YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock
Sometimes a job can be so bad that we feel like we just can't take it anymore. We dream about just walking out the door and never coming back. The following people share their stories of how they did just that and what happened to make them walk out.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
YaromirM / Shutterstock
"I was the manager of a bookstore. It was close to Christmas, and it was chaos. We had store displays, but you'd straighten them up one minute, and within an hour, they were a mess again. One day, my boss came to my house (which I was renting with others), came into my bedroom (where I was in bed, reading), and proceeded to scream and yell at me about how much the store display was a mess. For about 15 minutes. Then he told me that I was to show up early the next day and he and some corporate person would have me fix the mess.
I called my long-distance girlfriend at the time, then I bought a train ticket to her town, and started packing.
The next morning, I showed up to work as told, saw my boss there with the corporate guy, and just handed my boss my key. 'No hard feelings,' I said. I walked out, and remember seeing my boss standing there, key in hand, stunned. I spent Christmas with my girlfriend for a few weeks, and later, we married and stayed married for 25 years until she passed away.
Later, I heard my boss panicked. He lost the manager to one of his top stores in the district days before Christmas and the height of the retail holiday frenzy. Right in front of corporate. I later told other former coworkers why I left, and they all asked the same thing, 'Your boss WENT INTO YOUR BEDROOM OFF HOURS TO YELL AT YOU?' They all agreed that was crazy. No regrets."
Ronald Sumners / Shutterstock
"I used to work in the office of an agency that featured nice, clean girls for birthdays, going away parties and stag nights. Yet this was all for show, they didn't provide any 'dirty' additional services.
The company got sold to new management. The new manager decided to start taking bookings for 'blue' acts (dirtier services) - didn't ask any of the girls if they were okay with it. They weren't, no more than the average girl would be.
Several incidences over a couple of weeks of girls turning up to guys who thought that they had booked a more 'hands-on' experience. One girl was booked on a coach with about thirty Hooray Henrys and couldn't get off, got assaulted. I was in the office when she came in. I was seriously angry.
Everyone had assumed until then it was just them and they'd had a crossed wire in the bookings. It hadn't occurred to them the boss had said they would do this stuff. I was less than sympathetic to the boss since this guy also had screaming fits at the slightest excuse and fired me several times a day.
I called some of the girls who hadn't come in. We all quit the same day. The company closed a few months later even though he got a few girls to do 'blue' acts because he was such a jerk with a bad temper no-one stayed more than a month."
Narong Jongsirikul / Shutterstock
"In college (14 years ago), I worked at a gas station/convenience store company named after a bird in Pennsylvania. I only worked there for a few months. My manager at the time was a jerk. He treated everyone horribly but had it in for me. He would give me awful hours because I was the only girl on staff. He would schedule me to work an overnight on the last day of the one week and then a first or second shift on the next day of the new week. He wasn't technically allowed to do it, but he got away with it.
At the time I was in college and working 40 hours plus my class schedule. I was trying to scale back my work hours because I had been hired as part-time and needed to concentrate on school work.
One day I got sick. I had the stomach flu and then began vomiting blood. I ended up in the emergency room where I was diagnosed with a burst ulcer and stomach flu. I was sent home with a very strangely worded doctor's note to not do anything for a week. I called work before going to the ER, and I called my boss offering to have the doctor fax him the work excuse. My boss didn't answer his phone or call me back, so I had the doctor fax over the excuse just in case.
I came back after a week to a mandatory meeting with my boss and the district manager saying they wrote me up for calling out and they would be docking my pay for missing a week of work. At the time I was a kid who was in tears because I thought I had done something wrong despite giving him the work excuse and listening to the doctor.
After getting reamed out for a good hour, my boss smirks and says, 'If you don't want your pay docked, we'll shift around your hours so you can make up the missed hours this week.' I had classes all week. I pointed this out and how I couldn't do overnights when I had class the next morning. He smirked again and said, "Tough.'
I stood up which surprised both of them and myself and said, 'I quit,' and walked out. I didn't even realize what I was doing until I was out the door and to my car. I took along the written complaint on how I had missed work due to my illness. The guy tried calling me up to scream at me, and I just had the phone company block his number on both my cell phone and landline.
I didn't bother to list the job on my resume and picked up a job at my college doing work in the library. So no consequences."
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock
"I quit a $100,000 job. Back in 2005, I was working for a company that produced healthcare conferences. All of the sales and business development responsibilities for a couple of their events were mine, and my team included a conference producer, a marketing manager and we shared some lower level employees with other groups.
The producer resigned to take another position at a different company so the CEO asked me to handle her job, 'until they could find a replacement.' No problem, I added that role to my already ridiculous calendar. So now I'm working with all of our sponsors, finding new ones and putting together the conference program. A month goes by and no replacement. Then the marketing guy quits. The same story, I'm asked to handle his job as well. Now I'm doing the work of three fairly high-level people and still killing my sales numbers, but I'm getting worn down. Working 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or so in the office, going home, eating dinner and then working to 9 or 10 p.m. most nights.
Maybe a couple of weeks later we're in a meeting with all of the company managers from the various event teams and the CEO asks why I haven't confirmed a speaker recommended by one of our top-tier sponsors and I tell him I reached out two days prior but haven't heard back. He goes off on me about how I'm not doing the job I'm being paid for, and I need to be more proactive and all this other stuff. During his tirade, every manager in corporate is staring in shock because they knew how much I had been doing in addition to my job.
I don't say a word; the meeting ends, and I go back to my office where I fire up my computer and email my resignation to my VP. Told her I couldn't give notice and it was my last day. She calls the CEO and the two of them come into my office and ask why I'm leaving and I say that I'm doing the job of three people for one salary and him yelling was the last straw. He apologizes, asks me to please stay because the event is about 90 days away and they'll be in a huge bind if I leave. Nope, I'm leaving. Finished packing my desk, stopped by HR to say goodbye and let them know I expect to be paid my commissions owed and I left."
Luis Molinero / Shutterstock
"I worked retail in a popular Canadian hardware/auto store for around two years. I was just a grunt but had started to step up a lot, deciding where to put new products, keeping everyone else on track/directing work, fixing stuff when it broke, etc. Because of this I had recently asked for a (well deserved) raise but got the 'I'll see what I can do,' run-around.
This one weekend, I was scheduled to work noon to 9 p.m., but had something to do that day, so I asked my manager (let's call him Roger) if I could work 5 to 9 p.m. and he approved it and changed the schedule.
Then that day comes, and I show up at 5 p.m. Roger pulls me into the office, asks where I was, I remind him my shift changed and he said it never happened. He starts going off about how I didn't show up, I'm not reliable, and the last weekend the MOD couldn't find me (I was fixing our broken paint mixer, I spoke to him repeatedly about it). The following happens. I say, 'I know for sure we had the conversation, I guess in the future I'll double check with you the day before. I've got some things to take care of, are we good here?'
Roger replies, 'Oh, I took you off the schedule.'
'Well, I'm here now so I can take over for whoever is covering.' I say.
Roger says, 'No, I took you totally off the schedule, we didn't know if you would come in, so I assumed you were done.'
Confused, I say, 'Okay, so I'm fired? Do I need to sign anything or...?'
Roger, with a flicker of panic in his stupid face answers, 'Well you're here now, I'll put you back on, and everything can go back to normal.'
At this point, I figured he was trying to either scare me into doing more work than I was or scare me into backing down on the aforementioned raise. Either way, I'm not putting up with that. For some context on the next part, turnover was high, and there had just been a mass exodus - Roger shot himself in the foot. I say, 'You know what, I think I am done. I'm not going to work for someone who threatens to fire me because he dropped the ball with scheduling.'
Roger is pleading now. 'I'm sorry, but I can put you back on the schedule, and it'll be just like before!'
I say, 'Yeah, no. I quit.'
This went on for a while until I got tired of it and went home. There was no real aftermath. Roger told everyone (except the government) he fired me, I got a new job less than 24 hours later, life went on. Maybe Roger learned not to mess around with the useful employees. Stupid idiot."
Pavel Ryabushkin / Shutterstock
"My first private practice attorney job was with a small law firm.
The interview process was great. I liked the partner I'd be working for, and he seemed like he'd be a great mentor. He knew I hadn't had any private law firm experience, and understood that I'd need some guidance.
When I was offered the position, I was told I'd need to bill 150 hours a month. That works out to about seven hours a day. I was told that they understood I wouldn't be able to hit that target right off the bat, so I'd have some time to ease into that.
Then the job began in May 2008.
I received almost NO assignments. I couldn't bill for reading emails that the partner forwarded to me since he had already billed for reading them. I was given one pleading to draft, but I couldn't sign my name to it (that was for him to do). He had me accompany him to a deposition (on a Saturday), but I couldn't bill for it because the client would only pay for his time.
Most of what I was assigned to do was read deposition transcripts and summarize them. That's the job of a legal assistant or paralegal, not an attorney.
As the summer wore on, I was noticing exactly how much turnover there was in the office. I believe we lost nine different people that summer. Some quit, and some were fired.
If there was billing/timekeeping software in place, I was not given access to it. I had to keep track of my hours handwritten on a legal pad and give them to the partner at the end of the month.
We could wear jeans on Fridays, but we were never, ever allowed to wear tennis shoes. Apparently, someone was stealing office supplies, so we had to SIGN OUT reams of paper for our printers.
The partner I worked for would yell and scream at his staff (legal assistants and paralegals) to the point where they would cry.
I made the mistake of asking him what a 'PA' was. Instead of simply answering me that it meant 'Public Adjuster,' he reamed me out telling me that if clients knew that I didn't know what that meant, they'd take their business elsewhere.
In November, the partner I worked for was going out of town for a few days. I asked him for some assignments that I could do while he was gone (I had no work at that time). He refused to give me anything to work on, saying, 'I'm too busy correcting your mistakes to give you new assignments.'
At the beginning of December, he called me into the conference room, closed door. He told me that his partners were upset with my lack of billing. He said I only had 40 hours in November.
I explained to him that two days in November were the Thanksgiving holiday, and he was gone for three other days and refused to give me anything to finish. So if you added in 40 hours (eight hours a day for five days) to compensate for that, my billing would have doubled (although I'm sure I wouldn't have had enough work to fill up that additional 40 hours).
He said that he could either cut my pay to correspond with the hours I was billing, make me part-time, or let me go. I told him none of those options were acceptable to me. He said he needed to talk with his partners and think about what he was going to do.
I knew at that point that it was time for me to go. I ramped up my job search (I had been half-heartedly looking for a while). I started taking my few personal items home a little at a time so that it wouldn't be noticed.
My plan was to last through December 12, which was the night of our firm Christmas dinner, and when Christmas bonuses would be given out.
On December 8, I realized I just couldn't stand to even make it through that week. My partner was out of the office that day. I put my last few personal items in a box under my desk. I drafted a resignation letter effective immediately. I also gave back my key (and noted in my resignation letter that it didn't even work anymore anyhow, since they had apparently changed the locks several times since I started due to having fired other employees, and I never got a new key). I asked them to mail my last paycheck to me.
At lunchtime, I left my resignation letter and key on the partner's chair, picked up my box of stuff, and walked out.
I ran into his secretary and another paralegal as they were getting off the elevator and I was getting on. They looked at me in shock, as they realized what was happening. I just said, 'I can't do this anymore,' and got on the elevator.
I never heard from them again, with the exception of getting my last check mailed to me.
Ultimately I was out of full-time work for almost three months. I probably picked the worst time ever to walk out of a job with nothing else lined up first. As you may recall, the winter of 2008 was a pretty horrible time in our economy. I had a little in savings, and my parents helped me with my rent that last month I was unemployed. I snagged a little part-time work while I was interviewing as well.
Thankfully, my next job served as a springboard into my current job, where I've been for just over eight years.
I'm just waiting for the day when I run into that partner somewhere. My current office is only three blocks away from that firm. I have run into one of the other partners once, but I don't think he remembered me (even after I re-introduced myself to him).
So it worked out smashingly well in the end. I take juvenile pleasure in extending my middle finger to the office windows any time I drive by."
"This is the story of the shortest job I've ever had. I had just moved to a new city, having graduated with a BS in Psychology but decided I didn't want to go to grad school to turn it into something useful. I wasn't sure what career path I wanted to change to at the time, but options are pretty limited when all you have is a useless degree. I'd been working in restaurants for about a year at that point until I could get out of my college town and I wanted to do something that paid better than that.
I was looking online, and I found a position as a salesperson. No cold calls, lots of autonomy on the job, the whole pitch. I said, 'Sure, I'll give it a try.' I reached out, aced the interview, and I showed up for my first day of work. Red flag number 1 was that, in the massive office building where I was supposed to work, I'd only ever seen two people, my interviewer and my trainer on the first day. So I go into a room, and my trainer begins to run me through her orientation with just me. She proceeds to tell me that I'll be cold calling people (red flag number 2) and explains to me the process of selling people our product (it was the infrastructure for credit card swiping machines that is now pretty much obsolete in a world that has Square).
After an hour, the trainer asks if I have any questions so far and I respond, 'I think I'm just going to quit.' I explained to her that everything she'd just told me about the business of sales is my worst skills and doing this job was an actual nightmare for me, not to mention that I was trying to pay bills with this job and working on the commission wasn't what I was looking for. She was understanding and even tried to pay me for the hour I was there, though I never sent her my address so I never got my $7.
Since then, I worked hard, taught myself to code, and now I have a career in web development. No regrets."
pathdoc / Shutterstock
"I took a job making a little more than minimum wage pushing wheelchairs at the airport. It was supposed to be an easy gig, and we got tips. However during orientation, we were told it's illegal under federal law to ask for the tips, you just take it if it's offered.
So the first day on the floor, my trainer has me pushing normal wheelchairs up the ramp from the plane to help disabled people get off and in the planes. Right before I go to lunch, a call comes in over the radio. 'Cadillac wheelchair to terminal XYZ gate 123.' My trainer takes the call and assures me that Cadillac wheelchair users always tip well. We get down to the gate; the passenger is standing by the door of the plane, she plops down on the seat and my trainer motions for me to do the pushing. There wasn't anything wrong with her, she was just too big and didn't want to walk. To top it off she needs to go to the farthest terminal, almost a good half a mile walk up several ramps. I push half the way, and my trainer helps, we keep switching out. After what feels like forever we make it to her gate, she gets up picks up her bags from under the seat and goes off, not even a thank you. I handed my trainer my radio and told her I'm going to lunch. Got to the parking lot, turned on my radio and peeled off. I'd rather work at McDonald's than for thankless idiots."
Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock
"When I was in high school I worked at Taco Bell. During certain segments of my time working there, since I worked there off and on for two years, I worked with this group of people that were all family. There was the shift manager, and she had a couple of her cousins that worked there.
So random times during work, especially when we were busy, these people would randomly go sit out in the lobby, not during their break time but just randomly when they got tired. This caused me to do a lot of work when people should have been helping. They would also clock out and take an hour break and then have their manager cousin change their time to where it said they only took a half an hour.
So this went on for months. During this time I was going to high school. I was waking up at 6:30 a.m. going to school until 3 p.m. I would then come to work at 4 p.m. and then get off work at 1 a.m. Then obviously right up for school at 6:30 a.m. So one day I'm on my 30-minute lunch break that we have to clock out to take. The Taco Bell I worked at basically shared a parking lot with McDonald's so I went to McDonald's for dinner that night. After I ate, I was trying to read, and I ended up falling asleep. I wasn't asleep for more than 30 minutes, so I took maybe a 45-minute to an hour break. I get up, rush back to my store, and get back to work.
As soon as I clock in, the manager starts yelling at me. She starts saying that I've been gone for three hours and they've been looking for me and how they adjusted my time accordingly. So I asked her, 'If I was gone for two and a half hours how come you had to adjust my time. I clocked out.'
That's when she smirked at me. See before my break I had complained about the fact that they kept going out and sitting while we were busy. She told me to mind my business.
I didn't know what to do so I went back to work seething. I was seething, but I took a little bit of time to decide what I wanted to do. Then it came to me. I'd been permitted a long-time employee to help people adjust their time when necessary. So I went up adjusted my time back to the hour that I was gone and walked out.
The next day I called and talked to the actual store manager and told her why I did what I did. She told me they were saying that I was belligerent and walked out for no reason. I told her my side of the story and that I've been working my butt off for them and watching these people take breaks when they weren't supposed to for months now.
I eventually went back, but not until after that manager was gone. I worked there for another year after that."
Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock
"I was working at a restaurant that was going downhill. There were three floors, all separate but would serve any of the three menus. Recently our management had gotten serious about us writing down our 'breaks' on our timesheets. We didn't ordinarily get them, but it was mandatory to remove 30 minutes for every five hours on the clock for your timesheet. Obviously not fair, but whatever. Usually, shifts weren't that long.
I was a student, and when summer came around, they were angry I took a full-time co-op through my school, meaning I would be part-time for the summer with them. They booked me open to close on Canada day, which is not typical. There was always a different opener and closer. Anyway, 8 p.m. rolls around; I'm pretty tired, there are three other bored servers on the floor and only two tables. I haven't eaten yet, and the kitchen wouldn't cook me any food, so my boyfriend offers to bring me McDonald's. The manager that night somehow found out and would not let me take a break or eat. She yelled at me a bunch for no apparent reason then told me I would be on the floor until closing. I wasn't dealing with another 4 hours of no food without a logical reason so I told her I quit and left.
I was banned from the building which is ridiculous but whatever. They mailed me my last check, and I've never gone back or regretted my choice. My summer was a lot better after that!"
sheff / Shutterstock
"I worked in a company that had a toxic reputation within an industry regarded as high pressured and brutal.
I was the golden child for a bit - got promoted within my first month, lavished with praise, and though I was aware of some nasty characters I felt confident dealing with them. Then, while I was distracted training someone new, I made a mistake. I apologized, did my best to rectify it, and continued.
Well, I could never recover from that. I immediately became the scapegoat for anything that went wrong, whether I was involved in it or not. Half my job became covering my butt because if I didn't, I would be scolded. My mental health and self-esteem took a massive hit, and my performance suffered which just got me caught up in a vicious cycle. I started looking for other jobs, but couldn't bear to apply because by this point I hated myself so much I didn't think I would be good at any job. I have never felt more incompetent.
Then, my mom got diagnosed with a terminal illness. My team was lovely about it, and I checked out of work a lot which ironically made things a bit better. When I had bigger things to worry about, it was easier to just get stuff done, though I will admit to not exactly going above and beyond.
My boyfriend proposed to me, and when I got back to work my loveliest co-workers had decorated my desk with balloons and bridal banners. I was stood with them telling them all about the proposal and how happy I was when my manager grabbed me by the arm, hauled me into a meeting room and yelled at me for something I later heard was proven not to be my fault. I just said okay, went back to my desk, wrote a resignation letter and handed it in after lunch. HR went into panic mode because the hostile work environment and my mental health and all the stuff with my mom left them open to legal action/bad PR, so they gave me a month's wages and agreed when I said I wasn't going to be in the next day. So my engagement drinks were hastily changed to leaving drinks. Lots of people cried - despite it all I was a popular member of the team, and many people said to me that they thought I had a case for constructive dismissal.
I think it's easy to look back and think I was just a shift worker, but I excelled in every other job I had, and I am excelling in my current job now. Honestly, the firm was just full of ruthless bullies, and since I left, I've heard about someone else becoming the scapegoat - the golden child while I was there. My mental health improved within days, and now I am in a much better position to deal with my mom and planning the wedding, my new company is just so much better."