October 03, 2011
A lot of Americans are getting what are known as "pink slips" these days.
They're losing their jobs because of plant closings, the move of operations overseas, downsizing of companies' workforces, or sometimes just because the boss decides that someone else could do a better job.
However you get the news, it hurts, especially when you see how many others are "on the street," as they say - unemployed and also looking for work.
What does one say to someone in this position? How should one express condolences, encouragement and support?
Hallmark, the nation's largest maker of greeting cards, has one answer. It has come up with a series of cards that you can send to those who have lost their jobs.
Sympathy cards of a sort.
Some of them take a lighthearted approach. "Don't think of it as losing your job," one card reads. "Think of it as a time between stupid bosses."
Others are more serious. "It's hard to know what to say at a sensitive time like this," reads one cover, beneath the illustration of an unemployment line. Inside is the message, "How about ‘I'm buying,'" as in, offering your friend a meal or a drink.
Hallmark says the cards are selling well. The owner of a gift shop in Dallas, Texas, told CBS television that "they're flying off the shelf." Someone else told the network that, in these days of impersonal email and mobile communication, getting a card in the mail is an extra touch that would be well received.
But the cards have been mocked by many online commentators. They're actually insensitive, they say, compared with in-person expressions of support.
Other observers go so far as to say that in the current economic environment, it would be better to send a suddenly unemployed person the $3 you spent on the sympathy card.