I burned a bridge in a spectacular way — how do I deal with everyone talking about it?

A reader writes:

I could use your advice on something. I know you’re not a fan of burning bridges, but I burned one, then dynamited the remains, then salted the surrounding earth.

I currently work as a senior director of IT development for a midsize firm. Prior to that, I was employed by a large foreign-based outsourcer who provided IT services to a large manufacturer. I was hired at an average market rate as a director of development, in charge of two teams totalling 15 people. I did a good job for them, with very positive reviews.

After seven months, one of my managers was replaced, with no notice, by a less competent and younger manager. I later found out that this man was the son of the best friend of North American BigBoss. After another six months, I received an email on a Friday afternoon at 3 pm telling me that I was being replaced as director (on the flimsiest of pretexts), by this manager (basically swapping positions with him), and that my salary was being “adjusted” by several tens of thousands of dollars starting on Monday. Five minutes later, an announcement of this was sent to my team as well as the manufacturing company.

Turns out that this kind of director role is critical for advancement within the foreign company, and it is clear that this was the intention of BigBoss to get his friend’s son into this role from the beginning. Needless to say, this was embarrassing and my protestations led nowhere; what BigBoss wanted, BigBoss got.

Fast forward four months. I found my current job, which is better in all respects. So, one week before a big deliverable was due, on a Friday at 3 pm, I sent an email to my boss and BigBoss telling them that I quit and giving two hours notice (the exact same as I was given for my demotion), and that I’d drop my laptop and badge off on the way out.

As you can imagine, it hit the fan. The major deliverable would certainly be substantially delayed, and BigBoss was truly outraged. I told him that I gave him the exact same consideration that he gave me, so how could he possibly be upset — I’m sure his friend’s son could figure it all out. I also offered to “consult” for them the next week (I was taking it off to go sit by the beach) for a ridiculous hourly rate that I knew they could never accept.

Needless to say, this was a great “drop the mic” moment and I enjoyed every second. You treat your people like garbage? You reap what you sow.

The problem is this. People have started talking about this in my industry, in a “did you hear? how cool is this!” way. People have congratulated me about it, and a speaker at a recent conference I went to high-fived me (the outsourcer is not popular).

I’m sure this will die down, but how do I handle this in the meantime when somebody “congratulates” me for burning the outsourcer? I’m a little concerned that this might follow me to my next job (probably not for a few years, but who knows?), so I’m also interested in your take on how to frame this going forward. I’m not at all concerned with how I handled this, but I would like to have a strategy of dealing with any blowback.

Ahhhh, I love a good quitting story.

Sometimes that’s at odds with my desire to urge people to protect their reputation / future references / etc. And normally I wouldn’t condone intentionally leaving with two hours of notice as a way to screw your employer.

But sometimes there is sufficient provocation, and it sounds like you had it. They cut your salary by tens of thousands of dollars with two hours of warning time in order to give a job to someone’s friend’s less qualified son? They deserved every bit of what you did, and there is a magnificent poetry in the way you did it.

For the sake of thoroughness, I should note that there could end up being consequences to this that ultimately make you wish you’d handled it a little differently … but it’s really up to you whether you find it worth it or not, and it sounds like you do.

But I think you’re smart to have a strategy for any blowback. When someone congratulates you, I’d play it cool — don’t whoop it up with them or deliver a sermon on retribution, but instead calmly say something like, “It just made sense within the practices they’d set up” or even, “I don’t wish them any harm, of course — but was happy to come over to NewCompany.” (You might bristle at “I don’t wish them any harm,” but it’ll serve you well to say that. And it might even make you look cooler.)

If it comes up in future job interviews, you could frame it this way: “You know, it was a tough situation. I stand by the way I left, but I also can’t imagine running into that very specific context a second time. I’ve been lucky to work for really good companies both before and since then.”

So the overall vibe isn’t “ha ha, let’s laugh at the (well-deserved) harm I caused them” — which an interviewer or another bystander could be alarmed by — but rather your tone and demeanor should convey “it’s a shame that was necessary, and I am a well-adjusted, solid person who doesn’t burn bridges with abandon.” It’s okay to privately think the former, but the latter will serve you better as a public stance.

{ 340 comments… read them below }

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Yep, I can totally savor this. I hope big boss continues floundering with the consequences of his decisions.

    2. Artemesia*

      Me too. I think two hours notice they are cutting your pay by tens of thousands is all the context needed when the issue of ‘notice’ comes up in the future. And Alison’s advice is golden — by underplaying it and ‘wishing them only well’ — the LW comes across as cool rather than bitter. Kudos to him; well played. (or kudos to her as the case may be)

        1. NW Mossy*

          This one definitely calls for “chill yoga teacher with cucumber slices over her closed eyes” cool – calm, unruffled, but with an underlying warmth tied to her compassion for the universe.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, there is an entire additional level of context if it’s a “her”. And it becomes even easier to tell other people about being given two hours of notice that the salary was going to be reduced by tens of thousands “…so that I could be replaced BY A MAN.”

        1. VeryAnon*

          Also reading between the lines – was she still having to achieve the actual *work* of the director role while Baby Nepotism took the credit?

          1. Hills to Die on*

            It sure sounds like it. I’ve been there. “Can I please do all the same stuff as before, but with your ‘oversight’ mucking it up so that I take all the blame for any failures and you take all the credit for every accomplishment (including the things I have been doing all along)?”

            Pound sand. I’m glad OP did it.

        2. Rhoda*

          I ran the text through GenderAnalyzer_v5 and it came up with 54% likelihood of female, 46% male. Since that site tends to skew towards female, it could go either way.

            1. Ms Jackie*

              i just did some fun testing too! Apparently i write about 80% like a man even though I am a woman. I guess working with mostly men has has an impact :-)

            2. Rob aka Mediancat*

              Neither did I. Checked several long Facebook posts of mine, and they range from 90% to 54% female.

              I, note, am male.

          1. AnnaBananna*

            (and for the record, my most recent email came up 94% male, which I’m not, so….I’m intrigued)

            1. KayDeeAye (a.k.a. Kathleen_A)*

              My emails track as female (though not overwhelmingly female). More formal writing tracks as male, though, which is…interesting. Not sure exactly what to make of that. Less emotion, maybe? Fewer mentions of unicorns, flowers and makeup? Kidding – I think.

              1. Anax*

                More direct language, I suspect.

                AFAB folks are socialized to use indirect language and qualifiers to soften their tone – things like “a little”, “maybe”, and “I think”.

                In formal language, that indirectness can come across as wordiness or be out of sync with business norms. (92% male)

                I think that when we use formal language, indirectness can sometimes feel a little wordy or out of place. (65% female)

                AMAB folks are less socialized to manage the feelings of others, so they’re less likely to use these softeners.

                In some settings, that’s appropriate – if I’m writing a formal academic paper, it’s probably better to be precise and not use language like “sometimes” and “I think.”

                In more social contexts – including work settings like management – it’s important to convey your emotional state and not just data, which makes tone modulation a useful tool. (See also: Terse messages from managers making employees afraid they’re in trouble.)

                It’s fun to play with the gendered expectations, though.

                1. SusanIvanova*

                  I wonder how much context matters? At work I’m direct: this is code, it does this thing, this is how you use it.

                  But back in the days of Usenet, I picked up the habit of using qualifiers because I was on a protest forum and the group we were protesting would jump on any statement about them that used absolutes. “BadGroup does X” – instant “Not all BadGroupers!”. “BadGroup frequently does X” – well, they do, it’s been proven in court.

                2. Junior Dev*

                  another plot twist to this is that if she’s a woman in a male-dominated role it’s possible she’s adjusted her speech/written tone into a more “masculine” style in order to get by in that environment.

                  I am a woman in software, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with colleagues about how much success we’ve had doing things that just seem over-the-top aggressive and everyone else just kind of … rolls with it. This week I dropped sort of a “I’m going to manage the project this way, everyone else can deal” bombshell in a meeting, was terrified that people would get bent out of shape…and everyone was fine with it.

                  I’ve also seen my mom and other professional women of her generation be sort of over-the-top assertive and blunt in a way that may be in response to the idea that women are “overly emotional” or “indirect” or whatever.

                  So I guess what I’m saying is that if the text analyzer picks up on gendered aspects of speech or writing, that the specific individual women who have spent time in male-dominated environments may skew “masculine” compared to the average women, in terms of whatever traits that software is looking at.

          2. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

            Well, now I’m off to analyze 5+ years of emails from when I was a part-time CSR, versus my day job in accounting.

          3. Ra94*

            This is fascinating- apparently my work product is 80% male, but my texts to friends and family are 99% female. (I am a woman). Obviously I’ve gotten used to using a particular tone in my professional life!

            1. Sally*

              It’s been years since I read it, but as I recall, in Deborah Tannen’s book about gender and language, You Just Don’t Understand, she wrote that when men and women are together, all of them converse like men. When it’s women only, they converse like women.

          4. Alexandra*

            I wish we could report back on the success to help refine it! I put the url of a report I wrote in, and apparently I’m 100% male (spoiler, I’m 100% not).

            I suspect the fact that it was trained on blogs, which tend to be more casual/colloquial mean that it rather falls apart on technical or formal documents.

            1. Tina*

              Eh, it thinks my blog was written by a man (it was not and I write SUPER colloquially on the blog), so.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Honestly, in IT, I’d say the additional context if she’s a woman is all negative. Actions that are seen a “Boss Moves” by men are seen as “bitchy,” “flaky,” and “emotional” when done by a woman. I’d say she’d need to be extra careful to keep all emotion out of her responses when talking about it and be extra clear about the “I simply followed the procedure the company had established regarding how much notice we give for these things.”

          1. selena81*

            Exactly: fair or not but you don’t want to come across as ‘the unstable biatch that got her job through positive discrimination’.
            Same when LW is afro-american: more risk of being labeled as ‘trouble maker’ for behavior that would be applauded and then quickly forgotten when coming from a white man.

            And this may be a bit controversial, but i believe the overweight also get slammed with ‘lack of self control’ or ‘scary/pushy’ for much smaller offenses then their thinner counterparts

        4. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          Mmmm…let’s not jump to conclusions we don’t even need.

          The company behaved crappily whether or not gender was an issue. Best way to muddy the waters here is to make an accusation that isn’t backed up by evidence, which management can then use to play the victim.

          Even in a world of perfect gender equality, once in a while some people will screw over other people and sometimes the victim will happen to be a woman and the aggressor will happen to be a man.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Absolutely agreed. The very calm, underplayed “wish them well” is going to make OP look like a Jedi master with Yoda-like calm, which can only enhance OP’s reputation.

        1. Parenthetically*

          OP is currently extremely cool, but this kind of low-key benevolence is going to launch her to “Peggy Olson walking into McCann in slo-mo with Bert Cooper’s Octopus painting” levels of cool.

    3. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Yep. This story absolutely brightened my day.

      That said, I bet it was stressful and infuriating and awful to live that situation, and I’m sorry the OP was forced into heroism.

      Some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them by a #$#% boss.

      1. Jennifer*

        A superhero origin story. Wonder Woman striding through No Man’s Land, nonchalantly swiping bullets away.

        1. Shadow Moon*

          One of my favorite scenes from any movie ever!

          OP, you rocked it. Sounds like this employer got its long-overdue due. Alison’s advice is solid.

    4. Another Sarah*

      I legit cannot picture OP leaving that office any way but in slow motion while the building explodes behind her

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I seriously want to stand on my desk and slow clap for OP—this entire story is masterful and glorious.

    6. Puffin*

      I think any of us who are having a crappy time are standing up and cheering like made for you. Well done, you’re a hero!

    7. Gumby*

      The only way this could have been better was if the hourly rate OP quoted somehow worked out to be exactly the difference between the old salary and new salary over the 4 months post-demotion.

      Like, over those 4 months you made $10,000 less than you would have made over those same 4 months at your previous salary. Your hourly rate should be a minimum of $250/hr. for one 40-hour week plus enough to cover any tax implications of consulting, benefits, maybe add labor overhead if you know the company’s rate.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      Right? I laughed when I read this – that company had it coming. I wish somebody would cut my pay by tens of thousands of dollars with a couple hours notice to give my position away to somebody’s kid! And an inexperienced one at that. They got what they deserved.

    2. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

      Living the dream for all of us screwed over by our employers. I am in awe, sir or madam.

  1. WellRed*

    I expected much worse. Sorry OP, this story is fantastic! Thank you for doing what so many can’t.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. Honestly I think this was burning a bridge. IMO no rational person will see dynamited the remains, then salted the surrounding earth. The timing a week before delivery so it was likely missed is (not) unfortunate.

      But really as a manager of a development team should your departure one week before delivery throw off the schedule that much? You’re one person who could win the lottery or get hit by a bus any day of the week.

      1. Juli G.*

        Yeah, I agree that it was just a burned bridge. OP didn’t cause any malicious harm to the project like deleting files. They simply left.

      2. Venus*

        The fact that one person leaving resulted in such a big delay is likely only one sign within a large sea of serious dysfunction with the company. If the company was so under-resourced or badly managed then that isn’t the OP’s problem.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Exactly. They lit the bridge on fire and the OP was all “Here’s some gas, you dicks!”

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I mean, I agree that OP burned an already-burning bridge that the employer set on fire. But I think it’s fair to say OP added gasoline or napalm to the bridge-fire. That said, the tit for tat nature of giving notice means OP definitely did NOT dynamite the remains or salt the earth level. Big Boss did both those things to himself.

      4. JDC*

        Just what I was thinking. What if he was hit by a bus? Never rely on only one person or their control your business.

      5. Engineer Girl*

        This is an important point. The nepotism hire had been in the director positions for four months. Anyone that was truly qualified to hold the position should have been qualified to handle the delivery.

        If the company was negatively impacted by OPs resignation it merely exposes the dysfunction in the hiring and promotion process.

    2. LawLady*

      Yeah, when I read “IT” and “burned/dynamited/salted”, I was afraid that OP, like, took down the firm’s security software or deleted files permanently or something. Those would be bad, regardless of treatment.

      But this? It’s not the most professional way to quit, but it was entirely proportional to the way he had been treated.

      1. Doug Judy*

        That is what I was expecting too. I work closely with our IT developers and a week out from delivery, at least here, means code is frozen and final testing is being done. Not an ideal time to quit but also not a nuclear bomb I was expecting.

        1. Shiny Onix*

          Doug Judy, I feel that this quitting story is about your level of beauty. All it needs is a recording of the OP responding to the big boss, slightly mistimed.

        2. Tiger Snake*

          Side note, but I so miss the days when people respected the code freeze. Now days all the projects I see, the code is still being written even while the deployment is literally in progress. Its like students trying to submit their assignment right at midnight.

  2. pleaset*

    Worth noting that actually the company burned the bridge. Not the OP.

    “did you hear? how cool is this!”

    This is good. It might be hurt you ability to get into some companies, but that’s a feature, not a bug, of your new reputation.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yep! “Apparently y’all’s policy is two hours notice so here you go, boo boo. Deuces!” I imagine her walking out in slow motion with her hair blowing in breeze that seems to follow her everywhere as all the cube workers slowly stand and give her slow clap.

        Somebody needs to make a movie about this.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I love this imagery.

          I’m also imagining OP putting on a pair of sunglasses, in slo-mo.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Ha! That reminds me of the Nancy Pelosi meme where she’s wearing a red coat and leaving the White House that’s floating around on the internet.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          OMG this made my day—the imagery made me LOL. If you’re writing the screenplay, Jennifer, then this is a movie I’d pay to see.

        3. Southern Ladybug*

          Yes, “I wish them well. I was honestly surprised by their reaction – I followed the same timeline they had established internally for major staffing and employment changes.”

    1. Lance*

      Yup. The fact that these congrats are coming in so frequently is proof positive that the company you left is not seen in a good light, and you did just the sort of thing a lot of people in your industry, it sounds, wish they could do. Of course, don’t flaunt it — company’s reputation aside, it is of course still not a good thing you did — but be secure in the fact that this doesn’t seem like a sort of thing that’ll bite you in any way you should care about.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yep. It seems clear that the company is (rightfully) viewed as the bad guy here, not OP, and I’d bet its bad reputation preceded them even before OP so spectacularly mic-dropped. I mean, adjusting your salary by tens of thousands with two hours notice?! Nah.

      2. Jennifer*

        The company needs to be worried about their reputation, not the OP. Agreed. If I were job hunting I’d think long and hard before I applied here, even though the types of roles I’d be applying for are totally different.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      Yeah, though, I do think if you play it down a bit the way Allison suggests, after giving the high five add in a “yeah, I didn’t want it to come that, but unfortunately it was an untenable situation and at the end of the day I had to look out for my best interests. I really think it’s going to be a once in a lifetime thing.”

      Basically, don’t say they didn’t screw up, but just add a little “I didn’t want it to go there…” and I think the majority of people would understand, and it’ll keep you from looking like the A-hole. Though since you didn’t do any real, permanent damage to the company it probably isn’t as big as you’re thinking it is, especially because it does sound like the company has a bit of a reputation already.

      1. Hallowflame*

        Yes, this is exactly the script I was trying to think of for future job interviews! It shows you recognize that the way you left wasn’t exactly professional or advisable, puts the responsibility on your old employer (the true bridge-burner), and allows you to stand by your actions without framing it as a habit or character trait.

  3. Jamie*

    As a former director of IT at two (albeit smaller) companies my hat is off to you!

    It’s rare to quit like that, but it’s rare for that kind of provocation to warrant it.

  4. AppleStan*

    I really thought this was going to be something that was horrific…I’m honestly so glad it wasn’t.

    It sounds as if you didn’t really burn a bridge…more like they burned the bridge first, and you escaped over the smoking remains to a better opportunity.

    The fact that the outsourcer is not well-liked OR well-respected in the industry makes it seem as if your exit was definitely a lot more professional than it could have been, and you still would have come away as “the cool kid” – but the way you did it makes you come across as “The Cool Adult.”

    I think Alison’s advice is best (as it always is, IMHO) and you’ll do just fine.

    Congratulations on your new opportunities.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      The fact that the outsourcer is not well-liked OR well-respected in the industry makes it seem as if your exit was definitely a lot more professional than it could have been, and you still would have come away as “the cool kid”

      Yeah, an old work pal of mine once worked for a notoriously crap bank, and on her last day at the office, she flipped a table on her way out the door – she had a new job, so she didn’t care. Many people still share that story with her, and it has not negatively impacted her career at all.

      1. anon for this*

        Yep! The CEO at my last job (“Mark”) founded his company after his original employer was merged into a much larger corporation, where the corp’s Prez/CEO (“Brad”) was and is known in our industry as a Sh*tty Person. Brad was leading a meeting with all the senior officials, including Mark, when Mark stood up in front of everyone and told Brad to go to hell, and was frogmarched out of the building by security…

        …And then Mark immediately walked a few blocks over to the office space he had already rented and the exec assistant he had secretly poached from Brad’s company (who had literally been answering Mark’s phone with a fake name so no one from Brad’s company – or Brad’s clients – would know she was a double agent in the off-chance that they called), and officially launched the company the next day.

        That will always be my favorite quitting story. I won’t name names here because I like to maintain my relative anonymity, but Brad is a very public figure and I don’t think anyone here would be sad for him if they knew who he is.

      1. Quill*

        “We saved money by not spending tens of thousands of dollars on fire prevention!”

        – Outsourcing company, shortly before the first spark on the bridge

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              Also why New Orleans was decimated by Katrina. For decades, they were given money from the Federal government for upkeep and improvements on the levees, but spent it on anything and everything else. Then the big one came, and the levees couldn’t hold.

  5. Seifer*

    I am cackling. That’s the kind of quitting story everyone wishes they could have. And yes, the company was the one that burned the bridge, and instead of trying to figure out how to rebuild it, OP merely walked away. Golden.

  6. CatCat*

    Glorious. They definitely got to reap what they sewed and it sounds like your poor treatment was not the only seed sewn given other people’s reactions. They already had a bad reputation. Sounds like your reputation is stronger than theirs.

    I agree you’re smart to think down the line here after the excitement of someone sticking it to them wears off.

    But damn, that was amazing.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Nah, it was sown, they sowed it. But, y’know, meaning was successfully communicated and this is not a formal piece of writing so really: does it matter?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It certainly doesn’t matter to my phone’s speech to text interface.
          I sometimes accept a lot higher garbled factor…and I’m a former copy-editor who’s a card-carrying grammar cop. ;)

  7. blackcat*

    This is a thing of beauty: “I told him that I gave him the exact same consideration that he gave me, so how could he possibly be upset”
    People who don’t learn the lesson of treat others as you would like to be treated young need to learn it later in life.

  8. Autistic Farm Girl*

    I’d love to be about 5% as brave as you were when quitting this horrible job! Good on you!!

  9. Kitty Cathleen*

    Honestly, it sounds like the company burnt the bridge here. I’m impressed by how cool you managed to stay during the four months you were job hunting. Sounds like you set yourself up well and have earned some respect in your industry by standing up to this employer!

  10. Zip Silver*

    It’s definitely situational. Downplay it in an interview, but if a rando says “how cool is that?” at a conference you can downplay it but still play into it with a response mentioning that you’re normally not that great at comebacks or something along those lines.

  11. ellex42*

    LW, even if this does come back to bite you on the ass someday, I sincerely doubt you’ll ever really regret how you quit. Also, a high five from me to you, because that was an extremely satisfying story to read.

    Alison’s advice is spot on, though: gloating is never attractive. Mild regret – “I’m sorry it had to happen that way” – and avoiding dwelling on that “unfortunate series of events” is the wise course to take.

  12. Murphy*

    Me reading the title: Burning bridges isn’t a great idea…
    Me reading the third paragraph: WELL THEY CAN GET EFFED THEN

    Good for you.

    1. EMW*

      My reaction exactly. “Oh no, here’s another post where Alison has to explain that burning bridges feels good in the moment but not later… ”

      This is glorious and I hope you have been able to celebrate the quitting appropriately with friends.

    2. Mary Richards*

      Same here! I was really expecting that OP did something awful. OP, your former employer did something awful and you refused to just take it. Good for you!

    3. Drew*

      Me reading the title: Burning bridges isn’t a great idea…
      Me reading the third paragraph: WELL THEY CAN GET EFFED THEN

      A perfect summary.

    4. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Same here. If ever a bridge deserved to be burned, this is it right here.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I had virtually an identical reaction. I was expecting some sort of mea culpa on a professional error, but I was totally on the OMG WALK OUT IMMEDIATELY team by para. 3.

      I hope OP got immense satisfaction out of this and that there continue to be no ramifications.

    6. Snark*

      Me reading the title: Oh, how did this chump screw up? Can’t wait to read this.
      Me reading the third paragraph: NOTICE ME SEMPAI

    7. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

      My thoughts exactly. OP, I salute you!

      Also: I know you’re not a fan of burning bridges, but I burned one, then dynamited the remains, then salted the surrounding earth. I really love this sentence (while technically not true, like many others have said before it is the company that burned the bridge, you just managed to still cross it and use it to your advantage). If you ever get tired of IT, I think creative writing is the way to go for you ;-)

  13. Amber Rose*

    I absolutely understand why people are high-fiving you. This was less of a burning bridge moment, and more of a “cool guys don’t look at explosions” moment. You tossed that grenade over your shoulder and calmly sauntered away and I love it.

    That said, Alison is right. Let other people gloat for you, take quiet pleasure in both what you did and how people are reacting, but keep a calm and neutral face otherwise. Retribution is all well and good, but you don’t necessarily wanna be known as the poor winner, so to speak.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      That’s a great analogy. And just like the cool guy who doesn’t look at the explosion, OP should just saunter on with their life. When others say “Wow, did you really blow that up?” OP gets to be the cool action hero and brush it off like it was nothing, moving on to the next plot point.

  14. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Given some of the crazy stories of corporate malfeasance I’ve heard coming out of the IT/tech industry (be it IBM flagrantly flagging all of the “olds” and pushing them out, or Disney forcing people to train their outsourced replacements, then firing them) I imagine most people will side with you and this won’t harm you in the slightest. Unless perhaps you apply to IBM or Disney.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I left IBM three years ago and I still get LinkedIn invites from their in-house and external recruiters. Sometimes I need to borrow some hands since I don’t have enough middle fingers.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        “Sometimes I need to borrow some hands since I don’t have enough middle fingers.” dying…I’m stealing that.
        I’ll add a variation: “Can you give me a hand? I don’t have enough middle fingers.”

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I honestly can’t decide which consulting company I want this to have happened to more, because I can think of several victims that absolutely deserve it. Those companies treat people so poorly.

  15. Lora*

    This is GREAT. Other things I’ve said about horrible ex-employers, when the reaction is, “oh my god, how did you survive those lunatics?!?”:
    “I wish them all the luck in the world, of course” *smile sweetly*
    “It was a very special place, and I learned a lot”
    “You know, I really miss working with (good people I’ll actually miss) and I hope to keep in touch with a lot of the wonderful people there”

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Yes. Doublespeak is your friend here, OP.

      I can actually say “{Toxic Ex-Boss} really inspired me to excel in my later career” with a straight face. It’s true! Because I never, ever, ever want to go back to that jerk, and I want him to marinate in how bad he looks for driving me away.

      A pensive look off into the distance with a “Haven’t heard from them lately; I wonder how they’re getting on” is unobjectionable, and may even net you some good gossip.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’ve definitely used “I learned a lot about leadership from [abusive bully ex-boss].” It’s not untrue. I did, in fact, learn a metric ton about how leadership should absolutely not be wielded as a weapon.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I usually say something like, “I am grateful for the experience at [ex company]. I learned a lot of important lessons on how to treat people.” I always knew how to treat people, of course, but working there really made it hit home and, as a result of how I was treated, I am much more aware of how my actions affect others.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        bad bosses can be great teachers. I have learned a lot of what I don’t want to be from some idiots and assholes. And fortunately, some amazing bosses as well.

  16. Former Usher*

    “…giving two hours notice (the exact same as I was given for my demotion)” I’ve told this story before but my salary was once cut by 30% with two weeks notice. When I later resigned with two weeks notice, they were offended that I didn’t give them a month’s notice!

      1. The Original K.*

        I was thinking the same thing. I’d give a same-day notice in that situation. People get the notice they deserve.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve got a big ol’ crocodile tear for your former employer. I wouldn’t have given any notice at all. I would have found a job then done a total “bye now”.

    2. Flyleaf*

      I have a friend that was in a similar situation. Was told on a Wednesday that the was being demoted immediately. He was pissed. So he called a friend of his and had a new job by the end the next day.. Then he simply stopped coming in to his “old” job. Didn’t answer any calls or emails. Completely ghosted them. It took them a couple weeks before they stopped paying him.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Something like this happened to my mother early in her career. Her new manager did all kinds of shady things, and when she reported him, he tried to fire her. Within 24 hr she had an offer from another division at that giant company, which she took and got to watch with glee as Shady McShaderson crashed and burned, hard.

  17. MistOrMister*

    I am usually not a fan of dramatic quitting stories but this one was a thing of beauty! I agree that the furor will likely die down soon and to just keep things casual if it comes up. The fact that people seem to be taking it as justifiable makes me think that it won’t hurt your reputation even if it is one of those stories that keeps getting pulled out randomly for the rest of eternity.

    1. Artemesia*

      If the OP is cool then it will help their reputation — they will be seen as clever but as solid and measured. If they gloat, the bitterness/malicious tinge will affect their reputation. Being cool keeps the focus on the company — ‘haha, they gave him 2 hours notice, so he gave them 2 hours notice.’

    2. Juli G.*

      Agree. I’m incensed they didn’t have a face to face conversation about the demotion with him – just sending an email.

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      It’s made my year, honestly. If this story was a film, I’d save it into my Favourites on Netflix and watch it as my feelgood movie.

  18. Batgirl*

    OP, that was honestly epic and if anything it shows that you understand acutely the need for employer-employee give and take.
    I wouldnt let anyone describe this as a failure to give notice, you made your objections clear to the role switcheroo four months earlier. They should have decided then if Bestie’s son was worth losing you. Also, you can honestly point to your offer to consult over the deadline which, at any price, is honestly more gracious than they deserved. I would go with something like “Yes it’s a shame they didn’t want to take me up on my offer to consult but I guess it was their call to choose Bob to run point there!”

    1. Essess*

      This is great! This shows you didn’t leave them high-and-dry and offered to assist them. So the crash-and-burn result would be from their refusal to use your offered services.

  19. awesome*

    “(You might bristle at “I don’t wish them any harm,” but it’ll serve you well to say that. And it might even make you look cooler.)”

    So true. Love this part.

      1. Batgirl*

        Oh, I could, you just need to master the art of the silent conclusion.

        E.g. “I don’t wish them any harm” (because their nepotist hiring practices and my own badassery takes care of that, leaving the birthday candles free for pleasant thoughts)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Or “I don’t wish them any harm” …because only one person in management is deserving of hatred. Even bestie’s son is just a cog in the wheel, not the perpetrator.

      2. MarsJenkar*

        I know I couldn’t. It falls clearly outside my limits of how far I can bend the truth before *I* break. I’d be as professional as possible within my limits (she’s right on that point), but saying those six words is, for me, a bridge too far.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      I mean, revel in it all you want, privately, but always play it cool and take the high road in public. Best of both worlds.

    2. Kes*

      Honestly, I don’t know if I would say this – I feel like it risks coming across as disingenuous, since OP was in fact just fine with the damage to their project timelines. I like the other option “It just made sense within the practices they’d set up” which is true but can be said matter-of-factly to show you aren’t generally vindictive.

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I agree that you just want to play it cool, to remind them that it’s not something you’d do to just anyone. You were treated horrifically and most companies are going to be shocked and in horror that you were casually demoted with hours notice and salary cut so drastically. What a sack of losers those guys are, I’m glad you tripped them up on your way out.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      Agreed, I think especially when it gets trotted out at a Happy Hour or whatever as an ‘isn’t this epic?’ story a quick little, “yeah, it was certainly a once in a lifetime experience!” or something along those lines will help cement the it-wasn’t-you-it-was-the-company situation. Though, at the same time it sounds like the company’s rep precedes it, so I wouldn’t worry to much about it.

  21. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    I don’t really like the phrasing on the future job interview suggestions. They seem awkward to me. content is fine, just order to the wording. I’d probably say something like, “You know, I can’t imagine running into that very specific context a second time. I’ve been lucky to work for really good companies both before and since then. It was a tough situation, but I stand by my actions.” Or You know, it was a tough situation. I also can’t imagine running into that very specific context a second time. I’ve been lucky to work for really good companies both before and since then. So I stand by the actions.

    I’m also wondering how much of the situation is common knowledge? just the quitting or the context to it. Since that can cause some differences in how the resignation is viewed by others (especially in hiring)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’re not a bad person. Nobody was actually hurt, they just got their feelings damaged and they had to scramble for their deliverable.

      Jackholes deserve what they get! Don’t make enjoying some swift lowkey vigilante justice make you feel like you should be marked a “bad person” ;)

    2. Liane*

      Why do you think loving this makes you a “very bad person”?
      Are you BigBoss’s SO or the BFF whose son BigBoss hired?

      As for this epic, I want to see it made into a movie!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s the same thought process behind “I was bad and ate a brownie”, SI doesn’t really think she’s bad but society conditions us to think that “revenge” is only for bad-people. It’s one of those things I really want to squash out of our self deprecating world.

    3. Batgirl*

      Company stiffs hired person on pay, hired person stops working on a job before point of conclusion unless more pay is forthcoming.

      It’s not bad to approve of this!

    4. Tequila Mockingbird*

      Oh, please! If it’s “very bad” to roll around in some delicious schadenfreude, then bend us all over for some spankings!

  22. EPLawyer*

    Right now, this is big news. Considering how the outsourcers seems to be viewed, it is not currently hurting your reputation. By the time you are interviewing for your future position, something else will have caught people’s attention. If you are asked why you left that job you can casually say “the situation changed and it was time to move on.” Which is completely true in every respect.

    But yeah loyalty flows both ways. Employers somehow want undying loyalty from their employees (even working on “sick” days to show “committment”) but don’t return it. I’m surprised you didn’t walk out on the Friday they told you were you demoted and your pay cut. You’re a better person than I am.

    1. Product Person*

      It was in OP’s interest stay and leave on her/his own terms. Looks like it took the OP four months to find the right position, and resigning with a better job lined up makes the story much better.

    2. sometimeswhy*

      I was thinking something similar. I was briefly well-known in my industry because my internal, unfiltered (entirely inappropriate, profane, but widely agreed with) comments on a national document made it into my organizations actually submitted responses. The infamy lasted about six months and it was the both last time I wrote anything but publishable comments on anything generated for work, internal or otherwise.

  23. Shoes On My Cat*

    Beautiful. What a perfect, perfect situation. And then Alison’s suggestion “calmly say something like, “It just made sense within the practices they’d set up” is such a wonderful, understated BURN. Slow clap to ya both

  24. AdAgencyChick*

    I’m standing up and clapping slowly in my mind. (I want to do it for real, but that’d probably get me some strange looks in the office.)

  25. Rebecca*

    I love this letter so much. Good for you OP!

    I know the convention is that we must give notice, as employees, but in reality, our employers do things when it suits their business model, like layoffs, downsizing, rightsizing, streamlining, consolidating responsibilities, changing job descriptions, scaling back benefits, the list goes on and on…but employees are expected to give notice. The company I work for just laid off 70 people on a Friday AM (lots of employees so this didn’t trigger the WARN notice). No notice, nothing. I heard one of them was on vacation overseas when it happened! And like Former Usher said above, when we give 2 week’s notice, how many of them come back with “you must give us more time”. I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    1. Kyrielle*

      A previous company of mine, for reasons I do not and never have understood, did layoffs while a couple of the people being laid off were *at client sites training clients*.

      …and, then they weren’t.

      I have *no clue* why that was done. I can’t imagine getting pulled out of training a client and having to go back, check out of the hotel, and head home. I can’t imagine being the client whose trainer doesn’t come back. I assume they had someone else there to talk to the client, but I don’t actually know that.

      1. WellRed*

        Wasn’t there a letter about such a situation and the company left him stranded on the other side of the country?

  26. LKW*

    I was expecting awful behavior, this was straight up GLORIOUS.

    OP the wording Allison gives is good. But I think you also have the opportunity to highlight your ethics: “When people play straight, I play straight.”

    When people don’t play straight, you’re not going to break the law, but business norms can be left aside.

  27. BurnBurnBurn*

    I internally cheered at my desk, and I would high five you if I could.
    And I wouldn’t worry too much… it looks like the general consensus among people hearing your story is that what you did was pretty frickin awesome. I think if you use Alison’s script (or something along those lines), any reasonable interviewer wouldn’t see it as an issue. And if they have ‘major concerns’ over the way you quit, then they’re probably the kind of people who thinks it’s okay to treat their employees the way that company treated you. So it’d be no loss on your end.

  28. RC Rascal*

    OP–Senior people (which it sounds like you are) can get away with this kind of stuff. It it comes up in the future, I would simply say (with deadpan expression) that “My resignation aligned with company culture.” Then I would carry on the conversation with the importance of culture, and add some examples of your Agility and ability to adapt to different work environments. To me this story also illustrates a competency of Courage, and I would prepare some examples of how you used that power for good in your various roles. You will carry more power if you are very professional in the rest of your interactions (no high fiving at the conference over your former employers well deserved dilemma).

    1. AKchic*

      OMGs. “my resignation aligned with that company’s culture” is actually the *perfect* phrase. It throws both shade and responsibility right back at them. But I would follow up with “under normal circumstances, I would never advise anyone to take similar steps, and I’ve been fortunate to only have one company with such a strange / unusual work environment”. Don’t outright call it toxic, but definitely highlight how unusual their treatment was.

      1. Snark*

        Oh my god, that is perfect. I do agree that following that up with your coda, or even just “I wouldn’t do the same thing under normal circumstances, of course, but it aligned with their culture and practices.”

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      My resignation aligned with the company culture might be THE BEST LINE EVER for this situation – you and OP are at genius level. AKchic’s followup is also a thing of beauty

    3. AuroraLight37*

      “My resignation aligned with company culture.”

      I just had to drop something behind the reference desk so I could get my face under control. Cackling madly unnerves the general public.

  29. Oscar Martinez (for today)*

    “Ahhhh, I love a good quitting story.” I’d like to have one of my own some day. But I dream…..

    seriously though, OP, so glad this worked out for you and how you handled it. They deserved it. Agree 100% with Alison’s advice for handling this moving forward. Thank you for sharing this glorious story with us. We all need to see a win every now and then.

  30. Amethystmoon*

    If someone cut my pay that much, I’d have no choice but to find a new job as soon as possible, since I’d be making minimum wage. I’m single and my rent just went up $40 a month, and I have significant student loans to pay back. So I don’t blame the OP for doing what he/she needed to do. I say kudos. For some people, their paychecks are survival. Even if it wasn’t necessarily to the point of OP would be eating ramen noodles on a daily basis, there is a certain amount most people need to pay their basic bills without going deep into debt and having even more bills.

    1. Works in IT*

      Or even just going from a position of being able to save money while paying for little luxuries to a position where you’re paying all your bills but can’t save, or can’t pay for luxuries anymore. Little things like being able to occasionally go to a nice restaurant for dinner, or being able to buy supplies for crafting projects, make my stressful job much easier. If my pay was suddenly reduced to the point that I couldn’t afford to buy hobby supplies, my ability to destress after work each day would plummet, even though I would still be capable of paying the bills.

      1. VeryAnon*

        Yeah – my pay has gone up recently by what would be a negligible amount to most people on here, but for me it means I can afford things not essential to survival for the first time in years.

    2. Coverage Associate*

      Yeah, I am thinking of the times our health benefits changed on 2 days’ notice. It was really hard, and could have been about $10,000 more out of pocket for the year because we have lots of health needs. It made me very angry at my employer.

      1. WellRed*

        That’s pretty shady. Can an HR person here weigh in on whether this is legal? (I cringe typing that).

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, you can change it but that’s bizarre that it’s two days notice. Usually switching means you have to fill out new enrollment forms and that takes longer and requires notifications. They’re really slimy and may be cutting corners. But there’s nothing illegal about changing the benefits, ever. They could just dump their health insurance totally due to the costs, that’s what happened a lot pre-ACA.

      1. Alexandra*

        Not always possible, unfortunately. I live in a city with a housing crisis and lots of students. The new government announced that students would receive an extra $50 a week in their allowance, hooray! Over the next couple of weeks, about 70% of the cheap accommodation in town also coincidentally went up $50 a week. No way to win.

      2. Gumby*

        That is very location specific. (Where I live a $40 increase would be a gift; $100 increases are about the lowest I’ve heard of, frequently higher, sometimes more often than once a year! But the Bay Area is wackadoo like that.)

        Still, how much would it cost to move? Would you have to rent a UHaul? Pay movers? Buy boxes? Take any time off work at all? How large is the “just moved Target run” likely to be? Even the most bare-bones move is likely to cost a few hundred dollars. Plus moving is just a pain in the patootie.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Mine went up $65 and I was relieved. That’s a 5% increase, the last one some landlord tried to drop on me was 27% and so upwards of $250.

        It’s a regional thing. We have no caps in place and housing is still limited. So that’s the nightmare everyone faces with every landlord in the city/metro area.

        And I live in a cruddy area, that made a cab driver question me about it the last time I had to take one home from the airport. “Has it changed, this area used to be…bad.” “I like it, it’s fine, I mind my own business…” [And yeah, it’s the cheapest option because I’m cheap in order to not be broke.]

    3. Ellie*

      Yes, there are always exceptions to the ‘never quit without notice’ rule and ‘cutting my pay’ is right up there and just underneath ‘not paying me at all’ and ‘telling me to do something illegal’. I wouldn’t even call what the OP did as unprofessional, if you cut someone’s pay, you’d have to expect most people to leave over it. It’s entirely their own fault.

  31. Data Analyst*

    Oh my gosh, bravo! It helps tremendously that this company already has a bad reputation, and that you have a very marketable skill set. Makes it much less likely that it will haunt you too badly.

  32. YetEvenAnotherAlison*

    OP – You ROCK!!!!!! Good for you. My jaw dropped when I read what the company did to you. You treated them the way that they treated you – they established how they do business. You simply adhered to their example while employed at the company. The audacity of their indignation in being treated in the exact manner they treated you – WOW! It sounds like the company is known for the crappy way the treat people. I think you are fine – if anything you established yourself, for those that know the real story, as someone who does not tolerate employer disrespect.

  33. That One Person*

    I can see where you might be a little afraid for your reputation, but there’s something to be said that YOUR leaving is delaying the deliverable. If so much of it was really riding on you then…well you’re quite the asset.

    It also sounds like the reasons leading to that departure and style circulated as well, and I wouldn’t want to work with anyone who sided with the company on that front. Sounds like they’d be liable to do something in a similar vein at that point.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP’s departure delaying a project that badly also strongly reinforces that $NewDirector was a nepotism hire. Because $NewDirector was a manager leading up to that point.

  34. Ann Cognito*

    This is one of the best quitting stories ever! When I read the title, I was thinking “oh, oh – never good to burn a bridge”, but as I continued reading and my eyes got bigger and bigger at their treatment of you, my thoughts changed to “they deserve every second of it.” I seriously congratulate you on managing to continue there for an additional four months after they did this to you. But so worth it, since you got to quit like this!

  35. CanCan*

    Wow!! Quitting like that – totally warranted.

    Cutting salary by tens of thousands of dollars counts as constructive dismissal in Canada. The OP would have been entitled to leave right there and then, and the company would have been liable for pay in lieu of notice (likely amounting to the OP’s salary for the 4 months it took him/her to find the current job).

    1. The Original K.*

      I wondered if OP would be entitled to unemployment benefits here in the states if she’d quit because of her new salary. I believe there’s something about being eligible if you quit because your role changed in such a fundamental way – drastically reduced hours or pay, you used to be remote and now you’re not so your commute is now 100 miles a day, etc.

        1. The Original K.*

          Oh, almost certainly (I’ve received the max unemployment in my state; it’s not much, and was considerably less than I was making in the job from which I was laid off).

    2. Kathlynn (Canada)*

      Especially if the LW is a woman, she could even claim sexism/discrimination and file a human’s right complaint. (at the very least for the salary cut, if not for the whole transfer)

      1. Derjungerludendorff*

        That seems a bit wonky?
        In my understanding, they would need to actually prove it was sexism and not nepotism that motivated BigBoss. Which might not even be the case, and would probably be hard to prove.

        1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

          They essentially fired a more qualified woman to promote a guy. That is enough to file a complaint. If they claim that it was an equitable transfer then they discrimated by wage, as BC’s human rights prevent the reduction of wage to create an equal wage. They would have to prove that they had a legitimate reason to do all of this. Nepotism shouldn’t be (though it may have become a protected class under family status in Canada. Weird)

          1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

            Actually the family status protection works both way, finally found the quote I remember reading, they use a very Similar example as this question. You can’t promote/hire someone less qualified for a position based on their family ties to you, or refuse to hire a person because of who they are related to.

    3. Observer*

      Yes, it would be constructive dismissal in the US as well. Since 29 states are “at will” there probably wouldn’t be a case for damages, but they would be eligible for unemployment. This is better, though.

  36. Louise*

    I have to imagine most of the people complimenting you are, like the commentariat here, impresses by your boldness and in equal horror at the treatment you received there. I fully agree with Alison’s advice — the cooler you play it the more badass you’ll seem

  37. Olive*

    Spectacular! Unbelievably so! I often dream of doing such things where I’m at but I think I’ll learn from your current feelings on the matter. Though I grinned profusely while reading this and I feel like I could live my triumph vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing!

  38. CupcakeCounter*

    Only thing that would have made this better was if OP had gone over to the competition and snatched up the contract when Old Shit-Company failed to deliver.

    Also from my viewpoint, OP gave 4-months notice. The objections were made and no one in their right mind should have expected them to stay after that bullshit. Of course in Big Boss’ mind this was temporary for OP – as soon as Sonny-Boy hit the magic experience marker he was heading off to greener pastures and OP would be restored to their original position no fuss, no muss. Except of course the tens of thousands in lost income to OP while working twice as hard to fix all of Sonny’s mistakes since he no doubt had not a frickin clue how to do the job.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Oh and as for what to say in future interviews if it comes up I would go with something along the lines of “Yes, it was unfortunate that things happened as they did but the situation had become very untenable and I was unable to stay there any longer. The lack of notice period was very uncharacteristic of me so I did offer to do some temporary consulting to help them achieve the upcoming deliverable but they declined.”

  39. Delta Delta*

    I LOVE this question. Because as glorious as the quitting was, the aftermath is something OP obviously has to sort out. On one hand, OP doesn’t want to look like a gloating jerk (as much as they may want to). On the other hand, there’s a lot of support from the greater community which may encourage gloating jerkiness. This will all fade into “OP is great and stands up for him/herself” unless it turns OP also into a jerk, which will then turn into “OP used to be cook but then got a big head after rage-quitting MegaCorp.”

    So, having some diplomatic response, although possibly painful, is the absolute best way to go. “Yeah, I’m not sure what’s going on there now, but I’m super glad to be working at NiceCo. We get to (insert nice thing about new company).” The subtext will be there.

    I did a similar pre-planned, jerk promotion-related rage(ish) quit a few years ago. I got ducks in a row. I got new work. I left when it was inconvenient for them (wah!). I controlled the narrative. When outsiders ask(ed) I have/had some really great canned responses ready to go without resorting to calling it “That Awful Place” although those who know, know. Now I’m killing it in ways That Awful Place would love to have on their staff. Oops on them.

  40. Art3mis*

    You could just smile and say something like, “Ah, well, I wish things had been different, but I hope they get all the luck they deserve.” Kind of a back handed way to say “I hope they die in a fire” or something to that effect.

  41. Det. Charles Boyle*

    OP, I enjoyed your account so much I read it twice. Very satisfying and I wish I could have been there to witness the whole thing!

  42. Jessica*

    The bridge was still on fire and it was the company that committed the malicious arson. All you did, OP, was to gracefully grab hold of a vine and swing yourself across to the opposite shore like the amazing action hero you are.

  43. Dee*

    Dynamiting and salting the earth would have been deleting all of their files, or changing passwords so no one could access anything, or something destructive like that. This is just karma.

  44. RA*

    This happened to me. They said budget cuts I say BS. I lost over $12k in salary, was there 25 years. CEO is still a moron.

  45. Important Moi*

    This is wonderful. There are a few comments implying OP shouldn’t be “too happy” etc. I hope those comments get ignored. Dignity is important too.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      I don’t think many people are telling OP to not be happy or to think they should have done anything differently. It’s more, in public sometimes, it make sense to demur a bit in situations like these. It helps to make sure you are seen as “that epic person who did the thing we have all wanted to do at some point” rather than “that hothead who walked out the door and left their company in the lurch.”

  46. Aurion*

    OP, you said it yourself: they reap what they sow.

    Mad respect. Alison’s script is good. And for doing what many of us can’t to a terrible employer…I’m toasting you in my cube and wishing I could shake your hand.

  47. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I needed this letter (as I’m sure a lot of people working in the corporate world did). OP, are you hiring? I’d love to work for you someday! (not seriously asking) (but kinda seriously)

  48. sassypants*

    I love how you quit and I love Allison’s script. This is the best thing I’ve read all day.

  49. Beancounter Eric*

    Very nicely done……your former employer deserves whatever ill befalls them.

    And your ex-boss is a pillock.

  50. Little Paws*

    OP, you get a whoop & a high five from me! Thank you for sharing this & allowing me to live vicariously through you! Sounds like the company has a bad reputation, and Alison’s advice is spot on, so you should be ok navigating this if/when it comes up in the future!

  51. MamaBear*

    I love this so much. It probably didn’t happen, but I like to think that someone above big boss asked what happened and someone else gave him the honest answer and big boss and his son’s friend were soon the door the following Friday at 3 PM.

  52. Heidi*

    Congratulations on the new job, OP! I’m glad this terrible treatment by your company led to better things in the end.

    You didn’t specifically mention this, but I’m guessing that even though you switched positions with nepotism guy, you were still expected to carry the same workload and responsibility you had before. Jerks.

  53. The IT Plebe*

    This was truly a glorious read. Flawless victory, including the great foresight to address blowback. Enjoy your status as an AAM Hall of Famer!

  54. Elbe*

    ” I told him that I gave him the exact same consideration that he gave me, so how could he possibly be upset — I’m sure his friend’s son could figure it all out.”

    What she did was great, but it’s her response to their outrage that really puts it over the top for me. This is amazing.

    This story will spread through the industry like wildfire, and the former company’s reputation will suffer as much as the LW’s personal reputation is boosted. Not only did they mistreat and lose a competent employee in order to retain an unqualified one, they’re also giving cause for their shady practices to be common knowledge. Being a minor villain won’t make you famous, but being a massive villain in someone’s tale of revenge definitely will.

  55. Corporate Cynic*

    This is beautiful. And it was worth every piece of ash. Well done, and all the best to you in your career going forward.

  56. Tequila Mockingbird*

    I normally have nothing but disdain for people who quit their jobs with no notice, or in overdramatic fashion, but you, OP, get major props from me. RESPECT.

  57. Coder von Frankenstein*

    “It’s okay to privately think the former…”

    Or even to write in anonymously to Ask A Manager about it, so we can all enjoy a warm glow of vicarious schaudenfreude. :)

  58. Mockingjay*

    When I left ExToxicJob three years ago, I did my best not to burn the bridge. ExBoss set fire to it anyway.

    In retrospect, I wish I had left in a Blaze of Glory, especially considering that ExBoss was removed from his position a year later for a plethora of misdeeds. Finally I and other mistreated employees (some were fired) were vindicated.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      ok, this is a story i’d like to hear more of, please!
      (I’m on a revenge quit story kick – I’ve (re)read all the cod related ones now)

  59. RUKiddingMe*

    As the “Big Boss” … who would never treat anyone that way… yaaayyyyy OP!!You go girl! Or guy!

    ::dancing lady emoji::

  60. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “But, but, but… You can’t quit. You have to stay here and do his higher-level job for your lower-level salary.”

  61. Reality Check*

    OP, I don’t know HOW you hung in there for 4 months after that, but it surely added to the element of surprise. They probably thought you were just going to take it laying down. Heee heee

  62. Jane*

    This reminds me of the way that my coworkers and I sometimes read the glassdoor reviews for our outsourcer’s company when they are pissing us off! (The reviews are mostly negative, and reviews that indicate an employee’s desire to burn the bridge with them are particularly satisfying.)

    If the company has a bad reputation, people might be more understanding about your giving them the finger on the way out the door than they would otherwise. Of course, if that reputation changes down the years, it might be trickier to navigate…but people eventually forget about stuff like this anyway if they weren’t part of the original cast of characters.

    1. Derjungerludendorff*

      This anecdote would probably be remembered as “that time Company did something awful and it blew up in their face”, not “that time OP did something horrendous”.
      At the end of the day, OP left without the usual notice period and was rude to BigBoss. What BigBoss did was far more memorable than that.

  63. cwhfstl*

    Standing ovation to the OP. So sweet.
    Thank you for doing this for those who can’t and bless you for sharing it. OG

  64. Buttons*

    *slow clap* Sir, I love you. Good job. I think you will be ok in the long run, especially if you play it cool as Alison encouraged. Handle it with grace and be humble. Good luck in your new job!

  65. Coverage Associate*

    I am curious how OP should handle the demotion in interviews when this has blown over.

  66. Derjungerludendorff*

    That was amazing, and your former boss completely deserved the fallout of their actions.

    But I don’t think there will actually be that much blowback in the first place. You didn’t actually do much wrong.
    All you did was giving less than the standard notice period, and be a bit rude and insulting during the meeting with BigBoss.

    You didn’t damage company property, ruin relations with clients, start a toxic atmosphere, or do anything that harmed the company or it’s employees. You just stopped working for them, which is something people do all the time and for many different and perfectly valid reasons. At worst you looked like you could be hard to work with, and you have excellent reasons why that wouldn’t happen at any other company (except the ones you don’t want to work for anyway).

    If that created a problem because it was badly timed for the company, well, that just happens. People get sick, move on, or even die on badly timed moments. It’s part of life and doing business.
    And it’s especially part of a business that treats it’s employees like BigBoss did.

    1. Snark*

      They weren’t even rude or insulting, though.

      Once a standard is established in a professional relationship, it makes sense to factor that in to future considerations. It’s basic game theory, really.

      /deadpan, reasonable tone

  67. His Grace*

    This is as delicious as the LW who didn’t let his best employee attend her college graduation and saw her quit an hour later. (AAM July 5, 2016)

    OP, it sounds like you are in Europe, so I don’t know how they handle last-minute resignations, but I commend you for doing what you did. Networking and nepotism are very different things. Giving a prominent job to a friend’s kid for no other reason than being the son of a friend is wrong on so many levels, and I am willing to bet that there are others in your old company who resent that move also. Demoting you and significantly lowering your pay on two hours’ notice? Bad look as well. You were right to quit. This place sounds like it was becoming toxic.

    As for how you quit…
    People quit in a blaze of glory all the time. Sometimes it backfires, and sometimes it works out. If you are concerned about blowback, be honest about the situation. Don’t whoop it up or embellish. Just put your cards on the table. If nothing else, you have a great story to tell at parties.

  68. Coloboma*

    I just read this and really admire your style. We had a restructure in my business and while I kept my salary; I lost my title and some PTO. I am looking for other positions and the winning lottery ticket to help me go out with a blaze of glory.

  69. Kateedoo*

    I feel like if anything OP has just weeded out future bad employers. An employer that thinks what old company did was ok won’t attempt to hire him/her. An employer that respects employees and understands the reaction will not balk at it at all.

  70. Donkey Hotey*

    OK, there’s plenty of applause in the comments.
    I’m waiting for either a Greek Chorus or an Oompa-Loompa to come on stage.

    Seriously though, well done OP. Add me to the “that bridge was already on fire” brigade.

    1. Wish I didn’t have to be anon for this…*

      My fever-ridden brain read this as “a Greek Choir of Oompa-Loompas,” which would frankly be fantastic.

  71. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    /Bette Middler
    Did you ever know that you’re my hero? You’re everything I wish I could be…

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        Right at the very end of July! I’ve been at a less insane property management job since then, but am actually waiting to find out my start date for a great job with the state! I wish I had been able to quit in as badass of a fashion as the OP, though!

  72. madge*

    I hope that in this year’s Worst Boss of the Year post, Alison will link back to this so we can be reminded that sometimes horrible people do get their comeuppance.

  73. Wish I didn’t have to be anon for this…*

    As I take the train home from my fifth straight day working with a 99–101° fever because I’m not allowed sick leave since no one can do my job (yet they also refuse to promote me), you’ve inspired me, OP. Best of luck to you, and I’m glad you’re in an industry that respects how you handled this.

    1. WellRed*

      Just want to ask, if no one can do your job, will they fire you for taking a sick day? Not to over simply but don’t fall victim to the bullsht

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Stay home and get better.

      If they deny you sick leave, use one of those telemedicine apps to get a doctor to command you to stay home until you’re well.

      Remind them that accidents and lottery wins happen.

  74. Hiring Mgr*

    Did this deliverable that your resignation affected impact clients? If so, I would probably leave that part out if you’re asked about it down the road.. As an interviewer, even if I agree overall with what you did, it might not come across so well..

  75. Wool Princess*

    I think this is my favorite letter in 3+ years of daily reading this blog. Good for you, OP, for tolerating that for 4 months. I would not have had the patience to make that kind of poetic exit.

  76. Snark*

    Also, I just love Alison’s suggestion of “It just made sense within the practices they’d set up.” Delivered a little deadpan, with a slightly apologetic inflection, whatcha gonna do?

  77. Blessed with Flushable Turds*

    OP, you didn’t “burned one, then dynamited the remains, then salted the surrounding earth.”

    That would include all of the above, plus say, trashing the company all over social media, sending the CEO a bag of flaming poop, plastering your office walls with indecent pictures, trash talk the new boss to his family, clog up all the toilets, etc.

    In fact, you may not have even burned the bridge. Whoever’s left in charge after the nepotism experiment fails may even come begging you to return.

  78. Honor Harrington*

    Op, I can see three possible consequences to deal with:
    1) the foreign outsourcing company could refuse to ever hire you again. That’s possible, however, if you are the answer to an opening they need to fill, they will use you. The question is whether you would ever work for them again, and that sounds unlikely, so probably no consequences to manage there.
    2) the manufacturing company who hired the outsourcing company could blame you for things. However if their IT needs are managed by outsourcers, they have little ability to impact you
    3) How did the story get out? If it came from your team, you can always dismiss it as exaggerated and say that when you left, everything was up to date and your team was fully functioning i.e. you left with a good transition. However if the story got out from you, then you run a risk as being seen as someone who not only burned a bridge but bragged about it. Your best defense is to be as professional, competent and polished in discussing it as possible. The more rational and reasonable you seem, the more likely people are to dismiss it as an exaggerated story.

    In another year, the story will likely have warped enough that it will have no reflection on reality. Then you can dismiss anything you hear as “That’s not how it went down at all, I left according to the company’s norms.”

    I’m not surprised that you’ve gotten so much cheering. Many IT outsourcing firms treat their consultants horribly, and most of us have dreamed of saying “F off” in some way. I’m glad you are in a better place now.

  79. SusanIvanova*

    There I was, driving in to work, thinking about the email I’d just gotten from a recruiter and how I needed to say “thanks, but not right now.”

    And then my whole team got laid off. And I got stuck as part of a two-month “transition team”.

    So while everyone else was running around and packing, I was on the phone to that recruiter. “Well, actually…”

    I’d totally planned to mic-drop my badge if I got a job before those two months were up. It took a bit longer than that, but now nearly everyone at my old team is working here at a much bigger tech co.

  80. HereKittyKitty*

    I get a lot of satisfaction in this. I recently spent the summer encouraging the small team I was a part of to look for better, higher paying roles- and we all left. I salted the earth by poaching the last member of the team they hired right before I left for my new job. But they seriously treated us badly and underpaid us, so it’s whatever. It’s a good lesson in respecting your employees.

  81. Elan Morin Tedronai*

    I think about the only real consequence of this is OP most likely won’t be able to use the company as a reference, or that any future reference checks to this company will probably result in a “do not recommend for rehire” or something. But of course there are ways around that, and if this company is as bad as OP says it is, said negative reference won’t carry much weight anyway, especially given that their story will live on for quite a while.

  82. Stephanie*

    HR me is clamping my lips shut and shaking my head.

    But my Virgo/Pisces/Scorpio self would love to buy LW a drink and delve into this subject.

  83. Flash Bristow*

    Oh wow. Yeah. I too have been caught in a situation between “omg they were brave… And impressive”… And “arse that was stoopid of me”.

    I appreciate ths is your story not mine, but hang with me a mo? So in my case, I got my first “real” job after uni, mainly by contacts who fancied me (sorry!) and decent ones who just wanted to help. Both driven by their hearts I guess… Anyway I was told the Qs for the interview, memorised the answers (as ya do?!) and got in.

    I joined on 23 aug 19. One of two women in an IT tech platform environment. The other well established, and me young… My first month was spent in more other beds than my own. One morning I found my shift”mate” had set everyone’s screensavers to a pic of me wearing nowt but a strip of tape which read “police line do not cross”. You get the idea. I was the talk of the town and all my own fault (and no Im not proud! Im just relaying this to say that for entirely different reasons you’re in good(?!) company. And that someone else knows how you feel…

    Aaaaaaanyway. By the 1st Oct Id met and got together with a programme developer, and we’ve been together as of 20 years this week!

    And when I moved thru the ranks within 6 months – having known nowt – and left after 18 months, I was remembered for my skill and unexpectedly quick progression, NOT the event(s) which initially made me notorious.

    Enough about me. I just wanted to say, please don’t fret! I was actually rather amused by your story, but I do realise it feels different being the focus.

    Just hang on in, let it ride over as best you can. In a few months this – well I doubt the dramatic departure will be forgotten, per se, but I bet people will have newer, classier ways to think of you. If it still follows you around, there will be many other reasons to be admired instead or as well. As they say on my fave TV cooking show: G’luck, your time starts now!

  84. miss_chevious*

    I’m always amazed when companies or managers think they can get away with things like this with no impacts to their business. Like, sure, yes, you can change the terms of my employment and reduce my salary, but if you expect that I will go above and beyond (or not quit!) at a crucial time for you, you’re gonna be unpleasantly surprised.

    Kudos to you, OP, both for the quitting and for your professionalism, which is in evidence here.

  85. AuroraLight37*

    I think the OP handled this beautifully. If the company ended up with egg on their faces, then that is their failure for not considering that OP might decide to shake the dust from their feet and go where they’re appreciated.

  86. Anono-me*

    OP What fabulous story and what an incredibly proportionate response.

    One thing to consider that doesn’t seem to have been addressed yetft. Wherever you work going forward is going to get a reputation boost from your presence. You now have a reputation for not letting an employer treat you is lower than dirt. So the logic follows that anywhere you work must treat people well. I know hearing you worked at an organization would cause me to give it a second look, if previously I had dismissed it as not a good work environment.

    I’m not sure how you would bring that up with future employers or even if you should . But some thing to be aware of.

    1. Sun Tzu*

      Good point. I think the OP did what was to be done. Congratulations! It is heartwarming to hear stories like this.

  87. Shez*

    the only one question I have it – is that no matter how it sucks you cannot give a 2 hour notice? most contracts have a 1 month notice at least in the IT world? so technically they could sue you for breach of contract..

    1. Commercial Property Manager*

      My husband is a career IT man, and has worked in support, development, and server roles. In our region of America, this has not been our experience… in fact, very few jobs require contracts! Are you outside of the US?

  88. Dysana*

    I think the really big reason why this story is a delight is the context. They’d treated you poorly, despite excellent work, and set the standard for changes to position. All the letter writer did was maliciously comply with that standard.

    In another time or place, or if their work or attitude had been poor, this would have come across as rather petty but here it just… I mean, it felt good just to read it. I can’t imagine how good it must have felt.

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