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Wednesday November 25, 2015
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Back to Work



As Borders struggled to survive, "Layoff Day" became a ritual at its south-side corporate headquarters. In the morning, the targeted workers would be called in by their supervisors, who read from a prepared script. The building then filled with the sharp, ripping sound of packing tape as people clearing out their desks sealed boxes of personal possessions.

Leaving for the last time, "we all walked past the receptionist we passed every day," Kalchik recalls. "It was wildly diverse how we handled it. We're weeping, we're crying, or else we're stoic."

Kalchik cried. "I was devastated," she says. "I loved that job."

Kalchik had started as a part-time clerk at a Waldenbooks store (then owned by Borders) in suburban Pittsburgh in 1987. Married and the mother of two young daughters, she later moved into full-time work, then into management. Divorced, she moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 as Borders' senior manager of store operations. Her job was to make sure the hundreds of U.S. stores were running smoothly. "We told them how to open, how to respond to guests' concerns. We worked with the merchants so they knew how to sell the book," recalls Kalchik.

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