If You Give Up at Work, Do You Still Deserve a Pay Check?

Because that's what Lamar Odom did and dude is gonna make millions.

Apr 16, 2012 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

Not so many years ago, I had a job I really loved. The work was challenging, fun and creative, and my boss was smart, supportive and also a dear friend.

Then she quit.

And was replaced by a woman we like to call Soccer Mom. 

I’ve written briefly about Soccer Mom once before, but in short, this woman was everything you would never want in a boss. She ignored me (once for 37 days straight), she passed off my work as her own, she gave me completely unreasonable last-minute deadlines, she threw me under the bus when things didn’t go as planned, and she was rude, demeaning, and, worst of all: a complete moron.

For example, this story:

We’re having our weekly staff meeting. She claims that we might be working with the former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine on a project. “Oh, Ruth Reichl?” I ask.

“No,” she says. “That’s not her name.”

“Really?” I question. “I’m pretty sure that’s the former editor-in-chief of…”

“No, it’s Amy something or rather.”

“OK. Although that made me think. You were asking me for suggestions for your book club” (this was toward the beginning before we became sworn enemies) “and I think you might really like some of Ruth Reichl’s memoirs.”

“Thanks. I need a good suggestion. We just read the most horrific book. It was just so boring and pointless and terrible.”

“Wow. Sounds awful. What was it?”

“I can’t remember the name. ‘Comfort Me with something or rather.’”

“Comfort Me with Apples?”

“Yes!”

“Uh, yeah. That’s actually the Ruth Reichl memoir I was suggesting…”

I CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP, PEOPLE. (And I have witnesses, lest you think I am.)

Also, I get that isn’t a very good example of how mean she was, but she was mean, just trust me on that one. Also, she wore entire head-to-toe green velour sweatsuits with matching green tennis shoes and—wait for it: a matching green scrunchie. Did I mention that she was a VP?

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I worked for a Vice President who wore this in her hair. OFTEN.

Anyway, as I’m sure not a single one of you will be shocked to hear, when someone pisses me off, I can get a little, how shall we say it, CHILDISH. Like name-calling, making fun of outfits (see above), petulant behavior. I know. YOU CANNOT BELIEVE A WORD I AM SAYING. And yet, it is true. I promise.

Now that I’ve shattered all of your preconceived notions about my overwhelming maturity and professionalism, I’ll continue with the story:

So Soccer Mom was a biotch. And I was miserable. Like crying every day at work before 10 a.m. miserable. And I wasn’t even rolling into that place until like 9:45 because the more miserable I became, the more of a horrible worker I became. Like I said: professional! So finally, after months of agony and becoming the worst alcoholic version of myself known to man, I took a Xanax, went into the CFO’s office, and asked him to lay me off.

Quitting, you see, was not an option as I was living paycheck to paycheck. I could only pull this feat off if I could finagle some unemployment out of it. Lucky for me, he agreed.

I had to stay another two months (during which time my boss proclaimed how much better everything seemed to be to which I responded “YES BECAUSE I QUIT”) and then I could leave with my head held high-ish, two weeks severance, and unemployment.

(It should be noted that I was a pretty amazing and loyal employee for the entire three years leading up to this woman’s arrival, so I think it was clear that though I was behaving like a brat, it was somewhat warranted and out of character.)

What’s my point in all of this?

I’m wondering if workers deserve to be paid after they leave the company and if so, how much? Obviously, I think my deal was pretty fair. I was more or less pushed out of my position (again, you’ll just have to trust me on that), and if anything, I got a little less than I think I deserved.

But then you have someone like Lamar Odom, the NBA forward who was traded by the Lakers to the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks last December. Whether you watch Odom on the court or just in the reality show “Khloe & Lamar,” it was evident that the trade crushed Odom’s spirits.

But instead of dealing with it like a man (not in a sexist way!), dude threw a total temper tantrum Daisy-style and just totally gave up. 

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Quitter.

I don’t meant to be unsympathetic because I can only imagine what it would feel like if one day xoJane traded me to The Gloss for one of their writers. It would hurt my feelings! But that’s also not standard protocol in this industry (and no, Jane, I am not trying to give you any ideas!) whereas in professional sports, being traded is part of the game.

In a nutshell: Lamar Odom wasn’t happy he was traded. We can never know what was going on with him physically, but we can surmise from his play on the court that he wasn’t “feeling” it. Whatever that means.

All I know as a spectator is that suddenly this guy who was pretty awesome for the Lakers SUCKED for the Mavs. He was late. He was surly. He was vacant.

And I don’t care if you’re the owner of an NBA team or of a small start-up. That kind of behavior isn’t going to cut it.

Listen. I know that when confronted with a horrible, no-good, terrible, awful boss, I should have risen to the circumstances and conquered them. Or at least: I know that now. I actually don’t regret a single instance of what happened in that having a horrible boss allowed me to realize that I’d prefer to work myself and start a career as a freelance writer/editor.

I do wish I’d handled things more professionally, but even then: shit happens. Certainly, I regret giving a terrible woman who wears outfit-matching scrunchies an office-wide nickname, but also: Don’t be a bitch! And don’t wear scrunchies.

But here’s where I’m confused. Lamar Odom knew what he signed up for from the very beginning. Getting traded was always an option. As it is for almost every single player in the NBA. Unfortunately for him, the way he responded to his trade -- apathy, insubordination, tardiness -- was reason enough for the owner of the team, Mark Cuban, to banish him from the Mavericks after a heated halftime confrontation where Cuban questioned Odom’s commitment to the team.

Apparently there was none. Because now Odom is without a team, but still owed another $1 million for the season with a $2.4 million buyout payment owed in June.

My situation is hardly comparable. I feel I suffered at my job. For months. In turn, I was given two weeks compensation and a chance at unemployment. Lamar Odom, however, gave up. He never even tried to make it work in his new situation and now he’s being paid millions of dollars. 

Charles Barkley says this is “a joke.” And that Lamar “doesn’t deserve to get paid for what he put out there this year.”

So what do you think? Should Lamar Odom be rewarded for quitting? Have you ever felt like you had no other choice but to quit? Dish it in the comments, pretty please.