20 Crazy, Outrageous, Sad and Infamous Last Days at Work
Most employees give their two-weeks' notice, tie up all of their outstanding projects, have some kind of debrief meeting with their supervisor and make the rounds to exchange hugs and handshakes before heading out the door on their last day of work.
Others choose a more unconventional course of action, from storming out in a fury to throwing food at people to cutting off President Donald Trump's primary communication channel.
You can go out gracefully or defiantly. You can announce your departure in advance or do something to get yourself fired. Either way, it’s on to a new beginning, which sometimes might mean new responsibilities within the same organization, if you’re lucky. Or it might mean working for yourself or achieving fame and success. Or it might mean probation, fines or court dates, if you left a not-so-legal lasting impression.
Click through the slideshow for some of the most memorable last days of CEOs, pop stars and regular folks who did more than just run out the clock.
A flight attendant escaped via the plane’s emergency chute.
In August 2010, former JetBlue Airways flight attendant Steven Slater reportedly announced his decision to leave his role with the airline by exiting a plane via its emergency chute.
The plane had just landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and while it was still taxiing and passengers were expected to stay seated with their seatbelts fastened, one person stood up and proceeded to remove items from an overhead bin. Slater reportedly addressed the passenger, and the exchange became heated.
From there, Slater used the plane’s intercom to curse out passengers and say he was “done,” a source told CNN. He then took two beers from a beverage cart, activated an emergency slide and disappeared onto the tarmac.
Later, at his home, Slater was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. He ultimately served one year of probation, paid $10,000 in fines to JetBlue and completed a year-long mental health treatment program.
In a November 2017 interview with The Washington Post (pegged to an incident in which a former Twitter contractor deactivated President Donald Trump’s Twitter account on his last day), Slater provided additional insight into his behavior. It was a stressful time for him, as his mother (who passed away in 2011) had lung cancer, and he was balancing the travel required for his job witicroh caring for her. He was also dealing with his own health issues as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and he said he’d been frustrated with JetBlue for some time.
A Twitter contractor deactivated President Trump’s account.
For 11 minutes on Nov. 2, 2017, President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was deactivated. It turned out the person responsible for temporarily shutting down the account was former Twitter contractor Bahtiyar Duysak, and it was Duysak’s last day on the job.
He worked in Twitter's Trust and Safety division, and part of his job description was to field user-generated reports of offensive or illegal tweets. When he received one about Trump’s account on that fateful last day, he proceeded with the process to deactivate the account. He told TechCrunch that he didn’t realize it would actually happen, given that offensive tweets deemed "newsworthy" are often treated as exceptions.
Duysak, who left Twitter and returned to Germany when his visa to live and work in the States expired, has repeatedly called the incident a "mistake” and said he didn’t mean to hurt anyone or break any rules. The fact that it happened on his last day was a coincidence -- he wasn’t trying to make any sort of statement or grand exit.
Spike TV adopted the persona of a fired worker on social media.
When Viacom announced it would launch Paramount Network and replace Spike TV, Spike TV became a character in the promotional campaign surrounding the rebranding.
The Spike TV Twitter account took on the personality of a worker who was bitter about having been fired, tweeting flippantly about Spike TV’s programming and logo, as well as sharing various potty-mouthed confessions.
I clogged up the 4th stall in the 7th floor men’s room over 30 times last year.— SPIKE (@spike) January 16, 2018
At first glance, it looked like whoever was in charge of Spike’s social media presence had gone rogue. In fact, this characterization of the Spike TV brand was part of a PR campaign surrounding Paramount’s takeover of the channel.
“He’s confronting an existential crisis, having a bit of a meltdown in public,” said Red Fabbri, Spike TV’s vice president of fan engagement and editorial, in an interview with Adweek.
A Hawaiian government worker labeled a missile threat drill 'not a drill.'
On the morning of Jan. 13, 2018, the Hawaiian government issued television alerts and mobile phone push notifications to 1.4 million people, stating, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Well, it was meant to be a drill. The unidentified worker who initiated the alerts had to choose between two options on a computer program drop-down menu: “Test missile alert” and “missile alert.” He was supposed to select the former for an internal test, but he thought a real attack was underway.
Needless to say, that day was the last day on the job for the emergency employee responsible for the error. However, the mistake wasn’t dire enough to cost him his career right away. He was repositioned within the government organization in an undisclosed role until his ultimate firing on Jan. 26.
State officials characterized the former employee as having had “performance issues,” and that Jan. 13 was not the first time he mistook a drill for a real-world event, according to The Verge.
The former Groupon CEO posted an honest memo about his firing.
Mason held his position for four and a half years, and he started off the letter by joking that he was resigning to spend more time with his family. Then, he quickly pivoted: “ Just kidding -- I was fired today.” He cited “controversial metrics,” Groupon’s “material weakness” and “a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price” among the reasons for his ousting.
“You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance,” he told his former employees. “I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance.”
He told readers not to be concerned about him, said he loved Groupon and accepted his own failure. Then, he made a video game analogy: “If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through,” he wrote. “I'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.”
He ended on a piece of practical wisdom: “have the courage to start with the customer.”
Ann Curry cried on air when announcing her departure from her ‘Today’ co-host role.
Former Today show anchor Ann Curry was fired in 2012 after co-hosting the morning show with Matt Lauer for less than a year.
“For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball to the finish line, but, man, I did try,” Curry said on air, surrounded by colleagues Lauer, Al Roker and Natalie Morales.
At the time, it seemed Curry’s departure was due to poor ratings.
“She was the network’s go-to humanitarian, but next to the polished, glib Mr. Lauer she most often looked like the class goodie-goodie who can’t keep up with the joke,” Alessandra Stanley wrote for The New York Times in January 2012.
In 2013, New York Magazine reported that Curry’s firing was more due to Curry upstaging Lauer. In 2017, NBC fired Lauer as a result of sexual misconduct.
Guests and cooks autographed parts of New York City’s Four Seasons on the restaurant’s closing night.
After 57 years in business, the last day at New York City’s iconic “power lunch” restaurant The Four Seasons was like a big party. Guests -- from first-timers to decades-long regulars -- took selfies and pictures of their food, ate cotton candy, waded in the pool one last time, drank the bar nearly dry and signed plaques on their way out the doors. The plaques, along with other elements of the Manhattan institution, were later auctioned off.
Cooks signed each other’s whites with permanent marker, according to The New York Times.
Co-owner Julian Niccolini tore down a banner that featured the restaurant’s logo and wrapped himself in it, according to The Daily Beast. For part of that last day, he also wore a hard hat bearing the Four Seasons logo.
Michael Jackson spent the last day of his life in rehearsals and meetings.
Performer and “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, who died in June 2009, spent his last waking hours rehearsing an elaborate performance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Jackson reportedly left to attend some meetings late into the night, and the following morning, dispatchers received a 911 call from his home.
His vocal director, Dorian Holley, told Time that Jackson “maintained a ferocious, perfectionist pace” throughout that day’s rehearsals, contrary to rumors that he was frail or disengaged toward the end of his life.
A server at a popular Brooklyn pizza restaurant stripped down.
In January 2013, a waitress at popular Brooklyn eatery Roberta’s, known for its wood-fired pizzas, was spotted serving tables butt-naked.
Aside from some ripped fishnet stockings and the words “PEACE OUT” written on her back, the waitress was making her rounds completely naked.
Gawker confirmed that it was the waitress's last day on the job.
Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly had dined at Roberta’s just four months earlier.
Former President Barack Obama made thank-you calls.
After eight years in office, former U.S. President Barack Obama spent the bulk of his day on Jan. 19, 2017, making phone calls.
While Obama started his day with his usual Daily Presidential Briefing in the Oval Office, the only other event on his agenda for the day was a private lunch with former Vice President Joe Biden. He didn’t have any packing to do -- teams of movers and archivists handled those tasks for him, with the exception of some of his personal items which he cleared out in the days leading up to Inauguration Day. Meanwhile, he was busy tying up loose ends such as commuting the sentences of 330 prisoners.
Among those he spoke with on the phone on Jan. 19 were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he called a “strong, courageous, and steady” leader, referencing their “personal friendship,” according to NBC News.
Terry Sullivan, a member of the White House Transition Project, told the news outlet that he expected Obama would call members of his administration throughout the day and thank them as well.
“He’ll probably be calling some members of the Senate to encourage them and to tell them they can count on him to continue fighting for things important to his legacy,” Sullivan said. “That’s part of what a leader does.”
A video game developer made a custom game to say, ‘I quit!’
Upon departing his job at now-defunct video game developer 2K Australia in spring 2009, a man named Jarrad Farbs said goodbye in the best way he knew how: He made a game.
Farbs resigned from the developer to devote his energies to creating games for himself. The game he created before leaving, titled A Message for 2K Australia, featured the character Mario combined with his elements of his own game, Polychromatic Funk Monkey. Mario screams, “I quit!” as players lead him through the game’s landscape.
As the mini-game ends, Mario tells players that "his princess is in another castle,” a nod to Farbs’s new beginning, according to CNET.
If you have an updated version of Adobe Flash Player installed, you may still be able to play Farbs’s farewell game on his website.
A restaurant employee threw a five-pound cake at his boss.
The then 30-year-old caught his boss off guard by throwing the $22 sheet cake at his face, resulting in a bloody nose.
Porter had given his two-weeks’ notice prior to the incident. He pleaded not guilty in District Court to allegations of misdemeanor simple assault and criminal mischief, and he posted $1,000 bail. Needless to say, Porter wasn’t welcome in Friendly’s after the episode.
Madonna was fired for squirting jelly on a customer at Dunkin Donuts -- after one day.
Before she was a pop superstar, Madonna was a college dropout living in New York City, chasing fame. To support herself before her music career took off, she worked several foodservice jobs.
On her first day at Dunkin Donuts in Times Square, she squirted jelly filling on a customer and was fired on the spot, the Material Girl’s biographer Andrew Morton noted.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt shared lessons with employees and the world.
Jeff Immelt served as GE’s CEO from Sept. 7, 2001, until July 31, 2017, and on his last day in the role, he circulated a blog post of lessons that he’d shared with GE employees.
He began the letter explaining that he never stopped learning during his years at the company’s helm, then encouraged readers to learn from his experience, enumerating a list of 10 mantras.
Among them were, “set purpose with high standards,” “make the really tough decisions,” “keep perception and reality in sync,” “like the work more than the title” and more.
“Sometimes people want to ‘unload everything on their mind’ and call it candor. They feel better, everyone else feels worse,” Immelt wrote. “Always be transparent, but bring solutions. Remember that facts are a path to progress, not a way to pass judgment. Truth telling requires facts and context.”
You can read his entire letter on LinkedIn.
A producer created her own viral video to tell her boss she’s ‘gone.’
After months of dissatisfaction, former Next Media Animation video producer Marina Shifrin decided to document her frustrations -- and her intent to quit -- in a video titled, "An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West's ‘Gone.’"
Shifrin was in the office at 4:30 a.m. in summer 2013 when he recorded herself dancing and edited in the Kanye West song “Gone” and some messages for her former boss, The Telegraph reported.
In the video, she wrote, “For almost two years I’ve sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job. And my boss only cares about quantity and how many views each video gets. So I figured I'd make ONE video of my own. To focus on the content instead of worry about the views.”
A week after the video went viral, Shifrin appeared on the Today show alongside Queen Latifah. The actress and talk-show host offered Shifrin a job as a digital content producer for her website.
Today reported that Shifrin broke a year-long contract with Next Media Animation upon resigning via the video. A disagreement with her boss led her to circulate the video beyond family and friends -- she even emailed it to the now-defunct tabloid site Gawker to give it more traction.
Shifrin’s video has garnered 19,782,919 views on YouTube (as of Jan. 18, 2018) but is currently blocked due to copyright violations.
A nurse presented a cake iced with notice of her resignation.
Instead of formally giving notice of her resignation, Sarah Childers decided to break the news with a cake frosted with the words, “I quit!”
Childs worked at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash., for seven months before quitting on June 23, 2016, telling KOMO-TV that the institution had unfulfilled potential to “do so much good.” Her grievances included low pay, long hours, understaffing, poor training and a disproportionate amount of managerial time spent on write-ups and punishments for mistakes.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Kathleen Spears, communications manager of the Washington state Department of Social and Health Services, called the cake “quite likely the most unique ‘letter’ of resignation ever submitted to Western State Hospital.”
Jerry Seinfeld said, ‘Today is the last day I go to work.’
In 1998, writer Chris Heath chronicled the end of Seinfeld for Rolling Stone. On April 7, Seinfeld told Heath, “Today is quite an exciting day. Today is the last day I go to work. I go to work, I leave work. Tomorrow is different. Tomorrow is insanity. Tomorrow is going to the moon."
However, that night, the cast worked until midnight, then came in the following morning as well.
"I was listening to Mega 100 and McDonald's commercials, and my sunglasses were fogging up," Seinfeld told Heath when he arrived on April 8. "It was like a ton of bricks -- it was like the whole nine years crashed into the side of my face. It was heavy, man."
After 1 a.m., they were still taping. Seinfeld asked Larry David not to end the taping on a “pick-up,” meaning a filming of a couple of lines rather than a scene in its entirety. Seinfeld called it “a wrap” late that night, but the cast reconvened the following Sunday, April 11, to film the final scene.
Of course, Seinfeld’s comedy, TV and film career is ongoing today.
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick negotiated his resignation.
Travis Kalanick took a trip to Chicago in June expecting to hire executives for Uber, not to be fired from his role as CEO of the ride-hailing company he founded in 2009.
Venture capitalists Matt Cohler and Peter Fenton presented Kalanick with a letter from five of Uber’s major investors and demanded his resignation by the end of the day. The men spent the rest of the day in the room working out the details. At one point, Kalanick reportedly called Uber board member Arianna Huffington for advice, according to The New York Times.
At the time, Uber was embroiled in legal and ethical scandals, and the previous week, Kalanick had said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from the company. But investors quickly realized they would have to officially remove Kalanick for the company to recover.
By the end of the day, after hours in the hotel room, Kalanick had drafted a statement announcing his resignation.
Website Gawker published a headline that said ‘Fuck it.’
Snarky gossip website famously shut down in 2018 after wrestler Hulk Hogan and Silicon Valley billionaire teamed up and sued the company for publishing stories about their private lives.
Univision purchased Gawker and its sister publications and made the decision to shut down Gawker.com and rename after another one of its sites, Gizmodo.
On Aug. 21, 2016 Gawker.com featured a headline that read simply, “Fuck it,” which is still live here despite the site’s shutdown. It follows a list of links to past stories with various “fuck [it]” themes.
Gawker founder Nick Denton published a farewell post the following day, which is also still live, in which he wrote, “It was a matter of pride that Gawker ran stories that could not be published elsewhere.”
A broadcast journalist said ‘Fuck it, I quit’ on air.
After delivering a segment about an organization called the Alaska Cannabis Club, former KTVA Alaska on-air news reporter Charlo Greene admitted a major conflict of interest: She was the club’s operator. In that moment, she announced she was quitting the station to focus on advocacy for the legalization of marijuana full time.
You can watch the segment below.
This was in September 2014. Alaska voted to legalize marijuana in November 2014.
Two years later, Greene moved to southern California and began streaming a cannabis industry interview series, called The Weed Show, on YouTube. She’s also out on bail for a 54-year-prison sentence related to the Alaska Cannabis Club’s operations, which she spoke about on her show last May.