The shredding secretary and the unrepentant embezzler
August 11, 2010 3:00 PM   Subscribe

In the wake of high-profile "take this job and shove it" reenactors Steven Slater and Jenny Fictional, New York magazine sought out some other amusing walkouts.
posted by GrammarMoses (29 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Needs "apocryphal" tag.
posted by dersins at 3:09 PM on August 11, 2010

The classiest goodbye I ever heard of was a friend of my dad's, who spent the last twenty years of his working life in a small office in a city building, doing a job he didn't much like but which paid well enough and which let him spend his weekends doing what he really loved, which was butterfly-watching in the countryside. Man loves his butterflies. But he didn't quit; he stayed there for year, after year, after year, watching the clock tick down towards retirement.

And at his retirement party on his last day, when everyone else was gathered around to say goodbye to him, he didn't show up. All that was in the room when they got there was a blank envelope, containing a card with no writing inside - just a picture of a cage with an open door. He was already an hour away, driving down to the New Forest with his camera round his neck and his butterfly notebooks on the passenger seat.
posted by Catseye at 3:10 PM on August 11, 2010 [43 favorites]

I'm flabbergasted that anyone calls Jenny Fictional a "hoax." That's like calling Star Wars a hoax.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

That's like calling Star Wars a hoax.

Star Wars is totally a hoax. Don't believe the MSM. Han shot first.
posted by mhum at 3:24 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

Jenny Fictional is disappointing to me as she does not appear to be a part of any stock photography library and I was so sure that was what she was.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on August 11, 2010

I'm flabbergasted that anyone calls Jenny Fictional a "hoax."

No kidding. The storyteller never lies. When did people get so gullible and ... desperate?

Hey she got her 15 min. I lol'd. Kudos. Move on.
posted by elendil71 at 3:28 PM on August 11, 2010

She is no Steven Slater.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:40 PM on August 11, 2010

> And at his retirement party on his last day, when everyone else was gathered around to say goodbye to him, he didn't show up.

Your dad is my hero. I skipped my farewell party at [insert name of Canadian governmental agency here], minus the cool card. I'd politely told my boss I didn't want a party when I left*, but when the happy day arrived she happened to be on vacation and I guess she didn't pass the message on. As lunchtime drew near I could tell the traditional pizza** party was being set up, so I tracked down the second-in-command and told her I'd specifically requested NO PARTY. "But we already ordered the pizza!" she said. I invited her to enjoy it on my behalf and told her I had alternate lunch plans and wouldn't be returning for the rest of the afternoon. Then I cleaned out my desk and left as the pizza arrived. Felt pretty good.

* because there was no fucking way I was going to get up and give a bullshit speech about how sad I was to be leaving and how I'd miss everyone, etc.
** pizza courtesy of freakin' 3-For-1!
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2010

I worked in telemarketing for two weeks when I was 19. On my last day there, over the course of the daily cold calls attempting to sell some useless, expensive service from lists purchased from credit card companies, the urge to leave and never come back was growing exponentially. It was a few minutes before lunch, enough time for one more call. A little old lady picked up on the other end, and I mechanically went through the sales pitch. She sounded hesitant, and I was about to begin the second offer when my resolve to leave forever cut it off. I told her that I was selling a subscription service she would probably never use, that, even though she could cancel it for no charge in 30 days, the company I was working for was counting on her forgetting to do so, that this is why most of the sales end up coming from older people, and that I would very much enjoy chatting with her for a few minutes before I left forever. She thanked me for my honesty. I don't remember what we talked about from there -- probably mostly general topics: what's the weather like there, etc. Seven or eight minutes later, we ended our conversation, and I felt a little better about myself. Then I went to lunch and never returned.

Not terribly exciting, really, but at least I got a nice chat with a stranger out of it.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:57 PM on August 11, 2010 [20 favorites]

Not exactly a "take this job and shove it" story, but...

I used to work at a very, very large dot-com company. We hung on after the bubble burst, but barely. We'd all endured two years of monthly layoffs, being so broke and/or disorganized that we didn't have simple office supplies like pens and Post-Its for extended periods of time, and increasing managerial incompetence as good people wised up and left, to be replaced by idiots. We had already been acquired, the only thing keeping our new parent company from moving the entire operation was the office lease they were tied to.

As the final day arrived, a friend of mine decided that the best approach to deal with the stress of impending unemployment was to stay up the entire night before and drink scotch, then show up to work falling-down drunk, wearing nothing but a loosely tied bathrobe and I mean nothing. If I recall correctly, he did actually make it to his desk. Then he lit a pipe and started smoking it. I think that was the last straw, and he was escorted out of the building.

Total time at work: About 4 minutes.
Time he was paid for: 8 hours, just like the rest of the chumps who showed up sober and clothed.
posted by rollbiz at 4:05 PM on August 11, 2010 [11 favorites]

The Great Big Mulp, a friend of mine worked sales in a boiler room-like environment. They were selling financial services, instruments, investments, whatever.

He worked there about two weeks, and had a very similar story - he was on the phone to a potential client, when he broke. He told the client that the investments weren't really that good, that the whole thing was much riskier than it sounded. They talked for a while longer.

He said the entire room - about fifteen people - went dead silent as he finished the call. The boss walked out of his office and just stared. My friend finished the call, stood up, closed his briefcase, and walked out the door. Not one person said a word the entire time.

He wound up working at a retail computer outlet, quickly moved up the distribution food chain in the 90s, and made seriously stupid amounts of money. I mean fat stinking sick gobs of money.

I am a little envious these days.

I quit my last job by walking in and plopping myself down on the couch, and said, "I quit". The boss offered me a partnership deal, then he died from leukemia. I started my own shop. Let me tell you - don't open a construction related business in 2007 in Southern California. Don't do it.
posted by Xoebe at 4:13 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

[insert name of Canadian governmental agency here]

Elections Canada. Do not work in their warehouses, they give you absolutely no indication of how close you are to completing the project so you're never sure how long you're going to be employed. I was there through a temp agency, and was a shitty worker and a totally arrogant early 20-something by all accounts. When I found a new gig, I decided I'd do it the right way and phoned the temp agency and gave 2 weeks notice. My temp-handler said she would let the people at Elections know.

She didn't, but I had no idea. We had a real douchebag of a supervisor, and at lunch I went and dropped off my security pass on his desk. When he finally noticed, he comes up to me while I'm unloading the contents of a box (my job, your tax dollars at work) and says "you can't just drop your security pass off and say you're quitting without giving any notice." I was surprised because I thought I'd given notice, and told him so. He basically ignored it and was really being an asshole about it in front of everyone. He kept saying "I want to talk to you in my office." We had a bit of a history, so I told him I'd prefer to just skip it and finish the day and leave and be done with it. Now he says "you've got some attitude." Which was true of me at the time, but still--I'm not sure why he thought he had this type of authority over a temp who'd just quit. I was shaking I was so mad now. I kinda blew my top and threw this pack of Elections forms I had been pulling out of a box at him and told him to F off and angrily walked off for the door. It was only like 10 pages, nothing that would hurt anyone, just really disrespectful I guess. As I'm walking out the door, he yells "GET OUT AND DON'T COME BACK!" I couldn't help it, I yelled back "that was the plan!" The experience doesn't actually feel good, I remember being kinda nauseous.

I got a call from the temp agency after that and they told me off too despite the fact this all happened because they forgot to tell Elections I quit. God I hate temp agencies, buncha crooks. Great, now I'm all mad again.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:07 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

And at his retirement party on his last day, when everyone else was gathered around to say goodbye to him, he didn't show up.

I'm sorry, that's a dick move.

He was presumably aware of the plans enough to get a card ready, but couldn't be bothered to let people know they should just skip the whole thing?

"Classy" is not the word I'd choose.
posted by madajb at 5:15 PM on August 11, 2010

After one day, they came out and admitted it was a hoax.

And her name is Elyse Porterfield.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:29 PM on August 11, 2010

Jenny Fictional

They didn't even have the decency to name her Jenny Talia? Buncha crumbums.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:55 PM on August 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

More stories!

"On my last day I was a heavily sweating man of indeterminate extraction, possibly Mexican. The day was beautiful and polite with a hint of rosemary in the air from the construction down the road. I stole a crane, climbed the wire and slid down it dressed as a drunk businessman, singing patriotic songs. Then I kissed my boss on the lips and jumped out the window. He was a terrible kisser."
posted by Sebmojo at 6:03 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I still think this is the best way to leave a job.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:13 PM on August 11, 2010

No "shove it" involved, but a really nice exit:

When the company I worked for was acquired by another back in 2006, they started letting a lot of people go. Being a smallish place, they treated their employees really well, and everyone who was being let go was getting something like a month of severance for every year they'd worked there. The receptionist had worked there for twenty-five years. AND she lined herself up with another job in the same building before she'd even had her last day.

Obviously not particularly sad to be walking away with an enormous paycheck, when her last day came, she brought in a big cooler filled with ice and Coronas and left it in the break room. VERY cool.
posted by Jinkeez at 7:50 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Aha, I still even have the photo of the cooler!
posted by Jinkeez at 7:55 PM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm legally enjoined from discussing my best quitting story.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:19 PM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Several years ago, was temping as an admin assistant in a real estate office and got an offer to go permanent. Needed the money, so said yes. There were two attorneys in the office; I was admin to one, another lady was admin to the other.

The whole place just had a weird vibe to it though; like the lights always seemed too dim, and there weren't any pictures on the walls the way you'd expect in an office. It was too quiet. Nobody joked or seemed relaxed; people seemed to look over their shoulders and be jumpy. There was this sort of oppressive feel to the place. I tried to shrug it all off; I needed the money.

The last Friday before my first Monday as a fulltime employee, I walked out to the parking garage and saw the admin for the other lawyer drinking some kind of alcohol straight out of the bottle as she sat in her car.

That was the last straw. I called the agency Monday and said "Sorry, I can't." They were pissed, but I've never regretted it. Nothing good was going to come of that job.
posted by emjaybee at 8:23 PM on August 11, 2010

I think what's going on right now is a symptom of the broader economic problems this country faces. Everyone looks at the issues the unemployed face. For example, not having any money.

But the recession hurts the employed too. The GDP level economy has 'recovered' but far to few employees have become reemployed. How did that happen? Well, it's because "productivity" has increased. And how did it increase? In part companies got rid of their least productive workers (whether because they were genuinely unproductive, or because they worked for departments without good products)

But beyond that, they are simply working their employees harder. And since the unemployment numbers are so high, you can't just quit because there's no way to know how long it will take to become reemployed. Essentially you've got the "lay off half the employees, and make everyone work twice as hard". In fact, at Harley Davidson, for example they're literally making people work overtime, despite having fewer workers. And no one can complain (well they can complain, but they can't quit) because getting another job won't be easy.
posted by delmoi at 10:31 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

At the last day of my previous job, I wistfully waved goodbye to all the folks I really liked at my small company and got into my car loaded with all my possessions and left the city I'd fell in love with to move down to Texas to be with my now wife. Wait, did I do this wrong?
posted by kmz at 11:55 PM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've seen a couple of great meltdowns at work, but the best was the coworker who snapped one evening, trashed the office, and then went outside and wrote his name backwards in urine on the boss's ground-floor window, in the hopes that the next day the sun would glint off it as a final fuck you.
posted by cmonkey at 2:13 AM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Great Big Mulp: Despite that you think your story isn't very exciting, I have added you to my list of personal heroes.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:20 AM on August 12, 2010

Around about the turn of the millennium, I worked in a call center for a major telephone company's internet service, doing 56k dialup tech support.

One day I overhear the following from the guy in the cubicle next to me:

"Good morning, thank you for calling [redacted].net. May I have your user ID please? ...Thank you, and your telephone number? ...Thank you, and what are you wearing?"

"...I'm sorry ma'am, you'll have to speak more slowly, as I don't understand a word of English."

"...No ma'am, you cannot speak to my supervisor, because as of ten minutes ago I don't actually work here."
posted by rifflesby at 6:30 AM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

So I'm sitting at work with the knowledge that I need to turn in my two weeks' sometime today. This thread is probably not what I need to be reading. On one hand, I've done a good job and it's nice to have references.

On the other hand, I really want to just jump out of my seat and shriek "THAT DOES IT, I'M GOING TO WORK FOR THE GAYS!" the next time my boss says something even slightly homophobic. There should be an opportunity about 1.7 times today, if the past several months have been any indication.
posted by honeydew at 7:38 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I one particularly soul-crushing job, I swore that on my last day I wouldn't be satisfied unless I was escorted off the premises by security. When the day finally came, I just left. I was too relieved to care about drama.
posted by Legomancer at 7:49 AM on August 12, 2010

There are stories that go around Silicon Valley about engineers quitting with gusto. One light an aerosol and used it as a flamethrower on his boss (Sun). One nailed a 2 by 4 across his manager's door (Cisco). Probably all true.
posted by mdoar at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2010

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