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Telltale signs you're losing your job

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To buck up the morale of America's dispirited and dwindling work force, The Wall Street Journal reported on how to divine hints from management of impending layoffs.

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For example, when her boss suddenly stopped talking to her, "Ms. Finberg knew something was up. Three months later her job was eliminated."

One boss said that he intentionally left targeted employees out of the loop, not inviting them to key meetings and ignoring their e-mails. Other little tricks were to assign an employee's projects to others and to leave their names off congratulatory e-mails. It makes you think that maybe the Bolsheviks had a point.

In the same spirit of helpfulness, we'd like to offer our own guide. So, with companies shedding jobs, here are some telltale signs that the next one to go will be yours:

You are asked to set up a branch office in Somalia.

Your office issues brand-new Dell XPS M1530 laptops to the staff. But the boss says he thinks you'll be happier with this Commodore 64 that turned up when they cleaned out the supply closet.

Coming back from lunch, you notice a pile of filing cabinets marked "personal and confidential" on the sidewalk. They're yours.

Your company car suddenly sprouts a pizza-delivery light on the roof. The boss says the company needs additional revenue streams.

On a whim while out on the road, you call your office and ask for yourself. A voice identifying itself as you answers.

The office changes your phone to an unlisted number -- and won't tell you what it is.

You return to find a stranger in your office. He insists he's had that same office since 1999. Your co-workers back him up on it. He insists those pictures on the desk are of his family, not yours. Your co-workers back him up on that, too.

You go to print out a letter and then you notice your name has been painstakingly whited out on the letterhead. And on every sheet in a 500-sheet box of letterhead.

Your business cards have been pasted over with a sticker identifying you as "Josh 'Sparky' Knoffel" and your specialty as "multiplatform content provider to the 12- to 24-year-old demographic." Your name is Harold and you are in accounting.

Your invitation to the office Christmas party had the wrong time, date and location. But partying with the Screaming Skulls motorcycle gang at a roadhouse called Vermin's wasn't all that bad until they set fire to your car and left you on the highway naked.

You arrive at the office to find the locks have been changed and the lights are out. You bang on the door and although you can hear scurrying and whispering inside, no one answers.

You begin to think that Mogadishu, despite the anarchy, murderous tribal and religious wars, piracy, random violence and lack of electricity and running water, might not be such a bad place for a branch office after all.

The boss asks you to drop off a couple of pepperoni and mushrooms on your way to the airport.

-- McFeatters is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service.

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