How NOT to Quit: 3 Cautionary Tales

Last Updated Oct 10, 2011 5:04 PM EDT

Are you thinking of leaving your job for a new one? Daydreaming, perhaps, about walking out in a blaze of glory?

A few weeks ago I shared some loony exit letters. Of course, I noted that these noteworthy notices were better left to romantic comedies than employed in real life, since burning bridges is never a smart career move--particularly when unemployment still hovers at 9.1%. Finding a new gig and giving a respectful two weeks' notice? Much more advisable.

But if you need some comic relief today (and maybe some more fodder for your ditch-your-job daydream), I've collected 3 new colorful (and risky) quitting stories, which thankfully turned out well for these employees in the end. But please, don't try these at home:

1. Making a (Literal) Great Escape
"Years ago, when I was 17, I worked for a law firm in London as a junior receptionist but wanted badly to work the phones. One day [the phone operator] had to go home with a migraine and I stepped into her seat. It had all looked so easy when I was dropping the mail off, but within minutes, lights were flashing, little doors were opening and buzzing sounds were making themselves known -- I was so scared.

"I pressed a few buttons and surely cut people off, [and eventually] I had enough. I wanted to go home but that would mean walking through the whole office. So I climbed out of the window. We were on the second floor but I kept going, scraped my knees and left my jacket up there to boot. When I got home to my mum's house, I asked her to call and tell them I had quit -- but of course, no one answered the phone!

"Now I run my own business -- transatlantic dating site I Love Your Accent -- and I make sure my office is on the first floor." -- Rochelle Peachey, Orlando, Fla.

2. Taking the Money and Running
"A few years ago while working at a very small PR agency in NYC, I realized very quickly that the owner was a terror. I had heard nightmare stories about how the owner would often not give employees their last paycheck after they put in notice. So once I had another job offer lined up, [I waited] until my check was automatically deposited, and come 6 p.m. I went in to her office and declared I was quitting. She instantly picked up the phone to call pay roll and tell them not to deposit my check.

"Once I reminded her it was already in my account, she slammed the phone down. [Then she] found out where I was going to be working and called to give me a negative review -- although thankfully her reputation in the industry preceded her and it didn't affect my job offer. The negative vibes of that office still give me chills, but I sure did learn a lot." -- Name withheld, New York City

3. Getting Caught Moonlighting
"I'd been out of college for a year and had taken my first job at a major PR firm. Within a couple of months of being there, I started my own PR agency on the side. Over the next three months, it started to flourish to the point at which I was living a double life and knew it was only a matter of time before my bosses would find out and give me an ultimatum.

"Finally, in September of 2007, I landed myself a feature story on the front page of the Business section of the Asbury Park Press, and my bosses saw it and called me into their office. I was only an assistant account executive, and they couldn't believe I had started my own successful PR firm under their noses. They told me if I gave it up I could stay, but I told them I had worked so hard over the past few months and couldn't give it up, so I quit right there. That was four years ago, and my business has gone on to grow by leaps and bounds." -- Steven Le Vine, West Hollywood, Calif.

Have you quit in a dramatic way -- or has a (former) colleague? Sign in below and share.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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