Viciousness is just a cost of doing business here in America’s Eternal Boomtown. Not any amount of attaboys and company recognition tokens, nor the number of badges on your lanyard will help you when it’s time to rightsize the workforce.

One example from a few years ago. A suit and another large gentleman come by a cubicle. Your cubicle. You hear a faint murmur in the room, then silence. “Hands away from the keyboard!” The large gentleman unplugs your computer and disconnects any network cables in case you’ve got something funny planned. You are given a memo from Human Resources. The obligatory cardboard box is handed over and you have about five minutes max to collect your personal belongings, which are inspected by the suit and the large gentleman. “Where is your car parked?” You are led away from as much other office activity as possible to the parking lot and ordered to leave the premises at once. After the shaking subsides enough you manage to put your keys in the ignition and start your car, and make your way onto the public street as a company security vehicle follows you off the premises and tails you for a block or two.

That night, you try to piece together the day’s events. It seems crazy but the few co-workers you passed on the way out sounded like they were softly quacking like nervous ducks in the presence of a predator.