Quitting is looked at as such a cowardly act of throwing determination and perseverance out the window in favor of comfort and familiarity. Growing up, I found myself either quitting things that I found too daring, scary or difficult, or avoiding them altogether.
But there comes a time when you can’t quit. You have to sit and face your fears whether you want to or not. I learned this lesson from my dad years ago when I was a kid, and while it is tempting to quit now and then, I have, since that experience, found myself more willing to try and stick with things even if the immediate incentive isn’t there.
With maturity and experience I have understood that everything is not going to be handed to you. It isn’t going to be a wonderful day every day and sometimes you have to pay your dues in order to get ahead. And while a younger me would feel safer and more comfortable by saving himself the embarrassment of failing, I began to see the reward of sticking something out even when at first it was too daunting to see the end.
Recently, after consideration that has really been on my mind for several years, I decided to quit my part-time job. Having just finished my Master’s degree, I was now on the hunt for the job that would help build my career. But that was only a small factor that played a role in my quitting. Truth be told, I stayed at job that was making me miserable for far too long.
My plan was to stay through the summer where I could be in town for my brother’s wedding and then kickstart my life by venturing to a new city and in a career that I’m sure would be difficult, but rewarding. Things don’t always work out the way we plan them.
Instead, after new circumstances showed me on a deeper level how dysfunctional my workplace was, I had the “straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back” moment. I quit. I made the decision without much hesitation. My rose-colored glasses were off and I truly saw how I had been working at a place, wasting my time, talent and energy for far too long. I should have left years ago – and this isn’t to toot my own horn and make myself sound perfect – merely the opposite. I’m human, I make mistakes, but I always own up to them, work on it and come back giving more effort than I did before.
In my opinion, my boss (who out of respect for him and his business I will not name) did not run a stable work environment. One that after six years pushed me to the point where I needed out.
I did my best to never show up late, even though there were times I was. I tried to not be glued to my phone, even though there were times I’d text my friends or send some snapchats. I’d try to not call in or take a day off, even though there was mono and surgeries along with conferences and trips around the country.
But whatever my flaws, or minor annoyances, I came in everyday to my job, and went above and beyond. If shelves needed to be stocked, I made sure they were stocked full. If we were busy and cashing out customers was the priority, I wouldn’t leave my post at the counter. If other projects like dusting wine racks or moving inventory was what needed to be done, I’d be ready to volunteer. I also found that I became a quick learner and was the point person when a customer had a question about any wine or spirit. Even with the most difficult customers, I tried to grin and bear it.
I got to be very well-versed in the world of retail including sales and customer service. It was a compliment to my studying marketing and communication. I tried to find new ways to make my experience be a tool to help grow myself, both personally and professionally. I had suggestions of how to make the workplace and the overall shopping experience better, but it would fall on deaf ears time and time again. Truth be told, my boss never allowed any of his employees to grow. There was no culture or morale, there was never ambition or the desire to take on a challenge. It merely became a job, for mostly everyone there, to just pay off your bills and hopefully put some money in the bank.
When you have a boss who not only lacks being a mentor, but lacks any form of leadership, you know you are on a sinking ship. Our boss never cared in the slightest about his workers. His work week consisted of leaving before the second shift arrived so he didn’t have to deal with any problems. He would leave a handful of twentysomethings to run the store on the busiest nights of the week. But as I will say a little further down, it was those handful of twentysomethings that ended up saving his business.
It wasn’t just the absenteeism of our boss that was a reason for my quitting. The issues piled on one after the other. Problems became bigger and more visible while solutions became nonexistent and hopeless.
After six years of being employed there, I noticed the depths of inequality mainly seen in scheduling and wages. I was paid less than employees who worked there for a shorter period of time, who also created problems in the workplace. There was also a disparity in scheduling and when asked if something could be done, it either fell on deaf ears or only resulted in a very short-term adjustment, only to fall back into the same cycle.
There was also never any sort of reinforcement be in positive or negative for any action – good or bad. If an employee came in late, he wasn’t reprimanded, which allowed one staple employee to show up five minutes late for his weekly shifts. There was never any positive reinforcement when an employee helped out a customer, who complimented management, which gave the employee no incentive to keep the good work up.
All the terrible trends that led me to leave resulted from a complete absence of communication. When you wanted to talk to the boss – if he was even around – you would have to talk to him through his locked office door, or maybe when he was smoking outside. There was never any performance review to let you know what you were doing well, what could be improved or what you needed to stop doing. Although whenever an issue occurred we would find a note taped to the counter to read. There was never any plan really of what to do for the day. It was the initiative of five twentysomethings – or as I call them, Millennials – who really ran the business day in and day out. I’m sure if we were able to take our boss out of the equation the business would run smoother and probably thrive. I may be biased because I think Millennials are going to change the world. But I saw the potential of what could’ve been done, and it was never capitalized on and that was a missed opportunity to say the least.
With no morale built within it seemed we were never working together, merely just working. The bonds that we built we did through our own will, which I think speaks to how good of people we are – especially when there was no reinforcement or incentive through our management.
What made me stay was those friendships and the money that helped pay my bills. But the friendships didn’t need the workplace to thrive, because they were really built on their own fruition. And the money wasn’t incentive enough as I tend to be a huge saver and could afford to be without a paycheck for a while.
The job became completely unfulfilling and when that happened, together with the complete lack of leadership, communication and fairness, I knew it was time to leave. I have now been given the time to spend with family and friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, but most importantly I have the time to look for the job that will allow me to start my career. For that alone, I am thankful. I left before I would allow it to steal any more time and happiness from me.
I understand that not every workplace is perfect and that there are sure to be things and people you don’t like. But this job was a complete war zone. I would rather bite the bullet now and learn the lessons of what I would expect from a workplace, and in turn, what a workplace can expect from me, than to stay at a job whose only function is paying the bills.
As a Millennial, it’s scary to be unemployed, especially starting out your life with student loan debt, in addition to car payments and your regular bills on top of it. But even with those fears, when I quit I instantly felt relief. I felt as if a million pounds were lifted from my shoulders and I still feel the same today. If anything was a reassurance it was knowing that I still tried to talk to my boss about the issues I felt were unjust. And after ignoring me and walking away, I still gave him a notice – a notice he forbid me to work. After six years of good work that I gave him, I was treated like I released the bubonic plague.
I would normally self-reflect and wonder what I could’ve done better and why my boss was unwilling to hear me out. To me, I knew I would never get a straight answer. After all, my boss allowed people who stole money from the store to stay employed there – another issue of the workplace (I think I lost count of all them! – but here’s a list of the most common reasons good employees quit). He even let people who quit on a moment’s notice come back when their new employment didn’t last that long. But for me it was a different story. Maybe the nice guy does finish last, but somehow on this one, I think I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Call me the quintessential Millennial – I won’t put up with dysfunction and not even money can tempt me to suck it up. I’d rather put fulfillment and good work as the reason I stay in any career and I won’t settle until I find it. More than that any organization out there knows what they will get from me: a hard worker, who communicates well, is honest and doesn’t compromise his integrity, one who supports and nurtures the relationships he encounters and one who is willing to challenge himself and wants to grow both as a person and a professional. Not to mention, a great storyteller and one with a great sense of humor. Most importantly, even when I feel the camel’s back is about to break, I will still try one last effort to seek a solution.
A person can only spend so much time trying to fit a round peg into a square board before they realize they are bigger and better than the board itself. This may be the only time I say this, but I am happy I quit. While the job hunt is a daunting one, I know all will be well, and where I land I will be better off, working even harder to make it all happen.