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You Call That Groveling?

Denison, you've been with the company 14 years now, and you've always been a real team player. Rarely a sick day, money with deadlines, a real can-do guy in the clutch. So how is it that you could have dropped the ball so badly on this one? I thought I could count on you for some real down-and-dirty begging and self-degradation when we told you we'd have to let you go as part of cost-cutting initiatives. We expected you to plead for your job back. But what you're doing is disappointing to say the least. You call that groveling?

My God, man, you're not even on your knees! When I think of groveling, I think of people putting it all out on the line. Really going for broke. No composure, no restraint, just a flood of sobbing, pleading hysterics. All you seem to have in you is "I just don't understand, sir," and "I've worked hard for the company for 14 years. This is the thanks I get?"

And that last one: "Can you reconsider this? I really think I deserve better." Not with that attitude, I won't! Your work performance was top-notch. Why can't your pleading rise to that same level?

Let's look at the situation: You want to keep your job. Now, I'd love nothing more than to let you keep it. At the same time, I see a man who's not willing to frantically beg me not to lay him off. Do you see the difficult position you're putting me in here? If you are unwilling to throw yourself at my mercy, how can I possibly believe that you want my mercy?

I can't say I'm unmoved by your words. I'm just not moved enough. Maybe you should try a little more of the sob story. You know, bring in some sort of dramatic tension. You have kids. Are any of them sick? In need of braces? How about your house? Did you just put down a deposit on a new roof? Dammit, Denison, would it kill you to squeeze one lousy tear out of your eye?

Maybe it would help if I filled you in on some of the details of your dismissal. Perhaps if you knew the stupidity, shortsightedness, and injustice of it all, you'd whip up the sort of fire and passion I'm looking for. Did you know that we—not "you-and-me we," but "me-and-the-company-you-used-to-work-for-until-five-minutes-ago we"—are on track to make record profits this year? Absolutely true, and it's all thanks to the money we're saving by letting 30 percent of our senior middle management go. You know, the loyal foot soldiers, the would-be lifers.

Doesn't that get your blood in a boil?

How about this cruel fact: I'm set to receive a huge bonus this year. Huge. We're talking more than you made the last five years put together, on top of my regular huge salary. Whoof, it's in the high six figures. I bet you really want to cut loose now. Come on, let me have it with both barrels of self-respect-obliterating histrionics!

How can I possibly take you seriously if you're not willing to surrender every last shred of human dignity you have? Put a little pepper on it, man! Tell me how much this job means to you and how great your performance has been. Choke up when you tell me how wonderful I've been as a boss. Belly-flop to the ground in front of me and kiss my feet.

Okay, that last one, that's a little over-the-top. After all, you have your dignity. I wouldn't expect that of you. But I wouldn't say no to it, either.

Edwards was in here getting the old pink slip not more than 15 minutes ago. Now, there's a fella who took it hard. He was really pouring it on, telling me how his wife was already thinking about leaving him, and that he had twin daughters starting college in the fall. Hoo-boy, when it came time for his moment of truth, he could really bring the waterworks. Left a stain on my carpet. You're standing in his saltwater puddle right now. Now, it still wasn't enough to make me reconsider, but it did set the pleading bar pretty high. So if you want to make an impression now, you'll have to top a man who threw a crying fit so ferocious, his mustache got soggy with snot.

Denison, I'm a busy man, so let me cut to the chase. I could sit here all day waiting for you to lose your composure, but I won't. If you're not going to reduce yourself to a pathetic heap of sobs and self-flagellation in the next 45 seconds, I'm going to have no choice but to call security and have you removed.

Forty-one... forty-two... forty-three... forty-four... forty-five... time. Guards, please escort Mr. Denison to the front door. Thank you.

Wait! Don't go! So you still won't grovel, eh? Hmm... You have more guts that I thought, Denison. I've sorely underestimated you. I always thought of you as a spineless weakling. You've got solid-brass balls. If I've misjudged you on the spine front, maybe I've made a severe miscalculation in letting you go. Perhaps I shouldn't have acted so hastily in your case.

Nah, I'm just kidding. Get the hell out of here! And don't come back until you're ready to show me some groveling that'll straighten my short-and-curlies!

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