You're walking along, you casually glance in a Currys window and you see something shocking. That's stage one. Stage two comes soon after, as you realize that the gargoyle in question is actually your reflection. I don't know what stage three is, but because I know it's coming, the suspense is agonising.
Two Avaya headlines have given me the heebie-jeebies this week. First, Avaya intends to 'cut the dead wood' from its channel (I can't help but sympathise with the doomed VARs in these cases). Then came another brutal threat, that Avaya was about to 'blow the lid off the grey market'.
What have the older members of the channel done to deserve this? At last week's partner summit in Berlin, Jeremy Butt, the worldwide channel VP, promised a new channel order.
Now, since I did my back in, I've been feeling about 94 years old and I'm particularly sensitive to stories like these.
To make matters worse, I recently overheard an IT manager for a big corporation tell his friend: "It's a nightmare at work. I've been told to manage out as many people as possible."
To 'manage out' people is to constructively dismiss them. Or at least persuade them to leave, without wanting to bring up redundancy. 'Manage out' indeed. How ghastly. That's got be the final stage of my horror triumvirate, surely.
Big corporations would argue that Christmas is a great time to make lay-offs, because you're giving that person the perfect excuse not to buy anyone a present.
Maybe now it's time to go self-employed or open that shop you always dreamed of. If so, there seem to be two options on the market: Moonfruit (about whom I've written before) and Actinic - a web based service which claims to be even easier.
Let's be honest, Christmas presents are a complete waste of money anyway. You might as well just put the cash directly into the tax haven of choice for the retailer you bought the doomed present for anyway.
Wouldn't it be great if you could buy your loved one a service instead? Whether the service was a massage, some hypnotherapy or just a plain old cloud-legacy systems integration ("How romantic! That's just what I wanted") at least you could be sure of one thing. You'd be stimulating the local economy. And helping the service providers to 'add value to the channel'.
And isn't that what Christmas is all about?