Fearing His Firing, Man Hires Emotional Support Clown to Attend Work Termination Meeting

By now, you may have heard of emotional support animals. After all, they’re prevalent enough that one major airline carried over 24,000 ESAs in 2015. But what about emotional support clowns?

It may sound funny (or not, depending on your specific phobias), but apparently there’s at least one supportive circus performer out there who doesn’t mind being a shoulder to cry on. And, like canine and feline support systems, this clown was there for a particularly trying time in someone else’s life.

That’s the story that made viral headlines, anyway. According to news sources, Josh Thompson — an Australian-borne ad copywriter living and working in New Zealand — knew he was on thin ice at his job. Only five months into his position at a communications company called FCB New Zealand, Thompson received an ominous email from his employers. Short and to the point, the message said: “Bad news. We’re having a meeting to discuss your role.”

While there are roughly 11 million meetings that take place each day throughout the United States, the majority of which occur without major incident, Thompson had a hunch that this particular meeting wouldn’t end especially well. But the aspiring comedian was prepared — and he decided to be proactive about making sure the potential firing went as smoothly as possible.

Employers often provide significant perks to employees for the sake of retention, job satisfaction, and overall company culture. Although printer and copier costs are usually the third-largest office expense behind rent and payroll, that doesn’t stop employers from springing on extras. In ideal environments, employers will take worker preferences into account and make changes to accommodate their overall well-being. Since more than half of all employees surveyed complain about too little private space in open offices, some business owners will structure their workspaces to ensure everyone can work to the best of their ability. And even if staff members don’t have emotional support animals, they might even be allowed to bring their pets into work.

New Zealand takes worker well-being one step further, as the nation actually requires employers allow their workers to bring along someone to support them in disciplinary meetings. While this rule isn’t common in the U.S., it’s certainly something that could improve morale and even stop unfair treatment in the workplace. Of course, being something of a clown himself, Thompson decided to make a bit of a joke out of the whole thing.

Speaking to a local news outlet, Thompson explained: “I thought it’s best to bring in a professional, and so I paid $200 and hired a clown.”

And so, Joe the Emotional Support Clown accompanied the soon-to-be-axed copywriter into his meeting, all the while making balloon animals (and quite the ruckus, as he was asked to stop the squeaking sounds several times). When Thompson’s bosses handed over his termination paperwork, Joe mimed crying as the bad news was finally delivered.

Interestingly, Thompson’s supervisors didn’t seem to mind, though some in attendance found the entire ruse amusing. And even if they did object to the tactics, no further action could be taken against Thompson that could make things worse.

But it looks as if Thompson won’t need to worry about hiring his emotional support clown anytime soon. He’s started work at a new communications firm — where his new bosses told a news outlet that they’re “terrified” by clowns. With any luck, his new position will be a better fit and no one will have to wear a red nose and large, rubber shoes to one of his meetings again.

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