IT Employment

Quitting your job in a blaze of glory

A flight attendant quits his job in a big way. It's cathartic but is it the right thing to do?

It appears that a flight attendant was ticked off that an airplane passenger wouldn't apologize for accidentally bonking him the head with a piece of overhead luggage. So the flight attendant did what any normal person would do-he cursed out all the passengers, activated the inflatable escape chute, grabbed a couple of beers from the flight attendant's galley, slid down the chute, and escaped into a terminal at JFK.

If you're a working person and you read something like that, you think, holy moly that guy lost his mind. (That's your second thought. Your first one is how awesome it would be to quit your job by sliding down a big, bouncy sliding board on your way to pound back some beers.)

In other words, most of us have that little hidden fantasy of making some kind of "statement" when we quit a job, whether it's a nasty exit interview or finally telling your boss just what you think of him. (I did a video some months back about why these kinds of endings are not recommended. Although, this notice of resignation is pretty awesome.)

Here's the deal with nasty exit interviews: HR reps will listen patiently while you unload about what a terrible manager your boss was, see you off, and then never address the subject again. In a perfect world, that information would be dealt with in a meeting with the boss to discuss the accusations. But I'll be honest, that's a fantasy in and of itself. In all my years in the working world, I've never seen it happen. So, really, all you've managed to do is paint yourself as a disgruntled ex-employee.

The time to deal with a bad boss is while you're still employed and you have five or six other employees willing to back you up. In good companies, if a manager has a high turnover rate in his department, that will raise a red flag-after all, high turnover results in the outlaying of major funds, and that catches the corporate eye.

Clearly, our flight attendant guy had a few more issues going on if a lack of an apology from a customer caused such drastic action. My guess is that it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. But you can bet that as talked about as this story is going to be, it will not make airline passengers more polite. But it may keep the flight attendant from finding new work for a long, long time.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

190 comments
name holdout
name holdout

I went to the HR Manager and made him aware of the network administrator who said something that was very racist. He told me he would talk to him and our boss and he would apologize. Neither one of them apologized. A few months later I ran into one of my former co-workers who also quit because he make racial comments to her also. He is still employeed at the same company. I found out from other people I ran into the explaination why I left was not the reason I really left. Maybe I should have written a letter and given it to the owner of the company. Oh just for information I contacted the EEOC and they referred to two attorneys, one refused to take the case and the other wanted to go after them for abuse of employment hours. I asked how did that relate to the person who made racist remarks? They said it would be difficult to prove. I said no it would not there was a person standing in the same room as I was when it happened. I found out he is still employed there.

rhowelljr
rhowelljr

I walked out of my software engineering job on a Thursday afternoon. It wasn't nearly the sign off that the flight attendant made, but I had to do it. Smart or not, I've always believed in putting my money where my mouth is. The completely unreasonable (engineering chaos) situation I was in, demanded a strong protest. There was no one to turn to. It was exit or die for me. Shortly after I left, the Director of Software Engineering was demoted. I don't know if I had anything to do with that (I'm sorry if I did - I still liked him and everyone there), and I don't know if things are really much better. (I've heard they are maybe a little better.) Leaving a very high paying, senior staff-level software engineering position - that I loved, at a prominent company, without another one waiting, is a serious step. But, staying on would possibly have ruined my health. Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do.

lord_beavis
lord_beavis

But none the less, at a previous employer, the number of people leaving a particular managers area did catch the eye of HR and they pulled the remaining employees in to see what was going on. And, they did move that manager to another area. Yes, I was one of the folks that had left.

jck
jck

Takes more than just a few co-workers to back you up. I have a situation where I could get my boss for breach of contract (since the state I live in says a verbal agreement is binding as a contract with non-biased witness) because I had a co-worker present at my interview where he laid down terms of employment with him. If I went forward with HR, there wouldn't be anything done tho. He'd get a slap on the hands and let go to figure out ways to make my life a living hell. He's already done that in a few cases. Unless the boss has done something illegal, I'd stay away from trying to get them in trouble. In fact, I wouldn't approach it unless I got a team of lawyers that said they could bleed the boss and your employer. Heck, we had someone who committed "lascivious" acts in the parking lot with another employee and got caught, and they didn't get fired. Although, I might go out in a blaze of glory when I leave here. Not like I'll ever come back here to live.

JoeyD714
JoeyD714

I am disgusted with how the media is turning this crybaby fool into a folk hero. He could've kept his cool & his job & had the passenger arrested, but he chose to throw a hissy fit, slide down the escape chute & got himself arrested. What a Moron! LOSER! He exposes himself as the one with emotional & anger control issues who needs help & counseling. He should NOT be made into a folk hero or any other kind of celebrity, he is a horrible example of public behavior & how to deal with stressful situations. Flight attendants are supposed to remain calm under all circumstances and be able to save peoples lives in the event of a disaster. This guy totally lost his mind & his professional bearing & deserves no ones respect or admiration. He should be punished severely so as to set an example of how NOT to behave in a professional & public environment. If He is not punished & continues to be made into a celebrity, then it will only encourage more people on the edge of sanity to commit similar or worse acts of lunacy in hopes of fame and reality shows.

deneventer
deneventer

If I won the lottery, yeah sure!!! I think this is the right sort of style to do it in.

lezentel
lezentel

If he were tired of the job, why did he not just quit? no matter how you see what he did, you would not want to jeopardize your business by employing a person who can't reason his actions

mtuikoro
mtuikoro

JEEZ... I cant imagine doing something ABSOLUTELY CRAZY like that!!! "BLAZE OF GLORY" or not!!! That guy definitely had issues..LOL..

mahadeva_sarma
mahadeva_sarma

I really thought I was te only one who had a speech ready for the day of quitting.Well, what this guy did isn't worth emulating. He has only acted in haste.I was expecting some different kinda story.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I collect information on the company and the people first. Then I sue their pants off. One place I organized a strike and helped setup their eventual unionization after leaving that really put a knot in the employer's shorts. The second place I turned them in the the EPA and the CARB in CA. Not only did I get to raise havoc, but I got a hefty legal settlement AND they were required to hire me back without prejudice. Revenge is sweet when well planned and executed. How's that for an I got you!

cpmgfp0409
cpmgfp0409

Someone's probably already covered this, so I apologize if I'm being redundant - but Toni's account of the incident is lacking several details that I consider key. The flight attendant wasn't just upset because he got "hit on the head with a piece of luggage." When he got hit, he was having to deal with an altercation between two arguing passengers over space in the overhead bins. THEN, when the flight landed, and the female passenger found that her gate checked luggage wasn't magically on the jetway waiting for her, she cussed this same attendant out, calling him a M*****F*****, and apparently every other name in the book. It's at this point I imagine the poor thing felt that peculiar "PING" in his head that signals a life-changing epiphany. He got on the plane's PA, saying "to the passenger that just called me a MF, F-you", grabbed several beers from the galley, then pulled the evac slide and left. And guess what? I am one of the jealous people. I spent a wonderful 7 years at a company working for 4 different bosses who all thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. When my last boss decided to make the "management experience" move, I decided to leave the company. I unknowingly began the most miserable year and half of my career, working for a man who had never been a manager before, worked 16 hours a day so that he could delegate as little as possible, (thus not allowing anyone else on the team to learn, grow, or shine in front of the Execs), and then micromanaged anything he did delegate to the point of driving that person to drink. I couldn't leave, though - we needed the paycheck, we were buying a house, it just wasn't an option. And the housing market in my city made the chances of finding a comparable position slim to none. So I stayed, wishing at least 3 times a week that I could tell him EXACTLY how bad, and how CLUELESS about how bad he was. I hope this flight attendant gets a reality show, or requests for speaking engagements at 10K a pop, or something. I think he hit a nerve with a lot of people out there who are staying in jobs made more and more soul crushing because they feel trapped by the crap economy.

itadmin
itadmin

This guy was bonkers. To even insist on an apology was unrealistic. I would just have moved on, not even speaking to the passenger. And I'm no saint. As a student, long ago and far away, I worked on the railways as a steward in the holidays. One high and mighty teacher type was showing his importance to his awed family by being very condescending to the steward, me. Finally, he wanted to show his superiority by giving this minion a tip. I refused his tip. That floored him. He insisted I take his tip. I told him there was nothing in the railway regulations compelling stewards to take tips and I would not take one cent of his. Spilling hot coffee on a passenger also worked well. Trains did jerk from time to time. How can the poor steward help it? There are quiet ways to get even. If one is unhappy in one's job and can easily get a new job, then by all means, move on. How easily one can get a new job is most likely the biggest determinant in deciding how much one is going to put up with. One of the worst things to put up with is aggressive stupidity; I'm your boss and you will put up with my tantrums and listen to my spur of the moment ideas. Being male, I've never been sexually harassed (even in the prime of my youth - and I would have harassed so easily), so I can't comment on that. In Proverbs Solomon says that with calmness and reason one can often overcome big differences with one's boss.

hueyshepherd
hueyshepherd

Where was his chain of command? Who is in charge?.

plawler
plawler

Just FYI, the "awesome" resignation letter is totally bogus.

milkanonlb
milkanonlb

Wow. If only. OK, I would never never ever do anything this crazy. I would help put the luggage back in the bin, tell the passenger it's alright, then go in the loo and cry. But I can tell you that even without the histrionics quitting a job on your own terms especially when you have nothing lined up is the greatest feeling in the world. Everything that was important yesterday is just gone the next. No need to have a tantrum ? just quit ? you can still go pound back some beers. You'll feel great (for a little while anyway).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

'Publicity', maybe, but they aren't interchangeable.

lafreightman
lafreightman

What about the rude passenger? If I was him I'd file a workers compensation claim. That would bust their balls!

Englebert
Englebert

1. Exit interviews do have a bearing. I know of a case where 3 managers quit under a VP, which got him fired. 2. People are people. There will always be some who dont listen or obey orders. If you dont understand this simple truth, you're in the wrong business. 3. What you do on a plane is vastly different from other environments for the simple reason of Safety. The flight attendant's actions must convey one of calm, control, composure in this case.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

took the song to #1, way back in 1977 - Take This Job and Shove It The flight attendant just did it with style... :-)

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

Steven Slater is a hero. No it wasn't the right way to resign from his job; the right way would not have made him the hero, though, would it?

codybwheeler
codybwheeler

Sad, but true in most cases. Although however pointless exit feedback might be, it should still be done. While there may not be any direct action, at least someone knows what was going through this person's mind each day. Here are a few posts about beating bad bosses on the Integrity HR Human Resources Blog. Beating Bad Bosses Blog Series - Make sure to start at Part 1

dba88
dba88

Right or wrong... I have a feeling it's going to happen more often. People are stretched so thin, they're going to snap. I'm quite surprised that it hasn't happened more. Much more is expected of us for a lot less, the economy is in the toilet with no foreseeable modicum of emplyment recovery in sight regardless of who's in office, employers have the advantage hands down and can walk all over us top to bottom and there isn't a ding dong we can do about it! It's no wonder people are not reacting more and I'm very surprised there hasn't been an uprising against employers. Something certainly needs to be done where the employee is concerned and it's way, way overdue!! As for the flight attendant. There just so much cr-p a person can take from a client / customer. However, there are thousands of folks out there that think flight attendants and airline personnel, in general, are so rude, and customer service so crappy with most airlines (with one or two exception where they value their customers), that passengers get so frustrated, angry, mad and PO'ed, that I'm super surprised that there hasn't been something more serious!!

Burp
Burp

I was in the Navy in the mid 70s. About once per week I had to stand watch from midnight to 0800 and part of my duties was to play the Star Spangled Banner on tape while the flag was raised. My fantasy was to substitute the Jimi Hendricks version of the SSB and play it over the loud speakers over the whole base. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of jail/brig time. We all have the fantasy of getting even. If we did it more often in IT, the world would be a mess.

Mark Colan
Mark Colan

The pretty girl resigning her job in 33 photos holding up a whiteboard for captions was a stunt created by two guys who hired a 22-year-old aspiring actress. C'mon, you knew it was a little too good to be true.

mgrs_must_go
mgrs_must_go

"Never Try" or in this case "Never Complain"....... mmm donuts.....................

navnitsingh
navnitsingh

in my opinion people leave people and not companies...most probably the guy up there was just to dissatisfied with maybe an abusive boss to go into such a spiral.....

jkameleon
jkameleon

Not very plausible, but well... I like alternative theories. The guy knew he's about to snap, that he can't take it anymore, that he's about to lose his job sooner or later. Now, in this economy, once you become unemployed, you stay unemployed. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/bleak-outlook-for-long-term-unemployed/ Looks like employers are avoiding the unemployed as if they are tainted or something. So, no matter how you quit your job, you're fucked. You ain't gonna find another. By quitting in such newsworthy way, that flight attendant made a name for himself, and actually increased chances of getting hired again. He was on TV, after all.

jayakumar.loganathan
jayakumar.loganathan

In this case , the right thing to do is to think : " Patience is the best answerto all questions faced"

jackvandijk
jackvandijk

a nation of cowards does not know what to say about one courageous guy. Given that in 1946 the CEO made 30 times the income of the lower worker, which now is 550 times the income, while the workers have to put up with the sh.. Why the f... should we listen to Ms Bowers, who only writes many words because she gets paid per word. No one here, including Bowers has any conviction. So mine is: great job let them know what you think, loud. (and the added touch of sliding down is grand).

crdemallie
crdemallie

He may or may not have had this intention, but that could very likely be the result. Sad, but true.

gavnone
gavnone

The treatment, that you receive by Management, varies completely by industry. I worked at a national grocery chain, in my mid 20's, bagging groceries (I desperately needed work). One day when I came into work, I noticed that I was not listed on the "duty schedule" - I subsequently asked the Asst. Manager why that was and his response was "I don't know". Not only was the Asst. Manager lying to me, I found out 30 minutes later, after I was ordered to go to the Store Manager's office, that I was being fired - the Store Manager did not give me an immediate reason for my firing and, when I telephoned him 2 days later to ask why I was let go, he fabricated a story that I had caused physical damage to the store while on the job. It wasn't until several days later that I finally realized why I had been fired - if I had remained an employee of that store until the following day, I not only would have become a full member of the Grocery Union (they could not have indiscriminately fired me at that point) but they would have also owed the guy who recruited me a $50 finder's fee. Was I upset that I had been fired? Yes, because I had lost, at that time, the only source of income that I had been able to find up until then. Did I let my anger show? In a word, no. When the Store Manager fired me, I shook his hand and thanked him for allowing me to work there. When the Store Manager blatantly lied to me on the telephone as to why I had been fired, I thanked him for his explanation and concluded the call. Even though it would have been emotionally satisfying to curse him out at the top of my lungs, I decided not to go down that path. I have no idea what became of that Store Manager and, quite honestly, I don't care what happened to him. As for me, I have owned my own I.T. Consulting business for the last 13 years and easily make 10x more than I did when I worked at the grocery store.

rusty.tyson
rusty.tyson

Hello Toni A very mature example of staff firing a manager is described in Dan Senor and Saul Singer's book, "Start-up Nation". While describing the upside/down (in comparison to our culture) way Israelis have structured their companies, especially the biggest one, IDF, Senor & Singer discuss how troops can, do and have fired some of their officers for perceived incompetence or inability to lead effectively. It is acceptable (and expected) for staff to go over the head of an officer or a manager and tell her or his boss they have voted/out the unfavorable incumbent. That sure seems to have much more accountability, room for taking a situation seriously (well, every Israeli (due to universal conscription)) do regularly put their lives on the line, so it's already pretty serious everyday), and an opportunity to do something more than just complain, or rashly act out by quitting their jobs in a blaze of glory. And it sure seems to have much more upside potential than risky whistle-blowing when the entire company, branch of the military, even the whole country behaves in a way that is capable of doing something about everything that matters. Yes, I suspect that our former Jet-Blue attendant will have quite a lot of time on his hands to ponder the potential falacies of his acts, but, Thanks G_d, the rest of us have an opportunity and a responsibility to discuss his siutation, and also to think about behaving more courteously. Let's give all that a try.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Hopefully an area that they worked better within rather than a promotion to the level of one's incompetence (as the joke goes).

tbmay
tbmay

Unfortunately, before I could say whether I thought you were right or not, I'd have to know the details. Lawsuits have become the trend in income these days and it really sort of makes me sick. Of course, at times, it's completely warranted. The guy was wrong. No two ways about that. But I'll tell you, I have more respect for a person who recognizes we live in a free country and just leaves an employer he/she is no longer happy with than someone who plays court games. If you're miserable in a place of employment, there's no gun to your head. Only you will have to live with the benefits and/or consequences of leaving an employer. I certainly agree with Toni that you should leave on good terms if you can. My last employer has referred me and HIRED me for projects of their own. That's just one of the benefits of leaving on good terms. Another is 10 years from now you still won't be regretting how stupid you were.

youzer
youzer

most people who are praising the airline steward don't recognize his actions as immature and childish. Your's are much more inline with someone who is intelligent and in control of their actions. Well done! I can praise that.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Must be somehow equivalent to, but less than, what impinges upon it in order to give way. Maybe there lies the way.

neenamc
neenamc

I agree...I have quit a couple of jobs by just being calm, but totally clear that I couldn't work there anymore. Once, after some vacation time, I realized I couldn't hack another minute at that job, I was unappreciated and just another grunt worker. The other time I just walked off when co-workers were impinging on my pay (piece-work)...no worries, would rather eat dirt. Both times I felt justified, and with no other job in sight, I felt interestingly free, ready to take on anything. I highly recommend being clear, and ready for what moves you...helped me shake free of the worker bee syndrome.

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

One does not deserve glory for selfish and illegal acts, no matter how down trodden or stressed.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Doing something dangerous, stupid, and illegal doesn't make you a hero. Unless of course you're doing it to save someone's life from imminent danger. Notorious? yes. Infamous? yes. An idiot? definitely. An outlaw? maybe. But a hero? no. In olden days, it could even get you hanged. Or put in front of a firing squad. They had fewer loopholes in the law and fewer lawyers.

MET1
MET1

I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago on my last flight. The airport ticket counter staff seem to be pretty tightly wound up these days. There really needs to be some re-design of the process - passengers will get anxious and difficult no matter what and airport staff have to deal with all sorts of situations that many of the rest of us would consider unacceptable working conditions. It has been like that forever and only seems to get worse. It appears the only thing the airlines can or will do about it is reduce passenger - to live airline staff contact by pushing technology - so the passenger does more of the work. Well, that's fine, but they can't get away from having some contact at baggage check-in, gate check-in/boarding and in flight. When I had a brief chat with an airline agent about my son's frequent flier account - pleasantly - there was a visible amount of relaxation in the agents face and posture; as though there was an expectation of another unpleasant exchange and I surprised them. If you depersonalize the process are you de-humanizing the staff that has contact with the passengers?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

to slip "Weird Al's" 'Nature Trail to Hell' into the company Christmas music feed. "Coming this Christmas to a theater near you..."

JamesRL
JamesRL

Courageous? Real courage would have been to confront management about how they would work to eliminate such situations, so that all the fligth attendants jobs would be made better. Quitting is often the cowards way out. And pulling the slide? Thats a boneheaded move at best, and potentially dangerous at worst. (Did he check there were no luggage handlers below when he popped the chute?) I'm pretty sure btw that Ms. Bowers is paid a salary. She also writes articles to stimulate discussions, not to make her "convictions" known. As for no one here having convictions, don't mistake the fact that we don't agree with you for not having conviction.

rusty.tyson
rusty.tyson

I think that this world has a soft spot in its heart for folk with wavey, red hair and sweet smiles. But that's likely not the only reason Mz Bowers gets paid the Big Bucks she does. I would be willing to bet that she shows up for work regularly and on-time. And on top of that, she seems to have more than a redhead on her shoulders. You might have missed that she has a pretty good command of Yinglish and punctuation and grammar. (My teachers didn't really brain wash me about the importance of those skills and practical arithmetic and civility.) Oh, and I'll also make a side-bet that she probably puts in some long hours nights and weekends making sure all the writing and editing and behind-the-scenes publishiing work gets done to meet her and her employer's deadlines. That's conviction without Pride. And she also practices hard to develop her vocabulary so she doesn't have to stoop to foul language in making her points. So, the reason we should listen to Mz Bowers is that we respect her craft, her intelligence and her person. That's enough reason for most of us.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I too have been fired using a made-up story. Twice (both fast food joints). And once was fired from a company I had worked for for 8 years, with no reason whatsoever. In every case, I treated the company with respect, despite the lack of respect they showed me. Looking back at my employment history, the managers who fired me citing a fabricated reason are no longer employed by those companies. The company that fired me for no reason at all no longer exists - at least in this area. I, on the other hand, have never found it difficult to find work. It seems it works both ways - if you don't have respect for your employers/employees, it will come back around and bite you in the end. If you treat them as you would want to be treated, you will be rewarded - if in no other way than to be able to get a good night's sleep.

plumbsue60
plumbsue60

Gavnone, You handled that so professionally and well. By remaining calm and decent while the manager was lying to you should have made it somewhat difficult for him to sleep at night if he was a human with a conscience. The fact the you have overcome what they did to you and are now running your own business is outstanding. No one is never going to pay you what you are worth. I have been harassed by supervisors and unjustly fired but I never let it defeat me.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and I'm just curious. Do you consider God's name a cuss word? I couldn't help notice your underscore. I certainly am not embarrassed at the sight of my Lord's name.

mgj1954
mgj1954

If you REALLY believe that, then I have some waterfront property if the 9th Ward of Louisana to sell you. Hard work, dedication, and a good command of the english language is not what gets you anything anymore, NOW, professional a** kissing, that will get you far. When a company has decided that it's in THEIR best interest to layoff or close, they don't care what you have done, or how well you have done it.

rusty.tyson
rusty.tyson

Hello JCitizen Not at all embarrassed, or I wouldn't have brought up the reference in the first place. In my tradition, which dates back to the times of the wanderings of the Israelites through the deserts, it would be considered disrespectful to look on the face of the D_vine or to utter H_r name. Sorry that it may seem a little hokey to you, but it is our Tradition, so I am comfortable with it. In fact, I have lots of stories to tell, but because they are so susceptible to misinterpretation, I'd rather not post them out here in the wide open. Plus, they would likely seem to be irrelevant to the discussion topic, so we should just share them between us. Please let me know if you'd like to exchange Testimonials. Thanks & All th' e-Best, Rusty Tyson, ..., Member AICPA, MCSA with Messaging, ..., xyz Please don't look at my full LinkedIn Profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rustytyson

JCitizen
JCitizen

it is unfortunately true in most circumstances.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I remember the traditions that state not to speak his name directly; I see where your at now; thanks! And thank the Lord someone finds accounting interesting!! It nearly killed me in college! 0:-)

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