The Haught guide to burning career bridges
I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve come to the end of my professional tether more than once in my time. I’ve reached the point where a steady income has seemed far less preferable to escaping a certain work environment – escaping out into a world of destitution where the blisters are extravagant, the hunger is hallucinogenic, but where the absence of corporate nerds telling me how “key” it is that my “deliverables” are “actioned” in a “timely manner” on a “go forward basis” is like a salve for my flayed soul.
Yes, several times I’ve approached the edge of the career abyss and thought, “Oo, that gaping void looks alluring.”
I’ve fantasised about its darkness. Its coolness. Its quietness. I’ve considered that there might be Bach playing approximately halfway down. I’ve conjectured that there is a fernery at the bottom.
What’s stopped me from stepping into the pleasant nothingness? The truth.
There is no fernery.
The abyss isn’t a conduit to a dignified exit. It is a wormhole to the bridge-burning fantasy taken to its most exotic extreme:
Lurid PA announcements.
Wanton desecration of a despised colleague’s most cherished material possessions.
Brutally candid exit interviews.
The introduction of box jellyfish into the toilets on every level of the building.
In many cases the will was there, make no mistake. As I simmered so did my ideas on what I would do when blessed emancipation finally arrived. Some of them reduced down to moments of utter depravity – the sort of stuff that has people running from buildings yelling “Oh god! He’s riding a bison!”
I knew it would be cathartic and hugely enjoyable but it would only work if I could be certain I would never again encounter any of the people my nuclear dummy-spit affected.
And I couldn’t, so I didn’t.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t.
So long as you know you’ll humiliate, spray or trample only those who will have no bearing on your future career, saddle up that bison and plunge headlong into the abyss.
An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
You can read the column – Benign to Five – in those papers every Saturday, and if you miss it, you can look it up online in the Workplace section of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, WAToday and Brisbane Times. (I now wankishly call myself a “syndicated columnist” on my CV.)