Pink slips

It Was a Monopoly Game Run Amok

“Pink Slips and Parting Gifts” by Deb Hosey White is a work of fiction.  It says so on both the front and back cover of the book.  But if it is a work of fiction, why does the story seem so familiar?  Perhaps it is because there is no dearth of stories about mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies in the papers these days.  At any rate, for the casual reader, “Pink Slips and Parting Gifts” makes for an interesting, informative, and even amusing read.  But for those lucky readers who are still gainfully employed in a mid size or large corporation it is just plain scary!

The plot of “Pink slips and Parting Gifts” is simple and direct.  The Easton Company was a Fortune 500 company that had been around for a long time.  Its late founder had employed thousands of people who believed as he did that the community was important and every employee mattered.  The company’s charitable works in the Washington, DC area were well known and had earned the founder the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In short, The Easton Company was as American as apple pie—until its new CEO decided to sell the company.

There were a variety of reasons why selling The Easton Company was a very bad idea; but the CEO, Jeffery Elkins, had 91 million reasons to do so.  $91 million dollars was the amount he would receive in benefits if the sale or merger went through.  It was an offer he couldn’t refuse; especially since he himself fashioned the offer.  It doesn’t take long to figure out where all this is going.  As a matter of fact, there is a major clue in the dedication page which reads, “For the generations of American retirees and workers who have unfairly lost employer-sponsored health benefits.”  This, in a nutshell, is what happened to employees of The Easton Company after they lost their jobs.

Author Deb Hosey White chronicles the demise of The Easton Company from a variety of points of view across the spectrum of its employees.  From the hard working administrative assistants and mid level managers to the maintenance personnel and even the corporate pilot, each had a story to tell and each were victims of the culture of greed and mismanagement that emanated from the front office.  Writing from several points of view is never easy, but Ms. White does so easily, moving with agility from one story to another, all the time retaining the readers’ attention.

At the same time, her narrative has a “been there, done that,” feel to it which is no doubt due to her more than thirty years experience working for Fortune 1000 companies where she lived mergers and acquisitions from inside the conference rooms, cubicles and executive suites of corporate America.So, who should read “Pink Slips and Parting Gifts?”  A paragraph on the back cover says it all, “An estimated one in five corporate employees has experienced a merger or acquisition.

Pink Slips and Parting Gifts is their story —the one every corporate cubicle jockey, business-class road warrior and mid-level manager will want to read.”  I respectfully agree!

Reviewed for Reader Views by Ron Standerfer (October 2009)

Ron Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today,and the Honolulu Star Advertiser. For more information on this or other posts he has written please contact him at bookreviews@ronstanderfer.com or visit http://www.ronstanderfer.com/.

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