The Dark Dream: ‘Take This Job & Shove It’

Johnny Paycheck

“Take this job & shove it!” – that’s the dark dream isn’t it?  The 1977 Johnny Paycheck song captures the retaliatory spirit within us all to fight the ‘man’ and leave work in a glorious rage of independence.  While the song peaked at #1 for just two weeks on the Billboard Country charts, it has lived on as a cultural touchstone for more than 35 years.

Mr. Fire Station recently had a long discussion of making a “Take this job and shove it” stand on one’s way into early retirement with other early retirement aficionados online.  Here’s a summary of the general comments …

Should you leave your job with a “Take this job & shove it” display?

  • No – Don’t do it as much as you might like to
  • No – Don’t bother – they won’t really care what you say
  • Maybe – but only if you have another job lined up
  • No – You burn bridges at your own risk
  • No – Let the emotions roll off your back
  • No – Tirades don’t work and seldom satisfy anything
  • No – You might cross paths with your boss again (several examples)
  • No – Take the high road; people will be petty or vindictive in return
  • No – Management will think you were the problem, not your boss
  • No – Your coworkers probably won’t really understand anyway
  • No – Go to an anger management class

I think these relatively conservative responses are pretty predictable. Most people (MrFireStation included) aren’t retiring because they are mad at the boss, but for their own reasons.  For me, my last day in the office will more likely be filled with a bit of nervousness & sentimentality for what I am leaving behind.  I don’t have any axes to grind with anyone, so there really isn’t any anger to pass around.

Despite the fact that most departing employees leave with a whimper, not a bang – it doesn’t stop the secret rebel in all of us to imagine fun ways to walk out.  Jimmy Fallon had his #HowIQuit hashtag challenge and recently CBS Marketwatch ran an entertaining piece called “12 ways to say take this job and shove it” where folks imagined fun ways to kiss-off to the boss.  I thought the 2-weeks resignation notice written onto a chocolate cake for everyone to enjoy was a particularly amusing way to depart.  (Originality seems to be important in delivering one’s “take this job and shove it” stand, so you might also want to peruse TV Trope’s list of colorful ways it has been done on-screen)

Social media is a relatively new way for employees to make their “take this job and shove it” stand.  Employees often vent about work online and employers find it difficult to combat the comments that are made.  According to a recent Associate Press article, “The government protects workers’ rights to say what they want about where they work, even if it’s in a vitriolic and insulting tweet or post. It’s illegal for an employee to be fired for a post about working conditions, whether it’s pay, hours, assignments, difficult supervisors, dress code, or any other issue.”  As long as employees are not disparaging or spreading lies about the company, the National Labor Relations Board supports discussion among employees that can have the result of improving workplace conditions.  Based on the news this week, it sounds like Amazon will also be dealing with quite a bit of social media discussion as the New York Times article on difficult working conditions there have definitely exploded online.

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