NPF: THE REAL AMERICAN DREAM

Posted in No Politics Friday on August 13th, 2010 by Ed

Two of the stories most prominently making the rounds on the internet (or should I say "series of tubes" in honor of Ted Stevens) this week were a JetBlue flight attendant flipping out and quitting his job and a girl quitting her job via email pictures while revealing some embarrassing facts about the boss's web surfing habits. The latter turned out to be a very successful publicity stunt from a previously obscure website, but that doesn't change the underlying reason for the story's popularity (aside from the time-honored marketing technique of hot girls).

In a nation with 15% unemployment and 300 resumes for every job opening, the fact remains that we all spend a lot of time fantasizing about quitting our jobs. Some stories have gone so far as to call Mr. JetBlue a "folk hero" for quitting and telling everyone off. When we say "Good for him!" it means "I sure would like to do that, but I lack the balls and/or the money." But a good Quitting My Job story makes us feel like someday we might do the same. Ha ha, I'll show my incompetent boss! I'll tell those annoying coworkers a thing or two! The customers can kiss my fat ass!

And then, of course, we trudge into work the next day and put up with it in silence.

My point is not that we are all cowards or hypocrites, because certainly I understand the appeal of a little harmless daydreaming. We would all like to live in a world in which we could quit a job and reasonably hope to find another one before we die, and we'd also like to think that we are clever enough to quit with a flourish. So today's assignment is: best Quitting Stories, be they your own or one of which you have first hand knowledge.

Let me offer one, although it requires a quick back story.

When I was all of 23 I was managing a "financial services" company, i.e. a collection agency, and a team of debt collectors. Debt collectors are either unflappably stoic, tough SOBs, or aggressively insane. One gentleman on the team, who I will call TS here, was flat-out terrifying. Best debt collector I've ever seen. I shit you not: 6'7", about 400 pounds, and nuttier than a squirrel turd. He was black, and let me try to explain how much he scared the living shit out of white people at insurance companies who owed him money. Anyway, he comes into work one day wearing a large knife on his belt. Like, a fucking machete. Big. We proceed to have the following conversation after half the office runs for the fire exit, figuring that he has finally snapped and decided to murder us all:

Ed: "Uh, TS, what's that?"
TS: (He sounded like Michael Clarke Duncan) "What is what?"
Ed: "That giant goddamn knife on your belt. You can't bring that to work."
TS: "It goes with this outfit. I ain't gonna use it on nobody."
Ed: "TS, you can't bring a weapon to work."
TS: "This outfit ain't gonna look right without it. It ain't a weapon, it's an accessory."
Ed: "I'm sorry to hear that, but…dude, you just can't."
TS: (With great sadness) "Alright, Eddie."

I slowly walk away. As I turn my back I hear "HEY! Eddie!" in his bullhorn baritone voice. I turn to face him. "Eddie," he says gently, "it is important to accessorize."

So, that's who we're talking about here. Anyway, every time he got paid he would disappear for like 4 days on what I can only assume was a fried seafood and intoxicants bender, which absolutely nobody minded because he brought in more money than Brinks. As long as he brought us bags full of cash his dozens of "eccentricities" were tolerated. One day he walked into the office and said "I quit" because I had politely asked him to start showing up before 11 AM. I tried to reason with him, noting that he was unlikely to match his considerable salary elsewhere. He leaned over my desk, getting his face about 12" from mine, and said "Eddie, this may come as a surprise to you, but I have other sources of income."

It did not surprise me.

But I did wonder, given his airquotes around "other sources of income." Bodyguard to an organized crime figure? Loan shark? Drug kingpin? Murderer for hire? American Gladiator? Really, all of them were plausible.

Not the best quitting story, but it's my best. I bet one of you can top it.