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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

New Word Department

The company has completed a wage management initiative that will result in the separation of approximately 3,400 store Associates. The separations, which are occurring today, focused on Associates who were paid well above the market-based salary range for their role. [Emphasis added.] “Separations.”

That’s how Circuit City, perennial also-ran to Best Buy in the electronics superstore wars, chose to describe ‘people getting fired’ when revealing yet another turnaround plan last week in a press release quoted above.

“Separations” certainly sounds much softer than “firings” or “layoffs.”

Even “downsizing,” which has for years been the euphemism of choice among corporate officers taking, on the one hand, multi-million dollar option packages for their own good while, on the other hand, “downsizing” the hourly work force and shifting production elsewhere, now appears too harsh.

Could be that The Office has made “downsizing” a much scarier word by revealing, in its hip, sardonic way, that “downsizing” means real human beings lose their jobs.

In any event, “separations” may become the new euphemism of choice. After all, as with marriages, “separations” is optimistic: it implies a temporary split, intimating a possible reconciliation at some future point.

Perhaps those Circuit City employees who have been “separated”—fully 8% of the entire work force—will indeed come back to Circuit City after a time. Like a contrite, philandering spouse, they may come to admit they had it too good for too long, and will accept their old jobs at newer, lower wages.

In which case, “separations” would be entirely accurate.

But I suspect it is not. Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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