they had ever gotten fired. So her celebrity friends (Felicity Huffman, Bill Maher, Tim Allen, Patricia Heaton, and more) consoled her by sharing their own horror stories of being let go. Gurwitch has collected these stories into radio commentaries, a one-woman show, a film, and now a new book, Fired! Tales of the Canned, Canceled, Downsized, & Dismissed.

For example, actress Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) didn't find out she was dropped from a role she had in a Neil Simon play until she read it in a New York newspaper! Tim Allen (Home Improvement) was fired from a nightclub because the manager said: "You're talented, you've got creative ideas, and people like you. I hate popular people, and you remind me of all the things I don't do well."

Emmy winner Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) was once fired with the line "We're going with an attractive actress for this part." Comedian Andy Borowitz was fired as writer on The Facts of Life, a job "where the only incentive was getting a logo coffee mug from Mrs. Garrett," because he mixed up Natalie and Tootie's personalities and was told "You just don't 'get' Tootie!"

Writer Bruce Cameron was once hired by the human resources department of a software company to handle benefits. But the company didn't tell him that they were cutting 60 percent of the staff, so he personally had to fire 300 people. Afterward, he was told he "wasn't cut out for the job"--and fired.

Gurwitch finds that stories of "decruitment" can be grouped into categories, which she used as chapter titles in her book:

  • The Job So Terrible You Can Only Hope to Be Fired
  • The Firing You Didn't See Coming
  • The Time You Deserved to Be Fired
  • The Time Getting Fired Leads You to Something Better
  • The Time You Had to Fire Yourself

Interspersed with the tales of woe--and retribution--are work-related quotes ("I do not like work, even when someone else does it"--Mark Twain) and "Fired Fact" info boxes, such as:

  • Fired Fact--Number of employees terminated by "Neutron" Jack Welch: 118,000. Welch received the nickname, because like the bomb, he eliminated people, but kept buildings intact.
  • Fired Fact--Increase in risk of heart attack faced by employer firing an employee in the week after the firing--100 percent.

Included in the book, published by Simon & Schuster, is a postfiring "form letter" in which Gurwitch lets you chose your own, albeit sarcastic, "sentiments"--but wisely advises that you not put your return address on the envelope.

And there's even "The Fired Song," complete with sheet music.

If you would like to contribute your own story, as "firer" or "firee," visit Gurwitch's website.

TGIF - It's HR
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