“I quit!” Are there any two words more fantasized about in the English language? (Wait, don’t answer that.) While most people only daydream about making a dramatic exit at their job, executive Greg Smith made it a headline-grabbing reality when he told his bosses, The New York Times, and the world “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.”
In his unflinching and brutally honest op-ed piece, Smith, who had been with the company for over a decade, explained that “the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it,” and continued: “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.” Smith, who lamented that “I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work,” also revealed that Goldman Sachs would sometimes refer to some of their clients as “muppets.”
While the actual Muppets haven’t gotten around to spoofing Smith and Goldman Sachs (yet) the rest of the Internet has. The U.K.’s The Daily Mash gave the long-suffering Darth Vader the chance to speak openly, albeit muffled, about “Why I am leaving the Empire.” Mimicking Smith’s letter of resignation, the Star Wars villain made similar statements like “The Empire… has veered so far from the place I joined right out of Yoda College that I can no longer in good conscience point menacingly and say that I identify with what it stands for,” and: “The Empire today has become too much about shortcuts and not enough about remote strangulation. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.” The brilliant kicker? “Get the culture right again, so people want to make millions of voices cry out in terror before being suddenly silenced.” (C’mon Darth, you can complain about the Empire, but you’ve hardly been silenced over the past few years.)
Other outlets have come up with their own homages to Smith’s letter, too, including The Wall Street Journal’s take on New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni’s exit. (“It made me ill to hear the chatter in some of our pre-game meetings. A couple weeks ago, I heard the New Jersey Nets referred to as ‘muppets.’ Then Deron Williams scored 38 and the Nets blew us out at home. Wish I had a muppet like that. I’d trade nine guys for that muppet.”)
The parodies of Smith’s quit will likely continue to be parodied (why must Saturday Night Live be a rerun this weekend?) and some disgruntled employees may even follow suit. Of course, long before Smith came into the picture, there were some other enviable exits in pop culture history. Sure, he was technically fired, but who hasn’t imagined what it would be like to make a dramatic exit à la Jerry Maguire (“Who’s coming with me?!”)
(Horrible) Bosses of America, consider yourself warned. Watch the clips – some of which are, ironically enough NSFW – here:
How do you take the sting out of quitting? If you’re in That Thing You Do!, you sing about it:
George Costanza's finest hour...
Leaving a waitressing gig in Office Space with(out) some extra flair:
Dear (Bridget Jones’) Diary: I quit!
Taking the Half Baked approach to exiting a fast food job:
What’s your favorite pop culture quit? In your ultimate quitting fantasy would you use a technique like Greg Smith’s? How about Bridget Jones’? Do you think you could ever actually go through with it or would you cave and come back like George Costanza? Or would you just drop the mic and get the hell out of there? Share in the comments section below.