Declaring Myself “Free at Last”

When I first sat down to write, I had every intention of covering the end of the year and all the beautiful and tragic things that have happened in the world. If you haven’t seen the year in pictures that’s been making the rounds on Facebook, I would recommend taking a peek. I still remember some of the images from 2010 and the effect they had on me when I first saw them.

Instead, I’m distracted as hell because I’m preparing to quit my job in the next few hours. There are lots of reasons why this is not the most rational decision, but at the end of the day, I’m not certain that reason is the most important factor at the moment. Why on earth would I quit my job now? Here’s why: 1) I want to work in the world in a way that helps fewer tragic photos, like some that were featured above, be taken; 2) Life is too short to waste the good years; 3) I’m moving back to Boston to finally go home.

At the moment I have an attention span of roughly 45 seconds and my stomach feels like I swallowed a paper-weight. Most of this is self-inflicted because I’m terrified of letting people down, which is why I haven’t already quit. See, I direct a program for a nonprofit and I’m the only one who knows what my job is, meaning that while I have a lot of  security in my position, I am also under a lot of pressure. My boss is always asking me not to get hit by the proverbial bus because he won’t know what to do. Yikes. I’m pretty clumsy and have always had questionable luck with busses.

Whether the bus takes me out or I simply quit, the issue is that I’m stuck under the weight of my fear to actually just leave. Well actually, I was stuck, but now I’m not. Because I’m quitting in two hours and 43 minutes (Holy Shit). While I’m excited to leave a job where my contribution doesn’t really matter and our efforts as an organization aren’t terribly effective, I have to say that I am so very grateful to have been employed. I’ve learned so much in the last three years that will undoubtedly help me transition to an organization where I can work more closely with a cause that I believe in. I’ve always wanted to fight for the disenfranchised and to wear myself out by helping people, not by beating my head against a desk.

So, dear readers, I would love to hear the story of your most memorable escape from a job that you didn’t like. How did you decide to leave and how did it turn out?

12 replies on “Declaring Myself “Free at Last””

I quit my last job about two months ago.  I was clerking for a solo practitioner lawyer and the job was hideous.  I knew from the beginning that it probably wasn’t going to last, but with the job market (even for students like me) the way it is, I was lucky to find something that paid at all.  Even though I was WAY underpaid for the Chicago market and it was only part-time.  The job got worse and worse.  The secretary made sloppy mistakes which I had to take the blame for.  My boss gave me directions which I followed to the letter and when they didn’t work out the way he wanted them to, he would yell at me and tell me I “should have known what he wanted.”  He called me during my commute one day fifteen minutes before I had to be at work, yelled at me for dawdling and told me to get into the office because of an emergency.  I ran the last half mile to the office building, got up the slow, fifty year old elevator to find out that he needed me to buy a plunger for the toilet.  Except that the toilet had been fixed already by the building super.

The last straw was when I came in so sick and on so many kinds of medicine that I was pretty sure I was hallucinating things.  The sloppy secretary took a long lunch break and begged me not to give her away.  So I couldn’t run some papers down to the courthouse because I had to cover the phones.  I couldn’t even talk INTO the phone, of course, because I had lost my voice entirely.  The next day I came in and my boss called me out on my mistake.  When I tried to explain, he cut me off and told me it was clear to him that I had been faking sick and had just been lazy the day before.  He then switched modes entirely, told me I was a great employee, but I was too efficient so he was going to cut my hours in half.  (The real reason?  Golf season was over, so he didn’t need to pay me to work anymore since he could be in the office.)

I packed up my desk, walked out and never went back.  I cried and freaked out all the way home.  What if news of my bad behavior spread?  What if I’d made the wrong decision?  Why didn’t I grab my box of tea in the work kitchen cabinet??  When I got home, I smelled something burning.  Turned out that I had left my curling iron on and it was under a pile of clothes.  If I hadn’t quit my job, my house probably would have burned to the ground.

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