By now, you’ve probably seen the video of Marina Shifrin quitting her job via interpretive dance, along with the somewhat unimaginative response from her bosses. And although most of the commentary directed at Marina has been largely “yee-haw!” and “you go!” and “stick it to the MAN!” I have a different point of view.
Surprise! Hated it.
We’ve all had shitty jobs. I’ve been called fat, ugly, and clumsy. I’ve missed Christmas parties because of someone else’s missed deadlines. I’ve been stuck outside in a thunderstorm that turned a beige dress pornographic right before meeting the head of my division. I’ve pulled all-nighters for things that at the time seemed like a total waste of my undergrad education, time, and abilities. Too much PowerPoint and adding color graphs of nothing relevant to pointless, jargon-enriched new business pitches, really?
But you know what? Those pitches—and our success with them—decided my job and the jobs of my coworkers. They weren’t pointless: If we didn’t win any, the company would go under.
Maybe that’s a sign of getting old: I sympathize with my former bosses. I mean, I don’t agree with or understand everything they did and do and I never wanted their jobs which should have been a clue I was in the wrong place from the get-go...but that’s not the point. The point is, I understood that they and the people above them were accountable for keeping things going.
I dealt with it.
I also think quitting like this is flat out rude. What happened to classy? When I quit my first real job, I was terrified. I thought there would be confrontation. The night before, I my rehearsed my quitting script until I was satisfied, did visualizations of my boss’ office in which I would give notice, and played Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Will Do You Good” on repeat. Overkill? Inflating my own self-worth? Maybe. But a little fear is good: The things that initially scared the shit out of me are the things I’m happy to highlight on my resume.
And that boss I’d been so scared of? Totally understanding.
Regardless of whether or not quitting frightens you, have some fucking professional courtesy. You know what you do when you decide to quit? You man up. You face the person, in person, to whom you are quitting—and if he or she is out of town that day, you find that person’s supervisor, you find human resources, someone, anyone. You have a resignation letter prepared. You give your employer two weeks’ notice, but be prepared to walk out that day. You treat them with respect, or at least politeness.
(Or do you leave that to your parents?)
Same goes for your colleagues. I don’t know Marina’s backstory, but if she upped and quit and left her coworkers in the lurch having to pick up her obviously herculean workload, that’s just shitty.
I think an attitude of entitlement runs rampant in today’s job market, especially among those relatively new to it: the assumption that only fascinating projects, jazzy titles, gobs of money along with the most flexible of hours and the best colleagues ever will consistently manifest themselves—simply because they are somehow deserved.
And I see where she’s coming from. Hell, we’ve all wanted to do something like this at one time or another, so that takes balls. But it’s also completely unprofessional.
The good bosses listen to you, value your opinions, and mentor you. The bad ones...well, we’ve all been there. But whether your boss is nice or evil, I can guarantee you one thing: he or she has other concerns besides you.
Like keeping the place running.
And all the dance videos in the world aren’t going to change that.
Carin Moonin is a writer living in Portland, Ore. Sometimes she'll even tweet about things she hates at @carinwrites.
Screen grab via YouTube