Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giving notice

It's hard to leave a company that lets you get creative with fruit.

Up until recently I've been conflicted...and downing antacids like pink-flavored Pez. It all had to do with this thing called "two weeks notice," or TWN for short.

In the U.S. it's common to give just TWN when leaving a company. In part, it gives the employer some time (albeit, not much) to get ready for a personnel change. And it helps protect the soon-to-be former employee should the company decide to say "How about you just leave today." And this does happen, because unlike in some other countries, many companies here can fire an employee without cause. We call that "at-will employment." And in my case, being prematurely "let go" would not only mean financial loss, but also the loss of health care coverage.

But what do you do when you consider your coworkers good friends? Giving TWN not only feels callous, but it also means you can't share a big step in your life with people you care about. Plus, it makes weekend recaps rather dull:

Coworker asks: What'd you do this weekend? 
I think: I woke up early to triple check pet import requirements...hauled my cats to the vet for vaccinations and international micro-chipping...sold my couch, TV and dining table...had a minor nervous breakdown...started itemizing all of my belongs...read and re-read German residence card requirements...[inaudible, even to my own mind]...joined several expat forum websites...added eleven to-dos to my list...and finally fell asleep on the floor while streaming a two-month-old episode of the Daily Show because I've had NO TIME to keep up with it...
I say: Not much. Just ran a few errands. Nothing exciting.

So against the advice of my family and non-work friends, I decided to give five weeks of notice instead of two. I gathered up all of my courage, drank about two liters of coffee and took deep breaths until I nearly passed out. Then I went into my boss' office and said I had an announcement.

It's important to mention that I work for the public relations department of a large company, and several of our people have recently migrated to the marketing department. So my boss' first question probably shouldn't have thrown me off.

Her: You're going to marketing, aren't you?
Me:  What? Wait. What? No. Wow..no no, nothing like that. I'm just moving to Germany.
Her: Wait, What?

The next few minutes were fill with hugs, laughter and a few tears. I felt like a huge moving truck had been lifted from my chest, and upper management said I could stay as long as I wanted. Whew!

Of course, I wouldn't recommend others stray from the TWN rule unless they're sure they'll like the response from management. But for me, giving more notice was definitely the right choice. The antacid market may see a dip though.


  1. Wow, I can def relate to that experience. When I told my former boss that I'd be moving to Colombia, I gave more than a 2-weeks notice. And the days leading up to our talk were so challenging! When I finally broke the news to her, she asked "Are you well?" and proceeded to feel my forehead, lol. It all worked out though, and I am so excited for you!

  2. Thanks Afiyah! It's amazing how much better your feel afterward, but it's still so hard leaving friends.