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Walking off the job in style: Don’t do it

In a classic scene from the movie Network, Howard Beale flings open the window and yells to the world below, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Every disgruntled worker can probably relate, and more than a few have likely been tempted to give their boss a piece of their mind before walking off the job in style.

News reports in recent years have documented workers who have done just that. However, employment experts recommend a more reasoned approach to quitting your job. From riding the plane's emergency chute off the job to documenting your employer's faults in a national paper, here are five colorful ways unhappy workers have said so long to their boss.

5 unforgettable "I quit" stories

  1. Giving new meaning to walking off the job: Perhaps no one has left their job in style quite like Steven Slater. After an altercation with a passenger who was preparing prematurely to deplane in New York, the former Jet Blue steward took to the intercom system and let loose a string of obscenities. Then he activated the plane's emergency chute, reportedly grabbed a beer and rode the chute off the plane and away from his job. Slater got lots of press for his memorable departure, but we don't recommend this approach. He was also charged with felony counts of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.
  2. Living well is the best revenge: The world was collectively appalled when video footage appeared online showing middle-school students tormenting 68 year old Karen Klein on a school bus. The 10 minute video included insults, threats and obscenities hurled by students at Klein who worked as a bus monitor. Klein has since left her, job although she says the incident was not what prompted her retirement. Whatever the reason, the $700,000 donated to her by well-wishers worldwide will undoubtedly help her ride off into the sunset in style.
  3. Airing your employer's dirty laundry: Greg Smith was an executive director with Goldman Sachs. Then he resigned and wrote a scathing op-ed for The New York Times in which he detailed the many ways he felt the firm was ripping off its clients. While Smith said no illegal activity went on, he made it clear the actions of Goldman Sachs leadership team were anything but honorable.
  4. Taking it to the airwaves: If writing isn't your style, you could take a cue from Alabama deejay Inetta "The Moodsetta." Telling her listeners she had an important announcement, she then proceeded to let loose on the radio station staff before signing off for good.
  5. Telling your boss in advance: Tim Tolan, senior partner in healthcare IT and services for executive recruiting firm Sanford Rose Associates, relates this story. On a Friday evening, an individual inadvertently "pocket dialed" his boss while out to dinner with his wife. His boss listened for ten minutes while the worker outlined his plans to quit on Monday. When Monday rolled around, the boss called the worker into his office and fired him.

Quit your job the right way

While you may want to quit your job with a bit of panache, human resources experts say it is best to resist the urge.

"First of all, the world is too small," said Tolan. "It is your brand equity that gets impacted at the end of the day."

With the advent of email, social media and online networking, it is simply too easy for word of a poor departure to spread to other potential employers. Instead of making an emotional scene, Tolan suggests the following strategies for workers:

  • Don't quit unless you are absolutely sure you are done with your current job.
  • Don't say a word to anyone before you actually notify your employer.
  • Make sure you have a written offer, rather than a verbal one, from a new employer before quitting your job.

Getting ready for the last day

In addition, give your employer the courtesy of an advance notice so your job duties can be transferred to a new employee.

"You want to leave the place in better shape than you found it," said Tolan. "Give them enough time to transition."

At the same time, Tolan notes it is not uncommon for employers to ask workers to gather their items and leave immediately, especially if you are leaving to work for a competitor. To prepare for this situation, Tolan recommends any written offer for a new job include wording that your first day will begin "on or before" a particular date.

If you are nervous about quitting your job, remember to keep the conversation short and sweet. In addition, Tolan says to be clear about your intention to quit. Leaving the door open for a counter offer can be emotionally draining, and it is better to make a clean break. Practicing what you are going to say with a spouse or good friend is a smart tactic too.

"It boils down to common sense and common courtesy," said Tolan.

And what if you lose your cool and end up telling off your boss before walking out? Call or send an apology right away -- a little bit of groveling wouldn't hurt either.