The Employee Who Resigned Via Cod and Other Tales of Dramatic Resignations

0 columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues–everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

When an employee resigns a job, the process is usually relatively mundane — a meeting to deliver the news and a discussion of how to wrap up items they’re working on — but occasionally a resignation is more memorable. I asked readers to share the most dramatic resignations they’ve witnessed, and here are seven of my favorites.

1. “One guy quit and left up an out-of-office message with stupid quotes from all of his bosses and seniors over the year – attributed to them by name. Because our IT is so notoriously bad, it took well over a week from them to fully disable his account so that the out-of-office stopped being sent.”

2. “The summer after my first year of college, I worked at a call center doing cold-call sales. One of my coworkers ripped off his headset one day, screamed ‘I QUIT, THIS PLACE SUCKS’ and stalked out. He got in his ancient Nissan minitruck, put it in gear, and attempted to drive over the landscaping between his parking spot and the driveway. He bottomed out trying to drive over a bush, got stuck, and ended up having to come back in and ask for help pushing his car off the landscaping from the coworkers he’d just staged his great exit from, his face a particularly remarkable shade of vermilion.”

3. “I stuck it out a survey call center for six months while I finished my degree and got a better job, but lots of people didn’t. One day a woman next to me just left. I wasn’t paying much attention, but she left her jacket and everything so I figured she’d gone to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later a manager came up, looked around, and left a nasty note on her keyboard. Another 20 minutes later, he asked me if I knew where she’d gone. We looked at her stuff and it looked like she had left her jacket and just her purse – like, none of the stuff in it, she’d taken her wallet and phone. And left the other stuff as a ruse to give herself a good headstart on us, I guess?”

4. “I worked in high school at a mismanaged grocery chain that is now out of business. I was a cashier but they had a 16-year-old girl working behind the fish counter (which was illegal) and who was not being paid properly for the work she was doing (because she wasn’t supposed to be doing it!).

On Sunday, the beginning of the pay period, she clocked in, wrote ‘I QUIT’ in cod, haddock, and tilapia filets in the seafood counter, and clocked out. She framed a photo of her masterwork and her last paycheck for $2 and hung it in her bedroom.”

5. “I’ve been a member of an online message board for several years. At one point, one of the other board members announced he was going to quit his job at a grocery store and asked for suggestions on how he should leave. Not expecting him to take me up on my suggestion, I recommended that he have a little parade, driving one of the motorized shopping carts down the frozen foods aisle, with lit sparklers attached to the front and a boombox on the back playing something jubilant (‘We Are The Champions’ or some such). As it turns out, he took me up on the suggestion, had someone record the whole thing, and we got to watch a very happy ex-employee escort himself out at about 1.5mph past the Hungry Man dinners.”

6. A colleague’s good friend had been wooed up by my company for a good 6 months. He was utterly qualified in ways we needed, a very nice guy, the perfect employee. Alluring phone calls, escalating propositions, nice dim sum lunches, they went all out. Finally, he accepted, and a starting date was set.

We had flextime at that company, meaning every waking hour was spent there but you could pretty much choose when to be awake. Alas, that particular week a couple of us (I’m one of the guilty parties) had particularly gnarly personal things to deal with before getting to work, and consistently didn’t make it in before 11-12. And equally alas, we were on the West Coast in financial services, so we already started the day ‘late’ by market standards, and to add to this the CEO was a fanatical morning person. Normally he left us to it, but this specific week he was in a bad mood, and got riled up by our seeming slackness (partly caused by staying at work way past his bedtime, but that’s another story).

So he did what you repeatedly warn not to do: instead of dragging the culprits into his office and giving them the personal drubbing he thought they deserved, he wrote a memo to everyone. So on his second day that Second Coming Guy meandered in to work, at a reasonable 10ish, and he found a memo on his chair saying something like ‘I’d like to remind y’all that technically your working hours are 8-5, and that you really should be here as close to that as possible blah blah blah.’ He raised his elegant eyebrows, said in a not overly loud but very clear tone of voice, ‘Oh, I can’t deal with that,’ delicately put the memo back on the chair, and walked out, never to be seen again.

Nobody was ever reprimanded for their hours again at that place, not even a hint.”

7. “When I was a supervisor at a well-known retailer, an employee in the garden center was reprimanded for something or other. He became so incensed that he went to the corner of the garden area, dropped his drawers, and pooped on a pallet. Then he quit.”

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