September 25, 2001


I'm getting pretty darned good at quitting my job at The Totem Pole Company, I must say. What is this -- the second? third? eleventh? eight-hundred and seventy-fifth time that I've given them my notice?

Oh well. You know what they say: practice makes perfect. 

I've had the latest version of The Resignation Letter composed and ready to go for weeks now. (You've already seen the letter, so I'm not going to waste a lot of perfectly good *bandwidth molecules* reprinting it here. It's basically a reworking of the same old "Careful re-evaluation/Professional and personal goals/Will proudly include my experiences/Future jobsearch efforts/Blah blah blah" letter I used the last time I resigned ... and the time before that ... and the time before that.) After we got home from the honeymoon in July, I resurrected the letter from our hard drive, saved it to a floppy disk and started carrying it around with me everywhere I went.  Every couple of days or so -- whenever a new crisis erupted on the fourth floor, usually -- I would haul the disk out and update it. New letter date. New resignation date. New signature.

I figured that when the time was right to make my break I would know it, and I would be prepared.

And as it turns out ... yesterday was the day.

There was no single defining event that prompted it. Things were no worse and no better than usual yesterday. Nobody threw a stapler at me or called me "Dumbass" or engaged in a bloody knock-down-drag-out in the hallway outside my door. I just *knew* in my heart that the time had come ... the way you *know* that it's time to climb that mountain, or write that novel, or buy that little red Corvette. And so just before noon yesterday I walked into Jim's office, letter in hand, and quietly, soberly, determinedly, I explained to him that I had decided to resign from The TPC.

For real this time.

"Can I ask why you're leaving?" he asked.

Whoa. Talk about your golden opportunity! Here was my chance to let loose with two and a half years' worth of pent-up anger, disillusionment, exhaustion, disgust and frustration. I'm leaving, I could have said, all hot-headed and huffy, because I'm tired of boob jokes and pornographic e-mail and Testosterone Units addressing their comments to that middle button on my sweater! I could have tried to make him feel guilty. I want to find a job, I might have said sweetly, where my boss isn't in an even bigger hurry to quit the place than *I* am. I could have been practical. Let's face it, I could have said. I've already been to the top of the Totem Pole, admin-wise. There's no place to go now but down. Or sidewise some more. Or out. 

Or else I could have gone for the direct attack. I'm leaving The Totem Pole Company, I could have said, because the past two weeks have convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that life is precious, and that people should be kind to each other, and that I would rather not spend whatever valuable time I have left on earth -- whether three minutes or three decades -- surrounded by people who hate each other and betray each other and call each other 'Idiot' and 'Asshole' and 'Shithead' every day. Life is too short.

But in the end I went with the unembroidered reply. "I've thought about it carefully," I said simply, "and this just feels like the right time to move on."

And I left it at that.

We discussed the usual resignation-related blizz-blazz -- how much notice I should provide to HR (we agreed on two weeks), hiring/training a replacement, notifying Franz and the other senior managers, scheduling my exit interview, etc. etc. etc. He asked me if I had another job opportunity already lined up, and I said no, I was still in the process of looking. ("I'll write you a kick-ass letter of recommendation," he promised.) 

When our conversation had concluded, I reached out to shake Jim's hand. No hard feelings, right? He met my outstretched hand with his own, and started to shake it,
but then suddenly he said, "C'mere," and he pulled me towards him for a huge, sweaty bear-hug. As we embraced, he patted me on the back and said "I'll miss you."

Ironically, it was one of the finer moments I've ever had at The Totem Pole Company.

throw a rock