pureBS summary: If you lose your job, think of this as an opportunity to re-invent yourself; friends and family can help you find purpose in life.
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were fired from your job? Or, a major, traumatic event happens in your life and, through no fault of your own, you can’t work any more?
What would you do? What would it feel like?
George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a profession job fire-er. (I’m sure he has a better job title than that, but you get the drift: he’s a consultant hired by companies to fire people so that managers don’t have to do the dirty work themselves.)
Very real issue with some very interesting life lessons. Very close to home.
Clooney has a great line in the movie:
“Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world sat where you are right now. And it’s because they sat there, that they were able to do it. That’s the truth.”
He goes on to tell Steve as he fires him to take the day, and get together his personal things.
“Tomorrow, get yourself some exercise, go out for a jog, give yourself some routines, and pretty soon, you’ll find your legs… This is just the beginning.”
Here are some good strategies to try when you get fired:
Strategy #1: Exercise.
Strategy #2: Set up routines so you don’t get lost (in despair.)
Strategy #3: Think of this as an opportunity to re-invent yourself.
No one wants to get fired. But, the movie pitches the idea that this might be your opportunity to chase your forgotten dreams.
In the middle of the movie, Clooney fires Bob, a 90K executive played by J.K. Simmons
“How much did they first pay you to give up on your dreams? …And when were you going to stop, and come back and do what makes you happy?
“I see guys who work at the same company for their entire lives… guys exactly like you. They clock in and they clock out, and they never have a moment of happiness.
You have an opportunity here, Bob. This is a rebirth. If not for you, then do it for your children.”
Bob leaves, reflective of the future.
How does it feel when you get fired?
Shitty. Real shitty.
I think some of the most powerful lines of the movie are delivered by real people who were recently fired.
Apparently the producer advertised for people who were recently got fired from their jobs. There people who actually got fired, were filmed reenacting their firing.
- This is what I get in return for 30 years of service for my company?
- You have a lot of gall, coming in here and firing your number one producer and then you’re going to go home tomorrow and make more money than you’ve ever made in your life, and I’m gonna go home without a paycheck.
- I guess you leave me dumbfounded. I don’t know where this is coming from. How am I supposed to go back as a man, and explain this to my wife, that I lost my job.
- On a stress level, I’ve heard that losing your job is like a death in the family. But, personally, I felt more like the people I worked with were my family, and I died.
- I can’t afford to be unemployed. I have house payments. I have children.
- I don’t know how you can live with yourself, but I’m sure you’ll find a way while the rest of us are suffering.
- I’m done? Just like that?
- I wasn’t expecting this. Not at all. This is not fair.
- I’m disappointed that I’ve given so much of my life.
- There are going to be people who are way more qualified than me now.
- I don’t know what to do when I wake up in the morning tomorrow.
Raw, emotional, honest responses from real people who got fired.
At the end of the movie, some of these people who got fired talk about their thoughts for the future. Cue some nice upbeat acoustic music to play in the background.
- Well, I don’t have a lot of hope, and I don’t know when it’s going to get better and I really don’t know when there’s going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. (1:42:10)
- I can’t find much to talk about. Talk about being proud? I’m proud of my kids. Let me get up. Let me get out. Let me find something. So my kids are my purpose, my family.
- I think the anger comes from the fact that, uh, I just wasn’t needed anymore. It would have been a lot tougher if I would have had to make it on my own.
- I would say, you know, uh, without my friends and my family, I wouldn’t have made it.
- When I wake up in the morning and I look over and I see my wife, uh, that gives me the sense of purpose.
- It’s not all about the money. Money can keep you warm. It pays your heating bills, you know. It can buy you a blanket. But it’s not as… it doesn’t keep you as warm as when my husband holds me.
So, it looks like we have another tip for what to do when you get fired:
Strategy #4 Family and friends can help give you a reason why.
A reason why you need to get through this.
A reason why you can get through this.
These are tough times. Can’t stick around for that.
All in all, there are 22 different terminated employees listed in the credits of the movie. Nicole Laporte interviews some of the people on thedailybeast.com as they talk about “unemployment, the catharsis of telling their stories onscreen, and new directions.”
Strategy #5 Remember it takes time to get back on your feet.
Some of the real people who were fired were able to find work and start to rebuild their lives. Others were still unemployed at the time of Laporte’s interview.
Cozy, one of the interviewed women realized that “something had got to change” after losing her job at a chemical company.
- She ended up working to launch her own landscaping business.
- “I would never have done this, had I not lost my job. You’re too scared to quit what you know to go in a new direction…”
Arthur talks about how “when you lose your job, you lose your life.”
- He tells his story about working for 30 years with Chrysler, and then getting fired.
- At the time of Laporte’s interview, he was still unemployed.
Kevin had an interesting quote: ” I made a decision as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight: I can sit around and wallow in my misery, or get up and do something. Much to my surprise, I chose to sit around, and crash and burn.”
- Kevin was a director of engineering and design when he was let go.
- For 18 months, he was unemployed and racked up over $38,000 in credit card debt.
- Eventually, he was able to find professional work, albeit entry-level.
Andy was in automotive retail when he was fired.
- He said filming “Up in the Air” was “kind of therapeutic” because he was able to say the things he didn’t have the opportunity to say when he was let go.
- Other interviewed people were trading stories about how long they’d been out of work and how they lost their jobs. Kind of like therapy.
- In the end, Andy relocated his family and was able to find other work in a different industry. “We’re starting to live our lives again.”
Erin talked about losing her job in advertising.
- “It’s hard to not take it personally if you’re still a person and someone’s telling you, ‘We don’t want you right now.'”
- In the end, she was able to go back to a previous job that she had.
- Her husband, who also lost his job, had to find work out of state.
Watch Up in the Air movie for free
Up in the Air is available on Amazon Prime. And, Amazon Prime offers a 30 day trial subscription which includes Prime Video.
So, sign up for Amazon Prime, watch the movie for free, and then cancel your Amazon Prime subscription if it’s not your cup of tea.
(Personally, I kept my Amazon Prime membership, but that’s another story.)
WARNING: If you did just get fired, or you’re feeling the weight of the world, you might not want to watch this movie just yet. Here’s why…
Just want you to know that even though there are some good talking points in this movie, there are a few scenes that might throw you a curve ball.
- A character named Steve at the start of the movie gets fired by Clooney and they show a few scenes of what could have happened because “people do crazy shit when they’re fired.”
- A character fired by Natalie Keener (played by Anna Kendrick) calmly reveals her plans to jump off a bridge. Later on, we find out she does, and this is the reason why Kendrick’s character quits the company.
- The movie doesn’t really have a happy ending. Clooney’s character takes a risk and gives up everything at the climax of the movie to follow his heart, only to discover his love interest is unavailable. The movie ends with Clooney lost up in the air… but this time, he’s not the carefree, empty-backpack, wanderlust character that he was at the beginning. It’s a little bit tragic. We see Ryan’s character looking at the departures board: “Tonight, most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day, and tonight they’ll sleep. The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places, and one of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.”