Recently Chicago Tonight lost a couple of young staffers to great, new career opportunities. They were wonderful colleagues and, while very sorry to see them go, I am happy they are doing what all young people should do — explore new paths and learn more about themselves. Each left graciously; there were teary eyes, good-bye celebrations, and everybody’s sincere wishes for their success.
But when someone leaves a job, I can’t help but think of my favorite passage in literature on the subject. It comes from Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham. Philip, the protagonist, has been miserable working as a clerk. When he decides to leave, he has the following exchange with his immediate supervisor, Mr. Goodworthy:
“For ten months I’ve loathed it all. I’ve loathed the work, I’ve loathed the office, I loathe London. I’d rather sweep a crossing then spend my days here.”
“Well I must say, I don’t think you’re very fitted for accountancy.”
“Good-bye,” said Philip, holding out his hand. “I want to thank you for your kindness to me. I’m sorry if I’ve been troublesome. I knew almost from the beginning I was no good.”
“Well, if you really do make up your mind it is good-bye. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but if you’re in the neighbourhood at any time come in and see us.”
Philip gave a little laugh.
“I’m afraid it sounds very rude, but I hope from the bottom of my heart that I shall never set eyes on any of you again.”
How’s that for going out with candor? No need for an exit interview, I would say!