the postage stamps, the airport page, and other deranged responses to resignations — Ask a Manager

Last week I asked about deranged things your employer did when you resigned. Here are some of my favorite stories you shared.

1. The postage stamps

An attorney I worked for had custom postage stamps made with HER FACE on them specifically for mailing folks their last paycheck after they were fired or (usually) quit. There was a lot of turnover there.

2. The document

After I gave my two weeks notice, I recommended that we have a meeting with the CEO, Operations Manager, and the person assuming my responsibilities (which was everything IT for this small 40+ staffed org – sysadmin, website development, hardware and software support, etc.).

During the meeting, the CEO screamed at me to move my chair out of their way as they were trying to squeeze past me to literally print out my cloud document of instructions (which had probably 50 or more hyperlinks to other documents). Everyone else in the meeting had their laptops open. I tried to explain printing it out would be useless. I even tried to loan them my laptop in the meeting so they could follow along. Nope, they wanted to print it out. That was the last time I would be screamed at for such nonsense after five years. I quietly left the meeting, went back to my desk, adjusted my resignation letter from two weeks to one week, and handed it off. I indicated that I would keep shortening the time for every screaming incident. Worked like a charm, and left after one week. I now have my own successful freelance IT business.

3. The freeze

I worked for a nonprofit that had terrible senior management and insane turnover. When I started, there were 60 employees and when I left, there were 25.

After employees announced their resignation or if they were laid off, senior management would completely ice them out. Cancel all their meetings, take them off email chains. They’d even tell other employees not to talk to them.

I have to say, it was my best notice period ever. Up to that point, I was expected to be on call 24/7 in case the CEO had an “emergency” (like didn’t like that I only included the mission statement once in a document). So, being cut off was heaven. I got my transition document done and told my coworkers, then just spent the rest of my time scrolling TikTok and preparing for my new job.

4. The advice

When I resigned from a job a few years back, my manager launched into the usual “follow your dreams” speech. Strangely, the speech devolved into how she’d wanted to get breast enhancement surgery in her early twenties and that she should have followed her dreams and that she might just do that now. The speech was complete with hand gestures of approximate size and lift. I just sat there, smiling, for over an hour. I can only imagine what my colleagues were thinking when they walked past her office. I hope she followed her dreams. She really was a lovely person.

5. The refusal

My boss’s reaction was to tell me that my notice period was way too short and that I was burning bridges. I gave her four weeks notice, the standard in the industry and at the organization was two unless otherwise stated in the job contract (it wasn’t). She told me that I should have told her I was interviewing elsewhere. Then she told me that she would absolutely not release me and that she would escalate this to the Vice President if she had to. What made it even better was that she was making me interview and compete for my current position that I had built from scratch with minimal support.

6. The insult

When I left for a wayyy more prestigious company and twice the salary, the HR person and my manager took me out for lunch. They spent the entire meal explaining that I really wasn’t that interesting of a person and that I would miserably fail with the high expectations of the new job, since it “required someone with social skills.”

Then the HR lady paid for herself and my boss, leaving me to foot my own bill.

(I’ve been at said new job for five years now. I can tell you that my first years were an absolute dream and that I exceeded expectations at every yearly review. Turns out the “absence of social skills” was mostly due to the fact that I just didn’t really like my old team. Sorry, old team.)

7. The well wishes

I resigned and went through long, protracted convos with my boss, grandboss, and great grandboss to get me to stay. I was burned out and great grandboss in particular kept misstating the problems and offering bad solutions. When I finally got on Zoom with all three of them to say thank you but no, grandboss was super gracious and said I was always welcome back if anything changed. Great grandboss waited a beat and then said, “I hope you hate New Employer.”

8. The chaos goblin

I had a job where I gave six weeks notice once. Was asked to documented all I did. So I did, it took two days. Went looking for the folks to hand it off to and train, asked boss how the handover was going to be. Silence. Gave hard copy to my boss along with link to file on work drive. Silence. The only team that actually processed that I was leaving was accounting and HR. I worked 100% until last my last day, 10-14 hours, five days a week, plus on call after hours and weekends. On my last day, I packed the last of my stuff (I had moved most of my personal things the day I gave notice). I went around saying my goodbyes, giving out my private cell and email address to friends. Turned in all equipment assigned to me and had it accounted for. Went to my boss’s office to give him a list of things in flight that may become a problem if not addressed soon. Said goodbye and how it was a pleasure to work for them, I learned a lot, and I wished them the best. (It is what you say in real life so that you don’t burn bridges.) I handed in my keycard and badge to security and almost made it to my car before someone came running up to me asking me to come back. I thought I had forgotten something.

My boss was shocked that I was actually leaving. I reminded him that I had given notice six weeks ago, written out documentation of all my actual duties, contacts, calendar, schedules so that they could write up a job description and had waited to train someone or offload duties to someone who was staying.

He said “I thought you only wanted a raise, not that you would actually quit!” I asked, do I get a raise? He said no. I said goodbye and how it was a pleasure to work for them, I learned a lot, and I wished them the best. (It is what you say in real life so that you don’t burn bridges.)

He asked me to stay for a meeting where we would go over the documentation I gave him five weeks ago. I had already done a 10-hour day (salary), said goodbye to all my contacts, etc. I did the meeting with his boss, a VIP, an owner and managers of other teams to go over splitting up my job.

They decided to schedule a meeting on the following Monday to go over things and start cross training. I reminded them that I no longer worked there. “But we needed you to do this! We aren’t ready! It’s a bad time to quit!” Blah, blah, blah.

I told them that I was no longer in the HR system and unless there was a contract of some type, I would not be working for free.

There was no offer to pay me something.

I said goodbye and how it was a pleasure to work for them, I learned a lot, and I wished them the best. (It is what you say in real life so that you don’t burn bridges.)

My daughter and I then left. Oh, I forgot to say, It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

They split my job between six people. Those six friends were pressured by my old boss to call me daily for help. They hadn’t been given my docs. I told some that if they took me out to lunch, I would go over something with them. I contacted boss with a offer to consult, with a price in line with what consultants in my industry were charging per hour. He declined. I stopped helping at all. A friend told me that they had to hire three people to replace me.

I probably would have stayed for 25% more pay and a one week guaranteed PTO increase.

I didn’t have a job lined up but I was burned out and willing to live on savings for a bit to give myself time to figure things out.

Next job I got paid 30% more. I make just shy of three times that now.

Plus my daughter knows the proper way to leave a job.

9. The parking sign

I was good friends with a coworker who was an executive assistant but had been going to nursing school – everyone knew, it wasn’t a surprise. When she graduated, found work as a nurse and gave notice, the boss was so incensed he strode out to the parking lot in his khakis and began trying to uproot her reserved parking sign.

I guess he had considered it a real honor for her to have it (most of us didn’t because honestly, parking was not too hard to come by there). It’s an indelible image that we still talk about, him trying to dig up that sign. I also gave notice a few months later (to work at the same place as my nurse friend, in fact) but he did not tear anything apart, which I take as an insult!

10. The hookers and thieves

I worked for a nonprofit theater company and in the course of a few months everyone in my department save me and the director was either let go or quit. Our director was under pressure from the head of the company and spent a lot of time in her office with the lights off.

I gave my notice after receiving and offer with another organization, and she snapped when I told her—laughing hysterically, rocking back and forth, spouting all kinds of nonsense. She told me that everyone at the new organization were “hookers and thieves” and that they would lure me into an alley to attack me with baseball bats. She completely ignored me from then on out, going so far as to walk into group settings and make a big show of NOT talking to me. On my last day she asked me to lunch as if nothing had happened and told me she’d been planning on taking me with her to her next gig. Dodged a bullet there!

11. The memo

The year was 1988. I worked for a publisher of computer hobbyist magazines. It was a tiny family business and the boss was kind of a jerk, compounded by rage issues. When I gave my two weeks notice, he demanded an explanation. My official reasons for changing jobs were more money, convenient location on campus where I lived, and good resume experience.

My unofficial reason was that it was a sexist environment, I had had to prompt them to raise my pay by 25 cents as they had promised, and the boss was generally a jerk, treating us like a bunch of goldbrickers when we were college students doing professional work producing a high quality magazine for $4.25 an hour. And he was a sexist pig. And he often threw temper tantrums.

But I wanted to leave on good terms, so I didn’t say that stuff. Until.

The day after I gave notice, there was a memo on everyone’s desk about how disappointing and untrustworthy and ungrateful we were. That really made me mad. So I went home and composed a memo of my own and gave it to him the next day.

The vein in his forehead began to visibly throb. He called all of us into the conference room and proceeded to read my memo to everyone. Occasionally he would pause in disbelief (for dramatic effect) at what I had written. When he was done, he said, “None of this is true.” And I replied, “If that’s so, why do you never make those remarks when your wife is around?”

That did it. He threw me out. Several of my coworkers got jobs on campus after that too. I don’t know how he continued to produce the magazines, but changes in the home computer market would render them obsolete in a few years anyway.

Details on the memo are here.

12. The lengthy break

I guess I didn’t technically resign, but a job that had promised me full-time hours starting in the summer just took me off the schedule for an entire month. With no guarantee that they’d even put me back on, let alone give me the full time I’d quit my other job for.

So naturally I started job hunting and took a new job. SIX MONTHS later, I had to swing by the old job to pick up some paperwork and the front desk said, “Oh, we’ve been meaning to call you. Can you come in Thursday?” They seemed legitimately surprised that I wasn’t sitting around for half a year waiting for them to call.

13. The freeze, part 2

This was my first job out of college. I resigned my extremely entry-level job with two weeks notice. I explained I was leaving for graduate school and had enjoyed my two years with the organization. My manager looked at me and said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me, I can’t even talk to you anymore.” She walked out and for the rest of the two weeks gave me full silent treatment and only communicated with me by email and post-it note.

What made this even more awkward? We were a small nonprofit and shared offices (really small rooms like a bedroom) and so for two weeks my manager refused to speak with me and sent emails for every single request/put post-it notes on my desk, all while sitting right next to me but still talking to the other colleague that shared our space. It was a painful, but quiet two weeks!

14. The moral choice

Just out of college, I started and then quickly bailed on one of my first office jobs for multiple good reasons. When the owner received my notice, she not only told me not to bother coming back for the notice period, but informed me that she would expect me to return all the money she had previously paid me for work already done and that I should send a check within 90 days. She used this phrase, I have never forgotten it: “It is the correct moral and responsible choice on your part to restore our investment to us, for the good of your future career.”

I later heard through my small-town grapevine that I was not the first or only office employee she’d ever tried this with, especially trying it with other young and inexperienced workers.

Me, I just kept the money and counted myself lucky to be gone.

15. The insistence

I worked as the office manager for a small company for about a year and a half. (A year and a half too long! But we won’t get into that!) My boss was the owner, and when I gave him my resignation, he was furious. He yelled, “How could you do this to me?” The next day, as sweet as he could be, offered me $20k to stay, shortened hours, and extra PTO. I politely declined but he became furious again and told me, “I insist you stay!” It took everything I had to stay for my two week notice.

16. The advice, part 2

When I was 23, I was an office administrator for an accounting firm where I was underpaid and just treated terribly. When I finally decided to quit after two years, I walked into my boss’s office, to tell him I was resigning and that my last day would be in four weeks. He said he was sorry to see me leave, and said: “Can I give you some advice? Freeze your eggs. You never know, you may have trouble conceiving when you decide to have kids.” He spent another five minutes talking about why I should freeze my eggs, before I walked out.

17. The counseling referral

I told my manager that I wouldn’t be continuing in the role once my contract expired (academic postdoc role, he was trying to get funding to extend the contract). He’d already derailed my internal redeployment attempts by causing people enough hassle that they decided to pull a role that would have been great for me instead of hiring me for it. This was after he’d casually gone, “So if they offer you that role, you’re turning it down, right?” He was not delighted with my response on that one.

I’d anticipated trouble because he was brilliant but also awful at interacting with people in general, and had already had a chat with HR complete with paper trail of his bad behavior and let them know I wanted out. I emailed over a resignation and then when he said he wanted a face to face meeting, I told HR about the meeting and then went in prepped with a strong message of “this is happening so how do we want to handle the hand-over?” Instead he spent the meeting trying to persuade me to stay and ignoring what I was saying until I just left the meeting in tears because he wouldn’t listen.

The next day, HR got in touch to say that he’d contacted them to ask them to send me to the university counseling service because I was “making rash decisions.” Thankfully they’d already realized he was not a rational human being about this and let me handle it how I liked, and gave me a HR contact I could use as a reference for job hunting. I’m now in a role where I’m much happier and can use it as an exciting anecdote.

18. The obliviousness

I once reported in to a CFO whose disrespect and abuse escalated to screaming “NO” and “GO AWAY” when I would come to his office to request tasks that only he could perform, like international wires of bills that urgently needed paying (and I had to go to his office to follow up because he would just ignore my emails). Like, he would scream “GO AWAY” at me before I could even say “hello” or ask my request.

I was so relieved when I got another job and gave my notice to HR. When HR informed him I had quit, he marched into the group accounting office, and screamed at me, demanding to know why I hadn’t simply come to talk to him if I was so unhappy.

19. The airport page

In the days before cell phones, I had a terrible boss. She was suuuuper sweet, but she always found an “innocent” way to get people to do work on nights and weekends. She’d either manufacture an emergency or pretend to lose important papers so you’d have to come in only to find out from other people she had what she needed all along. She once made me come in at 9 pm on a Tuesday to redo her schedule to reflect all her rebookings for a work trip only to learn the next day that she had decided the previous week she wasn’t going at all.

Boss only acted like that to unpaid interns, which I was.

When I gave notice, my workload increased and increased to the point I couldn’t pack up my apartment because my boss kept calling me with “just one more question” and “we really need you so can you come in just one last time?” The day I left town, she told me I had to come in and work a half day before my flight or else she “didn’t know” if she could write me a letter of recommendation. So I did because I thought I didn’t have a choice.

As I packed up my apartment and did a last minute check, my boss continued to call me and leave messages on the answering machine. (My internship gave us furnished apartments so that’s why it stayed plugged in.) I never responded. A couple of years later, I found out from an ex-coworker that my boss was asking her staff to call DC’s National Airport to have me paged so I could answer more work questions before I boarded. Apparently, you can’t use the paging system for that.

20. The loon

When I left OldJob, one of my six (six!!!) bosses called me repeatedly – from her cell phone to my cell phone, so I could clearly see it was her – and hung up. She forbade everyone from getting me a cake for my last day. She ignored me for two weeks, then scheduled one hour on my last day for me to “teach her my job,” and showed up 20 minutes late…

The icing on the cake is that it’s a very small town, and her daughter and mine have been friends since kindergarten. Her last order of business when I walked out the door was to tell me “it’s not personal” and then uninvite my daughter from her daughter’s birthday party the next day.

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