I'm an intern/Co-Op at a company. I became fairly good friends with our HR manager. She started about a week after me (3 months at time of post). Yesterday she was fired, very near the end of the day (i found out around 10 after 5). I sat with her and tried to make sure she was alright and such while she packed up her office. The whole time she was very insistent that i know exactly what she was packing up, and how it was all hers and not the company's.

One of the other department managers was hanging around outsider her office the whole time, I assume for that reason. Now, eventually, she is finished, and i hang with her in the lobby while she waits for a co-worker's meeting to end to say goodby. I was supposed to leave at 5:30, but the HR manager didn't end up leaving until 5:45, so I stayed until 6 to make up the 15-ish min. of work time the company lost.

Anyway, the other department head didn't follow us to the lobby. When i was returning to my desk, i saw him and he gave me a thumbs up, and thanked me. I was very confused, until someone thanked me again today and I realized that i had basically been drafted into helping fire my friend.

I'm really not sure what to do in a situation like this. Since then, 2 other people (one of whom is my boss's supervisor) have thanked me for my help that day, and another 2 have come over to tell me that I shouldn't have had to do that. What is the proper response to a situation like this?

Edit (summary): I'm a co-op at a company, and ended up being put in a position where i was acting as a 'watchdog' over a friend of mine who had just been fired. Someone else from the company had been keeping an eye on her, until i had come over to chat and make sure she was alright, at which point that other person left. I didn't think anything of it until some people started thanking me for helping, or telling me I shouldn't have had to do that. I'm not really sure what to say/do/how to respond in a situation like this. Does anyone have any advice?

  • 1
    +1 for question and both answers thus far. Whoever downvotes really should explain...
    – Krista K
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 21:06
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    Could you make your post a bit clearer, specifically with a summary (perhaps in bold) and a more descriptive title? It's hard to follow right now
    – Rarity
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 21:08
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    I agree; I'm having a hard time figuring out what the specific, answerable question or problem of use to future visitors might be.
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 21:24
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    As an HR person she's no doubt aware of ugly situations that arise occasionally when an employer accuses a recently fired employee of stealing stuff. One reason the employer might make this accusation in the USA is to prevent the employee from getting unemployment insurance, which increases costs to the employer. I'm sure she appreciated having you there to verify what she was taking out of the building. Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 23:24
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    I don't see how you helped fire anyone in what you wrote above. That would imply that you had some hand in making the decision to fire the person. You just sat with them while they packed, they were already fired!
    – user718
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


You weren't drafted to help fire your friend, you helped her leave gracefully. People thanked you and that should be the end of it. You did what you could to help someone you liked and other people noticed that you probably took the brunt of the emotional storm she was feeling and were happy that they didn't have to. As far as I can tell from your story, you were not forced to do that by the company. So ignore those who told you you shouldn't have had to do that, you chose to do it. Say "you're welcome" to the ones who thank you. Then move on. There is no other action you need to take.

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    Telling someone they shouldn't have had to do that usually doesn't mean exactly that; it usually carries some other meaning. It's possible they are trying to deflect any feeling of expectation or feel awkward about what happened.
    – Nicole
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 21:39
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    @NickC, good point
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 21:50
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    @acolyte - I don't see how it matters. The person was your friend but you must realize something she was fired for a reason. You are only an intern at the company. The only person's reasons for helping your friend that matter are your own.
    – Donald
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 15:09

You don't have to have a response. Ambiguity is your best friend in this situation. Correcting your boss's boss's interpretation of events makes you look like you're not a team player. Don't endorse the false perception of your role, though. If you do, you look like you're the type that will buddy-buddy with somebody and then stab them in back if the timing is right. Most people can see right through this, anyway.

Also, you have no idea what they were thanking you for. Getting fired is difficult for anybody. Egos are bruised and savings are drained. Senior managers frequently realize this, and as such they might've just been thanking you for being around during a difficult situation.

If the HR manager thought you were monitoring her desk clearing to ensure she didn't destroy vital records (steal pens or whatever) then she probably only thinks of you as a "work" friend and you're in the clear. Also, don't take her response personally, either. She's just been fired, which is an emotional experience.

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