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Old Things That Are Tough To Explain: Giving Two-Weeks Notice at Work

October 14, 2021
One of them will quit tomorrow and not tell anybody. (image via wikimedia)

I work at a grocery story with a bunch of guys and girls in their 20s, and I’m occasionally baffled by some of the stuff they do. I’m in a low-level, high-turnover position (I’m easily replaced), and when these 20-year-olds quit, they just don’t show up for work. They don’t tell the boss ahead of time. They don’t make a scene and meltdown in front of everybody. They just don’t show up for work anymore.

A few weeks ago I missed a break because a guy had quit and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone. I had asked the shift manager if I could take my break, and the manager said “As soon as ______ gets here,” which was reasonable. The guy was already 10 minutes late, though, and I thought, “I bet he quit and didn’t tell anyone.”

Sure enough, nobody at the grocery store has seen _______ again.

Just so you know, I still took my break. There are ways to take breaks without management knowing about it; I mean, they might know about it, but they haven’t done anything to me about it yet (I use my powers judiciously).

I’ve always notified my bosses when I’m about to quit, even for the crappiest jobs. My first job was at an ice cream chain in the early 1980s. In May of my senior year of high school, I told my boss I’d be leaving, and I even recommended a couple sophomores who’d asked me about working there. Next, I worked at a crappy fast food hamburger joint, and even though everything about that job sucked (including my attitude), I gave the boss two-weeks notice.

I had a bunch of part-time jobs in college, law school library, telemarketing firm, local newspaper, and I gave all of them notice when I was leaving. I can’t promise it was two weeks, but I at least told them ahead of time.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not griping about the 20-year-olds not giving notice. I don’t necessarily think they’re wrong. Maybe I was brainwashed by these corporate/business entities into thinking I owed them more loyalty than they deserved. Maybe I was a chump for playing by their rules. Maybe these corporations deserve to be treated with no respect. I just think it’s kind of amusing when employees quit without giving notice (even when I potentially lose a break because of it).

I’ve grown up following the post-World War II mentality of showing up on time, saving money, and showing some loyalty to my employers (even though the loyalty was often one-sided). Some people call it a Boomer mentality, or a Boomer template, but I think it was set up by the powers-that-be the generation before the Boomers.

Even though I might sound like I’m a Boomer, I’m not; I’m Gen X. I came home after school to an empty house because both parents worked (Boomer mentality: my parents weren’t quite Boomers, but they were Boomer adjacent). I was alone a lot because of that, but I made some damn good mix tapes.

As a Gen X, I’ve benefitted from the Boomer template. I admit it. I collect my teacher pension. I have my grocery store job for extra income, and my wife works. I’m probably in a much better financial situation than the people I work with (but I’m not going around telling anybody that at work; they’ll think I’m a Boomer).

Anyway, the Boomer template won’t work for these younger generations. The pensions and 401Ks probably won’t be there for the Gen Zs or the Millenials. The old ponzi scheme systems, like social security and pensions, are set up against these younger generations, so they don’t feel like playing by the same rules, and I don’t blame them.

Or maybe they’re just too damn lazy to call the boss. Haha! Now I sound like a Boomer.

Anyway, I’m not sure what the new template is. I’m trying to figure it out for my daughter so that she doesn’t end up in a bad situation when she gets out of college. Going back to some old ways might help: stay out of debt, stick together with your family if possible, keep expenses down, maybe go minimalist.

No matter what the new template is, though, I’m pretty sure giving two-weeks notice at work has nothing to do with it.

  1. I’ve always given notice, but once or twice I didn’t make it easy for *reasons*

  2. It never hurts to treat your employer respectfully, even if they don’t deserve it. Might be helpful down the line to have them on your side.

    • Haha! I don’t think my former co-workers plan to use my current employer as a reference of any kind. I’m not saying they’re wise to have that philosophy; it’s just that they don’t think that way.

  3. Probably true.

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