Good bye, go away, don’t call us on any other day

All over the world people leave jobs or are asked to go and that is about it. In expatland the situation is dramatically different. Thanks to the perpetuation of old habits there still is attached some sort of stigma to departure, as if you have done something wrong or been contaminated. A day after you leave, the doors slam in your face.

By T Ram Kishore

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Published: Fri 21 May 2010, 9:41 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:27 AM

Colleagues become awkward, the hierarchy has you marked off as an ‘outsider’ and you cannot, in many cases, even visit the premises. Years of hard, good work counts for nothing. So things aren’t working out, so shake and go your different ways.

As an expert on the subject, having been in that position often enough, I can relate several incidents where the texture of the post-departure relationship would have been laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. Even wives and children are not exempt. Those who are still on the rolls shy away, they won’t invite your children to be with their children in case it is reported back to the office and is seen as an act of high treachery. Wives disappear, you are knocked off their guest list.

You think I exaggerate? The tragedy is that it does get reported back as ‘gossip’ and a certain disapproval is expressed. You’d think in as corporate structure, a bank, a chartered accountant firm, an engineering company, there’d be enough maturity to say ‘goodbye’ with style.

This dimension of not speaking to each other in the aftermath was acceptable when the element of competition was fierce in a nascent set up, people were not easily lured to a pioneering location and confidentiality was at stake.

People had to protect their investment in manpower acumen. In today’s hi tech world where talent is in full flow not only is everyone so thoroughly dispensable but you can be forgotten in twenty minutes and replaced at lesser cost with no deterioration in quality in about fifteen.

Consequently, the need to maintain a hostile profile in the aftermath seems a totally redundant exercise. As for taking confidential data with you to ‘sell’ to the competitor you could not compete with Google even if you tried.

If someone is leaving you bet they have downloaded everything and sent it onwards through the ether.

Just let the person go, what difference does it make?

You don’t need him, you won’t even miss him.

By some strange chemistry that no one quite understands the ‘seen’ becomes an indictment, as if in some way the company man has let down the side and consorted with the enemy.

It is not the enemy; it is a former colleague. We met at a party, we have been friends for ten years, colleagues, done dinners, spent weekends, done desert trips, my wife and kids are friends with his wife and kids. What was I supposed to do? Ignore him, he only left the job, he didn’t rob the till.

Now, you are apologising for your friend. Of course, it is incredible. So was Houdini. And he existed.

Consequently, not only are friendships strained and even broken off but the common courtesies are put on hold.

All too often it isn’t the bosses who care, it is their minions who create this suspicion psychosis and add to the unpleasantness of it all.

And since expats have the fragility of a reed in the wind and must, ipso facto, save their mangy little jobs, they capitulate. They decide it isn’t worth the hassle, the risk, wife’s job, children’s schooling, the bossman’s displeasure, the whole job thing, so they throw the towel in. Like omigoodness, there’s so and so in the supermarket, duck, he might see us. More is the pity. Maybe one day, we will all grow up and learn to be nice about leaving a job. It isn’t the end of the world.

T Ram Kishore is a Delhi-based writer. For comments, write to

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