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I’ve only ever had to resign from one job in my life and that was some six years ago. My mum typed up a letter for me which I nervously threw on my boss’ desk then skulked away and hid for five hours until he found me. So it’s safe to say that I haven’t had a lot of experience in the field of quitting and when it came time for me to give my notice at my current job, I was petrified.
My dream outcome for my resignation would have involved my boss coming out of her office and gently saying “you look like you want to resign today Phoebe and that’s not a problem, fare the well loyal employee”. Given that I am utterly petrified of my boss and am a massive chicken with a personality profile that lends me to never want to directly upset anyone ever, that’s not how it went down at all.
I had spent weeks going back and forth between friends, family and my own conscience trying to decide just how much notice to give and when to actually drop the ‘Q bomb’.
It’s like breaking up with someone really isn’t it? You don’t want to do it on or near their birthday or any other major event or holiday like Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s day… okay, maybe that last one is just me but nobody wants to be dumped on St Patties, trust me.
The entire week was spent with me walking around like a crazed person practicing the words in my head and running through the scenario; “We need to talk, I’m leaving London” no that’s not right it’s far too blunt, “I need to speak with you privately about a sensitive issue” no that sounds like a CIA or STD related thing, how about “I’ve been deported” maybe not so good for my reference.
I found myself on conference calls scheduling project due dates and future meetings well past my secret leaving date, nodding about a system implementation for the following year and the ongoing saga of new staff recruitment, ‘tsking’ in all the right places and making notes.
A few agonising, sleepless days later and it is show time. Naturally the tube is working perfectly and there are no delays or queues of any kind so I make it to work in record time. As I walk into the building my hands start shaking and I break into a fear-fuelled sweat, slick with dread.
I push open the office door and stride in, certain everyone can see my knees wobbling. Thankfully my boss hasn’t arrived yet and I have a few moments to steady myself at my desk and assemble some manner of calm about me. I’m trying to distract myself with normal thoughts like “why is my stapler so shiny?”… hold on, that’s not a normal thought at all!
When my boss arrives my heart rate rises, my pulse racing and my heart feel like it is about to explode out of my neck and chest. She walks into her office and I go to get up, then she’s out again and I sit down. Again she enters her office and I stand up but no, she’s out again. This cat and mouse game continues for some 15 minutes as my anxiety grows and grows.
Finally she walks back into her office and I grab my notebook and pen trailing behind her, the moment of truth has arrived. I am hoping that I don’t have to say it, maybe she will just know and I can get off the hook. As I whisper the words “can I have a minute?” I see her expression change.
Immediately her face is filled with concern and I am overrun with dread and an ice-cold river of fear runs down my spine. “What’s wrong?”, she says, “Is something the matter? Are you okay?”. “No” I reply “I have to give you my notice” and then she asks me the inevitable question… “Why?”.
It is at this pivotal moment that I am overcome with emotion both happy and sad, a huge sense of relief and what I can only imagine is sheer joy. In one of the most humiliating, hilarious and utterly ridiculous but typical moments of my life, I burst into tears and like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I whine “because I’m not happpppyyyyy” and then proceed to blubber further.
A resignation is not the time for tears, definitely not. If you’re resigning then it’s neither the place nor the time to commence crying and blubbering to your boss because I’m sure they don’t give a rats about your personal wellbeing now that you’re leaving them.
Despite this I continue to cry in a completely undignified and unexplainable way as my boss tries to uncover the reason behind my sudden emotional implosion. “Is it Matt?” she questions and I pause momentarily, in between sobs I splutter “No…. he’s amazing” and then, overrun by further emotion and love for the man, I commence my one woman pity party again.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with me at this stage, I suppose it’s just an outpouring of pent-up emotion but it’s not winning me any friends.
I try to pull it together, smooth my hair down and launch into my rehearsed speech of reasons why I’ve resigned. We reach the end of our discussion and she asks if I would like to tell my colleagues “No”, I say, “I think you should do it”. “Okay”, she responds, and then proceeds to stand up, walk out of her office and declare loudly to the entire staff “Everybody gather round we need to talk immediately”.
NOW? You’re going to do this to me now? Not less than two minutes ago I was leaking tears all over your desk and carrying on like an absolute pork chop while you nodded sympathetically. Clearly I’m feeling a little emotionally fragile today and need a bit more time to get myself together, could we not wait a few hours or, I don’t know, maybe five minutes?
The entire office is looking at me then looking at her then back to me again waiting to hear confirmation of what’s running through their minds. My bosses announcement of my resignation is met with an appropriate amount of ‘oh no’s’ and ‘such a shame’s’. Then there is silence hung on pitying looks and one of my colleagues turns to me and asks “Why”?
It is a fair question, but of course I’m more emotional than an American Idol contestant and immediately break into tears again, pushing out the words “Because I’m not happppyyyy” in between my pathetic sobs followed by “Don’t look at me” and then retreat back to the safety of my soon-to-be ex-desk.
It is without a doubt the worst quitting in history, though it has definitely gone better than my last one seeing as my boss didn’t have to come looking for me only to find me cowering in a supply cupboard. No good can come of crying when you quit, let me tell you this. If you’re planning on quitting soon then take heed people, because nobody wants to see or be a crying quitter.