NPF: THE REAL AMERICAN DREAM

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.

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22 thoughts on “NPF: THE REAL AMERICAN DREAM”

  • I work in unemployment adjudication. I've heard so many that they all run together. But god damn, some people know how to make an exit. Then, beautifully, they file for unemployment, and a few of their cases come to me.

  • Sorry, no. All I have is a long list of people getting fired for no apparent reason by asshole bosses who decided the poor sap getting pinkslipped on the spot was a good candidate for a power play and demonstration of "employment at will."

  • Before leaving an Entomologist position I had taken straight out of college, I had had this redneck local boy (who was part of the old school power families) that was a field supervisor hound me for years saying to me in this long Florida Cracker drawl "Gary, you're going to be here the rest of yo' life" once he heard I was looking to move on.

    Upon accepting a Director position at another District, I was given a going away party, and of course was asked to give a speech…in which I spoke to this guy in front of the whole staff saying "Stanley, you're going to be here for the rest of yo' life" in an almost perfect impression of his Florida Cracker drawl, and it had everyone in stitches.

    Wasn't exactly to my boss but it was about as good.

  • Anyone ever see the Reno 911 episode where there's a misprint of lottery tickets and several of the cops come in to "quit"?

    It's too funny.

  • duquesne_pdx says:

    Try again:

    This won’t be your best one, but it’s the best one I have.

    Back in the day I used to work in the warehouse of a software manufacturer (the company that mass duplicates software and puts the program in the box, not the developer of the software). In my first two weeks there as a temp, I helped one of the top guys make himself look like a fool in front of the plant manager. Let’s call this fool “K”. Fortunately for me, K wasn’t my boss, but he occasionally found ways to make my life difficult. Eventually, I got on to the night shift just to get away from the bs internal politics and get some work done.

    I got made the shift lead. K – through one of his cronies on day shift – started throwing me all of the guys they considered slackers, and my productivity kept going up. The warehouse manager was in hysterics (he hated K as well). I kept bucking for a promotion to shift supervisor (which entailed a raise and some actual authority to go along with the responsibility that I already had), but kept getting turned down. This wasn’t making me terribly happy, but in general, I liked my job and kept showing up every day.

    After about eight months, my boss came up to me and told me that he was getting ten new guys and that I was going to train them.
    Me: “I’m getting ten guys? Great!”
    My boss: “No, you’re just training them. They’re going on day shift.”
    Me: “WTF?”
    Boss: “We’re trying to increase productivity on the day shift.”
    Me: “Training guys is supervisor work. Training ten guys for somebody else’s shift is crap. Are you making me a supervisor?”
    Boss: “If it was up to me… I never told you this, but K says you’ll never be a supervisor as long as he works here.”
    Me:
    Boss: “Yeah…”
    Me: I’ve gotta get work done.

    So I went back and did my job. And bitched. A lot. A couple of hours into the shift, my #2 guy came up to me and said, “That’s messed up. They’re fucking you. If it were me, I’d walk.”

    And it occurred to me that I could. So I did. I gave my badge to my #2 guy, asked him to clock me out at the end of the shift, sent an email to my boss to say I wasn’t coming back and went home.

    That’s not the best part. The best part is when one of my friends at work called me up that morning.

    Friend: “Dude, they just had a meeting for all the warehouse. About you.”
    Me: “… the fuck?”
    Friend: “K came out and said that you were a ‘black cancer eating away at the morale of the warehouse and that we were better off without you.’”
    Me: “ROFL”
    Friend: “Yeah. After he walked away, boss said, ‘We’re fucked’, and walked away. End of meeting. Thought you’d like to know.”
    Me: “ROFLMAO”

    I got a call from management later that morning asking me what it would take to come back. I told them, “Supervisor, $3/hour raise and a public apology from K.” They said that I’d be a supervisor and they could swing the raise, but they weren’t sure if they could get K to apologize.

    I told them to get back to me when they could.

    Their productivity plummeted. The plant went closed six months later. And K was out of a job.

    That’s the best part.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    At another company I swapped the "S" and "D" key on one of the VP's computer keyboards. The help desk eventually replaced his computer.

  • grumpygradstudent says:

    I used to work as a stock boy in a grocery store. I did the traditional act on my last day: hide eggs all over the stock room.

  • "I bet one of you can top it."

    I wouldn't even try. It might not be like defacing a Botticelli, but it wouldn't be far off. Maybe a Rubens.

  • How's this.

    My buddy's girlfriend got into law school in another part of the country, so in moving away she would have to leave her legal assistant position at a notable Chicago law firm. (4 weeks ago)

    But instead of just giving them notice, she was too freightened/embarrassed to outright quit.

    So instead she concocts a wild story claiming she has become deathly ill and is getting a blood transfusion. Needless to say she couldn't work anymore.

    Problem is, as everyone but her would have expected but her, co-workers checkep up with her frequently as they were concerned for her health.

    She's been keeping this ruse up for about a month now. She's in so deep its getting sad. BUT SO HILARIOUS.

  • I once worked for a telemarketer. Four hour shifts at dinner time, interrupting people and asking them for money. After about 6 months of it, I couldn't stomach it any more.

    So one fine June evening I went on break, got on the bus and went home. Never called back, never looked back. They probably still owe me half a shift's pay.

  • This story is completely true. I worked with Ed at this wonderful little corner of the world for a few years. Let’s just say the cast of characters that inhabited this place would be a screenwriter’s wet dream. No matter how implausible the premise, this place could totally top it! Just imagine working in Mos Eisley at the Cantina bar in Episode IV of Star Was. This was life for Ed and I.
    TS was scary! What about the time an employee went on a bender and made off with a company car and we had to file a stolen vehicle report only to have him drop it off later that day funkfied. That was great trying to get the police to understand that we generally employ a bunch of idiots! That place was truly Hell’s ditch!

  • This is only marginally within the bounds, but it's the best I've got…

    On the morning of Sept 11 2001, my friend Steve's boss was very excited. She kept going on and on to everyone within earshot that she was sure it was 'those fucking ragheads' who had flown planes into/blown up the WTC (at this point, it still wasn't even clear that the whole thing wasn't a bizzare accident, or a bombing from inside, etc). And she was enthusiastic because this meant we'd get to go to war with 'all of them,' and kill…everyone in the greater middle east, I guess.

    So at some point, she wandered out of her office for a minute to spread the good news to the rest of the building. My friend gets up from his desk, walks into her office, and opens a new Word document on her computer. Her types out 'hte,' 'teh' 'adn' 'nad,' and a few misspellings of his bosses first and last name. Then he hit spellcheck, clicked the 'Add to Dictionary' button for each word, closed the file, grabbed all his stuff from his desk, and walked out of the building.

    Two or three days later, though, he realized he needed his job after all, and went back. Either no one had noticed he was gone, or they assumed he'd been too distraught to work, because no one said anything to him about his absence. So he just put his stuff back into his desk, and got full salary for the couple days he'd disappeared.

  • This story is shamelessly stolen from my boyfriend, but I'm just in awe of it, so I have to share. He was working a summer job at a large area garden store between high school and college, when the higher-ups informed him that his services would no longer be required after the end of the season. However, he was still expected to keep showing up for his scheduled shifts until that time.

    One day he was sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store in full uniform, including a branded shirt and apron. A customer approached him and asked, "Do you work here?"

    He gave the customer a withering look and replied, "No, I just come here to sweep on the weekends for fun." With that, he threw down his broom, walked to his car, and left. And never went back.

  • Knew a guy who worked for a soul-killing architecture firm–one day he'd finally had enough. Went to lunch and never came back. Didn't call in, didn't e-mail, nothing. The best part? The principal who was making this firm a soul-killing place is now a convicted felon for offering bribes to design public buildings.

    And from my personal file, it's not really so much as an "in your face" quit as a "feel good" quit. Here's the deal: I was working as a temp paralegal while waiting to see if I might get called up to be a tour guide in Europe for one of 3 bike tour companies. I was put on a long term project, but told the supervisor that I might be leaving because I might get called up to work as a tour guide. She gave me this look like "yeah, right, sweetie. Keep dreaming." I also told her I had a vacation planned before I got the long term assignment, which was fine. So I went on vacation and lo and behold, I got an e-mail offering me a job as a tour guide. In Europe. In two weeks. So I called and told the supervisor I wouldn't be back. Felt so good.

  • These are tame, but I loved them.

    I was working at McDonald's (I know). After working my ass off for three months at $3.35 an hour, I finally got a raise to $3.40 an hour at my first performance review. WOO! A few months later at my second performance review, the manager gave me a "needs improvement", which meant no raise. That same day an old co-worker told me "they're hiring cooks over at the mexican restaurant starting at $5.50 an hour!". I told him thanks, walked to the back of the kitchen and told the manager that I quit. Felt amazing!

    Almost identical thing happened at a check factory later. I was making about $6.50 an hour and was the only one in the entire factory who knew how to repair equipment (not my job, but I taught myself out of necessity). Eventually I asked for a raise based on the fact that I was repairing the equipment (again… not my job) and was the only one who knew how. They declined to give me a raise, so I said "Then I quit". Best decision ever!

  • I was fired because my boss, despite being a real rainmaker for the company, had just taken it all a little too far- the drugs, the drama, the insubordination, the fake appointments (which I had to cover for) so she could de-hangover or go ice-skating with her kids, or whatever. We worked in teams, so when the head of a team goes, it's normal for the minions to get hoofed out too. My big bosses told me repeatedly that this was not the case, but it turned out that they were just buying time trying to replace her, and me. Anyway, at 11am on the day in question, I'd gone downstairs to the accounts dept to ask about some expenses I'd filed on behalf of my ex-boss, when the bean-counter I usually dealt with nervously told me that my severance cheque wouldn't be ready until after lunch. Putting 2 and 2 together, I remembered that I had a meeting with the big cheeses at 3pm, so I rang a good friend and told him the axe was falling- he was also a client. We met for lunch, and by the time I arrived, bless him, there was a bottle of champagne open and drugs to share. After 3.5 hrs of very expensive (though sadly not fried) seafood and intoxicants (all charged to my company Amex) and a new job offer, I wandered back to my office to tell my friends at work that I was getting fired (despite all the bs to the contrary) and the location of my pinkslip bender that evening. At 3pm sharp, I went downstairs to my meeting all hammered and listened to them waffle thru the usual horseshit before stopping them and saying, "yeah, yeah, just give me my damn cheque". I was then escorted to my desk to clear my things and I said lengthy, affectionate goodbyes to the people in the office I'd been friends with, and walked out of the office a free woman.

    The story has a happy ending (not that kind) of sorts. My best buddy at the office was the big boss's executive assistant, she was also quitting to return to Australia with her husband, so her parting gift to me was "accidentally" sending the boss's private credit card bill (the one he charged all the La Perla lingerie and fancy hotel bills from his mistress) to his home address, rather than the office. Big Boss and Mrs Big Boss got divorced sometime later and I hear she scalped him good.

  • This is more of a WTF? than an 'I quit', but I thought you might enjoy it.

    When I began work for the Federal Government in 1984, the chief of our department had a secretary. She had worked there (in one area or another) since 1964. She was quite good at secretarial duties, but was also both mentally ill and quite unpleasant. It's a powerful combination.

    Flash forward to about 1994. She's got thirty years and qualifies for retirement with full benefits (also owns her own, paid-off, house). We would all like for her to retire, as she hasn't gotten any more pleasant to work with over the years. But she doesn't want to.

    1998. She has a stroke at the office. We had an intern at the time, who called the emergency in. We told him later that he had almost certainly saved her life, but we were willing to forgive him for that. She suffers an unspecific but considerable amount of brain damage. We all sigh. Goodbye.

    A few months later, I walk into work. I hear 'Hello, Robert' and turn. Crazy secretary is standing there, looking a little crumpled. I almost scream. She'd signed herself out of the skilled nursing facility where they'd been teaching her how to walk and talk again, and come back to work. It got really creepy for a while; she would scream imprecations at her office-mate (an inoffensive young woman from Bangladesh) for having brought a foul-smelling bag lunch to work, among other things. And, needless to say, she was no longer a very good secretary.

    She was offered a choice – retire with full benefits, or be fired for gross imcompetence. She asked for a few weeks to think about it, while she continued to come to work. Her lawyer finally directed her to take the offer.

  • 1982…Richmond,VA…summer break at VCU and I'm working for a temp agency as a flagman on a road resurfacing project Cool gig, I've been at it for 4 days and Friday evening comes around with its predictable traffic snarl on West Broad St. I'm working a major intersection with a lot of pissed off commuters taking gratuitous shots at my somewhat dubious traffic control strategy; let the biggest vehicle thru first. I wave a 10 wheel dump truck thru the intersection and a small foreign car runs my red flag. The dump truck ran clean over the hood and the driver of the car emerged screaming at the black fellow driving the truck, using language that might have been acceptable in the 40's. The truck driver gets out of his truck, all 6' 10" of him, and the little white pansy screaming imprecations locked himself in his wrecked hulk. I slunk off to my 1973 Pinto, lit a joint and hit the road. Retired from traffic control on the spot.

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