Give 30 years of your life to a company, no severance; drive a company into the ground, get millions
I worked in retail for about twelve years. I started out at the local lumberyard after I got out of the Army, loading trucks in the yard. I worked my way up to counter sales, and eventually manager of retail operations for my location. It was a thankless, soul-sucking job, where customers treated you indifferently on most days, like a doorstop on others, and as their personal punching bag when they were having a bad day. When Home Depot moved in and I was laid off, it turned out to be a blessing.
The takeaways I have after working in retail are many. But the one that stands out is that, if you fail in your job and you are a rank-and-file employee, you will find yourself out of a job. I went through two store managers at the location where I finished my retail career before Home Depot moved in. Both were let go for lagging sales brought on by a corporate office that raised prices and did not take into account variations in regional markets.
If you are in outside sales and your largest contractor has a heart attack and dies, you are shit out of luck if you cannot find new business to replace that contractor. If the housing market goes belly-up, you could find yourself out of a job, even if you have worked there for 20 or 30 years, without so much as two nickels to rub together.
But if you are an executive of a large corporation, well, you can drive that company into the ground and come out with a bonus.
Sears, currently going through bankruptcy, is one of those large corporations. Gross mismanagement has driven what was once the largest American retailer, the anchor of malls across America, out of business. Gone are stalwart brands like Craftsman, sold off to Stanley Black & Decker; Lands’ End, being split off into a stand-alone company; and Kenmore, being either sold off or scrapped in a last-ditch effort to raise capital.