When Richard Nixon quit office in the ’70s, his letter to the Secretary of State went like this: ‘I hereby resign the office of the President of the United States’. Twelve words. That’s it. Cut to 2013, for those following the Tehelka saga that is playing out in real time, the resignation letters being passed around on Twitter could compete with PhD thesis. Without going into the issue, if you actually had the patience to read any of them, since they spill into several pages, the one striking point is, almost nobody resigns like that. Whatever happened to ‘Dear sir, I quit, Yours sincerely?’ And if you must, maybe just one platitude to sound pleasant.
Granted, this is an unusual situation with lawyers deliberating over every word, new murky details surfacing, and ex-employees getting virulent on national news. It’s unusual in India, but there are enough examples of people who quit in as public and destructive a manner as possible. There’s the Goldman Sachs Vice-President, who resigned and wrote why in a wildly popular New York Times Opinion piece that was hugely damaging for the company. The most bizarre resignation has to be of a US flight attendant who got into an argument with a passenger about overhead luggage that fell on his head. He delivered a profanity laced resignation over the plane’s public address system which concluded with him telling all the one hundred passengers aboard to go lump it.
Salaried employees are taxed the most, have the longest hours and the least job security. A lot of us may dream of telling our bosses off on the day we quit or get fired, but it’s always wiser to exit quietly than to raise hell. Only, so that in the future if you want to go back to a particular company your reputation is not that of being an HR nightmare. Because, the depressing reality in today’s job market is that unless you work for a call centre (they’re always short of people), chances are you need the organisation a lot more than it needs you. Any corporate guru would advise — once you’ve put in your papers, it’s not the right time to tell management what’s wrong with company policy. The time to criticise is when you’re well entrenched and nothing you say can be construed as sour grapes. Leaving with a bang almost never works out, and
is a shortsighted and immature approach to a career. To correct a certain misogynist politician who said nobody will hire women after this Tehelka episode, it’s more like nobody wants an aggressive troublemaker, it doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female. Maybe I have slightly conservative views but I find this new trend of letting it all out for the world to hear on social media, extremely distasteful. What will bitching out an ex-employer achieve? Usually, nothing. At best, some sympathetic retweets from voyeurs who may applaud your moves publicly, but would never do the same themselves. Civilisation is held together by tactful phrasing and white lies even if we’re all vicious hypocrites in reality. How you leave is the last statement you make about your character so it’s important to make your move wisely.