Life At Megacorp 19

If I had decided to eat out for lunch, when working at Turtle Bay Canada in Toronto, I frequently walked over to the food court at First Canadian Place because it had so much natural light. I am no fan of bunkers with bright fluorescent lighting which one finds so often in downtown Toronto. If you have been to the Scotiabank food court in Toronto you’ll know what I mean.

Over the past few years I noted I was just about the oldest person out of the thousand or so people that were eating there. In your mid to late fifties you really aren’t that old, but eating at this food court was suddenly making me feel old.

Could it be that the older people, like Sally Self, were playing the game of looking busy and devoted hence eating at her desk was a necessity to perpetuate that image? Were the wise old people so desperate to save their job that they decided to be chained to their desk at lunch despite productivity studies showing a one-hour lunch off promised improved productivity?

Image, as opposed to reality. Sometimes this is important at Megacorp.

On the other hand, it was probably the case that Megacorp targets those in their mid-fifties and greater as prime downsizing targets so there are just no old folks left in the office towers. In fact, at Turtle Bay Canada, I was beginning to feel old to the extent I was one of 4 out of a thousand or so employees who had reached the age of 60.

Based on my trips to Turtle Bay America in New York, I noticed the lack of old folks there, too, except of course for the Senior Management Team and board of directors who wanted their hand in the cookie jar of executive compensation for the longest period.

It was out of the game by stroke, cancer, or heart attack for them.

However, even then I recall a member of Turtle Bay’s Canadian board of directors who, despite a severe stroke from which he was labouring to recover, so very slowly returned to the board. The extra $6,000 per board meeting must have hastened his recovery.

Who cared if he was setting himself up for another stroke? A man who should be packing it in, yet instead begging for a premature death.

Turtle Bay’s Canadian SMT blessed mega terminations of healthy employees, but keeping a crippled and mentally challenged stroke victim on its board was fine? Why? Because he was one of their own.

I began to detect a pattern in Turtle Bay terminations, and other corporate terminations for that matter, where the older ranks (far younger than 65) were particularly subject to the cull. These were people often with deep operational and practical knowledge who could get the job done in far less time than a newly hired employee could.

So, from an efficiency standpoint, culling the older employees did not make sense.

What did make sense was that older workers had higher salaries. Their health was not as robust as the younger employees. Since there were so many terminations, the remaining older employees had far too much responsibility heaped on their shoulders and more were making disability claims based on workplace stress.

Labour is but a commodity and older workers, in direct dollar and measurable costs, are more expensive.

Get terminated in your 50s and good luck in finding another job. Like society at large, there is racism, sexism, and certainly ageism. Megacorp chews you up and spits you out and occasionally hires a fresh set of recruits as soon as the post downsizing “hiring freeze” ends.

I find it ironic that there is no legal retirement age although most Canadians set it at 65 while our federal government has raised Canada Pension Plan entitlement to 67. Yet, the real retirement age and the end of the road age at Megacorp is somewhere between 57 and 60, for the average employee.

Just how many can afford being thrust into retirement?

Now, if you are lucky to make it until 65 in the workplace and don’t retire, and expect to get a severance package, I have found that Megacorp can make life difficult for you.

My poor friend, Bill Mudsle, had reached 65 and suddenly all the staff that had been reporting to him were now reporting to another person. His office was taken from him and he was placed in a cubicle. He no longer had regularly scheduled meetings with the President.

The reasons for these harassment tactics were always logically presented to Mudsle by Turtle Bay Canada. Eventually it became apparent it was not worth the humiliation of remaining nor of suing Turtle Bay Canada for constructive dismissal. He left.

Can one honestly say Mudsle retired or that was he constructively dismissed?

The treatment of Mudsle was disgusting, plus no farewell party was organized by Turtle Bay. His fellow employees organized cake and coffee at their own expense and a smaller group of his friends took him and his wife out for a farewell dinner.

I knew that Megacorp can be greedy, brutal, and heartless, but a lack of a formal Turtle Bay Canada send-off for Mudsle was down right mean. Mudsle told me at this farewell dinner he felt like he had been stabbed by a long, icy cold knife.

This event gave me the resolve never to go down to Megacorp’s sinister ambitions without a fight. If Turtle Bay Canada planned to take me out it would be time to make them pay. Perhaps a pre-emptive strike was in order.

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About the Author

Ross Trenholm
Life at Megacorp is a true-to-life account of living and working in the higher echelons of the corporate world. Ross Trenholm is the fictionalized persona of those who have lived the Megacorp life and only the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.