You are hard at work reading the latest about plunging U.S. auto sales and suspected arson in Osaka when your manager, The Gap, comes by your desk. This is not a good sign, as he only ever drops by when he wants to talk to you. Which is never.
“John Turningpin,” he says, “can I speak with you a moment please?”
Oh, Lord, you think. Here it is.
Time for the hammer to come down.
It’s no secret that things have not been going well for the company. Your section, once considered the cornerstone of the whole operation, has fallen on hard times. There have been talks of transfers and even downsizing. Setsuyaku (penny-pinching) is the new mantra, and the fact that you’ve done bugger-all on the job for the last two months was bound to have been picked up on eventually, even by someone as chronically thick as The Gap.
“As you know,” he begins, gesturing you to have a seat, “the company is going through some tough times. There have been cuts made all around. More than ever, people are being judged by their work performance.” He stops a moment, eyes you seriously.
“We’ve had to get tough on underachievers.”
“Yessir,” you say, already resigned.
The Gap pulls out a sealed envelope. He places it on the table, pushes it toward you. It has your name on it: Mister John Turningpin, no less.
Three months’ unemployment, here I come.
“We’re bumping you up from Class 3 Peon to Class 2 Peon. I hope you’ll continue to work as hard — if not harder — in the following year.” The Gap gets up, begins walking away. You remain seated, mainly because you’re not sure how to react.
“Be sure to stamp that and hand it into HR” The Gap says over his shoulder. A few strides of that loping, pirate-like gait of his and he’s gone.
Leaving you with your envelope.