...My introduction to this new type of tissue culture came after 19 years in a job I loved at a small pharmaceutical company (although in this first case no one actually offered me any tissues). Having been at the company for such a long time, I felt I had some job security. But I found out how wrong I was when the company was sold. Part of me understood that losing my job this way was “just business,” but I still felt a deep professional and personal loss. Nevertheless, I determinedly set out to find a new job, where I hoped I would have an equally long and satisfying tenure.
I landed a job that I was excited about, a director position at a large pharmaceutical company. I genuinely enjoyed it and was looking forward to my future at the company. But, late one afternoon, about 2 years after I had started, the medical director and human resources (HR) representative escorted me to the HR office. The walk, in silence, felt funereal. When we arrived, the HR rep pushed a box of tissues across the desk in my direction. I knew this was going to be bad. She explained that my position was being eliminated in a reorganization....There is a funny aspect to grief, emotion and the American workplace. The HR people don't really want you to use the tissues - they don't want you to start crying there, nor do they want you to scream aloud. Rather, the tissues (just like the whole [redacted] ritual) are saying "We are pretending to care about your feelings, even as we are cutting you off from your living and our community of fellow workers."
(NB I don't know what the right way to do layoffs is - I've heard lots of different stories and they have all seemed rather humiliating, some more than others.)