My Great Resignations
Serve my needs or I quit
“Everyone is loud and proud to say they let go of what wasn’t serving them.” –Millennial quoted by The New York Times, “Public Displays of Resignation.”
Who says today’s much wiser youth can’t teach doddering Boomers like me new tricks?
Like how to command the world to fulfill personal needs?
I’ve been plumbing this “Great Resignation” with keen interest because quitting work with self-satisfying, mike-drop aplomb and no apparent financial downside sounds wonderful. Especially as I literally slouch toward retirement age and still need money for fine dining, Amazon, streaming video and wine subscriptions, Medicare supplement plans, and other lifestyle purposes.
Frankly, I find it hard to fathom how so many Millennials and Gen Z can afford to quit their jobs, and with bridge-burning brio on Instagram. And do so suddenly without respectful notice to employers, breezily citing nonfulfillment of personal or career goals, or toxic traumatic microaggressions such as bosses being frustrated that your work and work ethic presents significant growth opportunities.
How can these youth blithely jump from job to job to job, not stress about job security, loyalty or career, and not recognize it’s called “work” because it’s hard, and not hard like our parents worked?
How can they trash employers — many struggling to stay in business — who needed and trusted them? Just because their employers failed to respect their limited fulsome experience and expertise, mentor their growth, or praise, reward and promote them sufficiently to take their bosses’ jobs because they were taught to believe they’re smarter than any bosses could be?
How does this youth job-quitting trend square with their keening (and the pandering media head-patting) about their crushing student loan debt, high cost of housing, historic challenge of entering the Great Recession job market, and their special debilitating PTSD from surviving The Great Pandemic working from home and not socializing, which many prefer by text anyway?
To be fair, many youth don’t worry about work and money like their job-plodding elders who worked hard all their lives to give them money.
· Some Great Resigners have already suffered enough to earn degrees from exclusive private colleges that cost their parents $1 million yet don’t lead quickly enough to management positions that respect and reward their significant experience and expertise. Worse, if they majored in Indignant and Litigious Studies with a minor in Extreme Sensitivity and Righteous Personhood, being avoided by employers is a powerful case study in what they learned.
· Some are not struggling to raise families, pay the rent and bills, and hence need to cling to any income that’s better than zero income.
· Some aren’t tired poor refugee immigrants working several horrible jobs that Americans won’t do but depend on those jobs being done while hating the immigrants who do them in striving to earn American opportunities including a better life for their kids.
· Some aren’t pulling long stressful hours, often working nights and weekends for low pay for something meaningful, like working for a climate change nonprofit, helping the homeless, or staffing a progressive member of Congress.
· Some if not most are enjoying White Privilege.
Or, as the above NYT article celebrates, a remarkable number are brilliant entrepreneurs who quit jobs and flipped off employers to launch instantly successful and satisfying businesses or to become wildly popular influencers monetizing their 10 million TikTok followers.
In any case, instead of sneering at Millennial and Gen Z Resigners, I’m inspired to follow their lead.
Quitting what’s hard while ignoring the benefits seems like actually awesome. So:
I quit my clients.
This is even though I desperately need clients to avoid fiscal ruin and cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew every night for sustenance.
Sure, clients pay me money for meeting their needs exactly when and how they need them, like fascist dictators who disregard my personal agency and need for afternoon naps to be my best to serve them.
But too often clients fail to respect my work-life balance calendar, even when I send it to them. Worse, when I meet their needs, they want more, which further imbalances my work-life juggling.
I quit my dog.
Benjamin Harrison, as I named my rescue mutt after our 23rd President because he looked exactly like BH and also favored the McKinley Tariff, failed to serve me like dogs are supposed to do. He refused to sit, beg, roll over, and come when called, like many Millennial/Gen Z workers say their abusive bosses demand they do.
I had no choice but to rehome Benjamin Harrison (the dog) as our relationship began to feel like he was the boss of me. He played the power card seen on bumper stickers that I didn’t rescue him, he rescued me! As if!
I quit social media.
It doesn’t serve my need to be decent and not respond in kind to nasty ignoramuses, notably hardcore Trumpers.
I quit relationships.
I get it, love is patient, love is kind, it doesn’t envy, boast or dishonor, etc.
But if love makes so many demands and doesn’t let me be me, then sorry not sorry this isn’t going to work out for me.
I quit my mortgage lender.
Wells Fargo may “legally” own my home, but this horrible greedy abusive corporate capitalist bank doesn’t own me!
Wells can go ahead and seize my home if I don’t pay my mortgage. I have other housing options. For instance, renting an “English basement,” aka a tiny dank Medieval hovel, sleeping on friends’ sofas until their spouses make them kick me out, or Super 8 motels, tent cities, storage units or my parents’ assisted living apartment if they were still alive.
I quit generally.
Work, whether “rewarded” by filthy capitalist lucre (or government or nonprofit lucre funded by our capitalist economy), is nothing more than a tragic existential trudge to meaningless oblivion.
Workers are in chains, huddled masses yearning to breathe free or suffering pointless meetings that suck the last breath from everyone there.
Why work, I ask myself, when I could be chasing rainbows, waterfalls, butterflies, or the Great Apes of Machu Pichu, pondering the Big Questions like why the meanest people now run America, or pursuing my bucket-list of amazing places to suffer crowds of bucket-list tourists.
Or I could simply resign myself to the fact that I can never resign.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.