David Sedaris Can Fire Everyone (and So Can You)

by Evil HR Lady on December 7, 2020

Humorist David Sedaris tried to be funny writing about firing, but he fell flat. He begins:

During this difficult time when so many Americas are looking for work, I’d like introduce an idea for something I’m calling the “citizen’s dismissal.”

It’s like a citizen’s arrest, but instead of detaining someone, you get to fire them!

Take this lifeguard at a WMCA I went to: I bought a guest pass so that I could swim laps, and ten minutes after I’d started, the young woman blew her whistle, calling, “You all have to leave now!”

“How come?” I asked.

“I have to go to my parent’s house,” she said.

I thought I hadn’t heard her correctly. “I’m going there to do some laundry,” she told me. “And then I’m going home.”

“Oh, you’re going home, all right,” I wanted to say. “Because you are fired!” 

Okay, David, you want to fire people who don’t perform the way you want them to. (And, I suspect, that since this was the YMCA, swim time was scheduled to end, and he hadn’t paid any attention.) He also complained about wanting to fire a cashier who didn’t have bubble wrap. The cashier doesn’t choose if there is bubble wrap available.

Guess what, David? You can.

How? Well, when you have someone working for you, but is not directly your employee, you truly have an at-will situation. But, the key part here is you’re at will as well. You can “fire” them by refusing to work with them again, or they can fire you by refusing to work with you again.

So, David, you don’t like the employee who closed the pool (probably as scheduled)? Fire her by never going back when she’s working.

You don’t like the cashier who didn’t have any bubble wrap? Never come back through her line.

You don’t like the way the restaurant down the street makes burritos? Fire them by never returning.

See? It’s easy.

What you don’t do (and what you should not do) is try to get the person to lose their job because you didn’t like it. You can complain to that person’s boss, but chances are, the employee will be following the boss’s instructions in the first place.

But, here’s the deal: You may get fired as well. See, your relationship is also at-will. If you’re an obnoxious jerk, you may find yourself unable to use both the pool and the store. You can “fire” the cashier for any reason you’d like. There’s no prohibition even against racism, sexism, or disability discrimination when you’re the customer terminating your relationship with someone else’s employee.

But, if you ever say it outloud, hopefully the business will fire you as a customer.

So, David, you’re free to no longer work with anyone you wouldn’t like to work with. But, you aren’t free to stop all forms of their income. You aren’t free to demand their employer act on your whims. You can control your relationship with this employee, and that’s where it ends.

Also, why didn’t anyone tell him this piece wasn’t funny at all?

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