About a year ago, I quit my full-time job working at a Broadway Theatre.
I've had lots of jobs and I've quit lots of jobs, so when I was contemplating which story to share with you, the story of how I left my dream venue for the unknown seemed like the perfect one. Whether you're considering quitting your current job, or dreaming up your next step in life, I hope this tale gives you the strength to leap.
I worked on Broadway (Yes, Broadway. Musical numbers. Tourists. Right smack dab next to Times Square. Honest to goodness Broadway). My job was working as a porter, and I called myself the “Cinderella” of the theatre. During the day, I cleaned the lobby and backstage areas, unlocked all the doors, and turned on all the lights. In the evening for showtime, I got to go to the ball, which meant dressing up a little bit and welcoming hundreds of people into the theatre — and also being ready at a moment's notice to clean up vomit, spills, etc. It was not a glamorous job in the slightest. However, when you're a playwright living in Brooklyn and dreaming that one day your words will be spoken on a Broadway stage, even the slightest proximity to your dream can fill a girl with hope. On bad days, I felt like Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" as I cleaned up after the people who had made it. But on good days, I took pride in the fact that I got to see how Broadway really and truly works.
Why I Quit
I had been a full-time porter for two years. I had union health benefits (hands-down amazing insurance) and the best pay rate I had ever had. My reason for quitting was simple: I was moving out of New York with a plan to move back home to the Los Angeles area. In terms of reasons to tell your employer that you're quitting, this seems like an easy pill to swallow. I'm not quitting out of rage. I'm not quitting for a different job. I'm quitting because I literally won't reside in the correct state to do the job. Nonetheless, quitting was still difficult for me personally. I didn't have long-term housing setup in L.A. I didn't have a job established in L.A. I was moving back because I needed the sunshine again (side note: My plan to move to L.A. didn't work out for obvious reasons. No job lined up and no long-term housing lined up; however, I currently reside in Boise and we do get sunshine here, so all is well). I was quitting because in order for me to achieve long-term happiness, I had to live in a state other than New York. By listening to my heart, I knew that no matter what happened next, I was making the right decision.
Step 1: Formulate A Timeline
Once I knew when I wanted to quit my job, I had to decide on two other dates: The date that would serve as my 'End Date,' and the date that I would tell my employers that I would be quitting. I chose an 'End Date' that was about a week before my moving date. And I decided to tell my employers that I would be quitting over a month before I quit. This was probably the most notice I have ever given a job. I've unfortunately quit other jobs with little to no notice if I was in a job where I was completely frustrated and it was time to cut ties immediately. I've quit jobs where I've given the polite two weeks notice. I allowed more time with this job, because I was handing over the keys to a Broadway Theatre. They had to find someone they could trust to give those keys to, and I wanted them to have plenty of time to find my replacement.
Step 2: Tell the Right People You're Quitting
When it came time to quit, it would seem like there would be only one person for me to tell. My boss. However, in my particular line of work, there were a lot of people who could technically be considered my 'boss,' and I wanted to tell each individual in the right order. I made sure to talk to each person in person. Again, there are a lot of ways to give notice (letter, email, phone call, etc). With this particular job, I wanted the face to face contact and to thank them for the opportunity to work on Broadway. I started off by notifying my immediate supervisor. She was the one who trained me, set my weekly schedule and would train my replacement. I wanted her to know immediately so that she could start putting out replacement feelers. I then notified my manager. I sat down and thanked her for the experience. I then notified my manager's manager.
Step 3: Tell Your Co-Workers
Telling my co-workers was the hardest part. You see, I'm the type of person who likes to make a clean exit. I hate goodbyes. Hate them. I usually avoid doing them altogether. This time around, I wanted to own my decision to quit my job and move out of state with a whole lotta pride. I wanted to truly own my decision. I started off by telling the folks I work with closely during any given shift. I told my favorite bartenders who work front-of-house. I told the ticket taker. I told my usher friends. I told the crew people of the show that was playing at that time that I was leaving. One of them even arranged for me to watch a performance from the sound booth, which was really exciting.
Step 4: Enjoy the Finale
For me, the final month of my theatre gig felt like it had a little extra pixie dust sprinkled on top of it. With every job I've had, I find myself always romanticizing it near the end. Even the parts of the jobs that frustrated the heck out of me. I found myself looking at the big picture. I would stand in the lobby and watch hundreds of people pour into the theatre. Some of them experiencing Broadway for the first time in their lives. Some of them were repeat visitors because the show had moved them to tears on their first visit. And here I was. Holding the keys to the venue. Responsible for this building that brought so much magic to New Yorkers, visitors, and especially myself. If I was tired and mopping the backstage area, I would stop myself and remember the fact that I was casually working backstage on Broadway. Sure, I wasn't starring in the show, but I was paying my dues. I was learning. And learning about the world that you hope to someday call your own, is priceless.
Step 5: Goodbye For Now
I thoroughly enjoyed my goodbye of my Broadway job. I saw my final viewing of the show from the sound booth. I arranged a gathering at my favorite bar across the street after the final performance that I worked. I felt like I had tied all of the loose ends together. Some things didn't go as planned, such as the toilets in the men's bathroom overflowing on my last day. I figure it was the building's way of crying its tears of goodbye for me. Another thing, I hate goodbyes. I found myself uncomfortably saying, 'Don't worry, I'll be right back!' Even though I know it might be a year or so before I make it back for a visit. I do have to say, the best part of leaving was meeting my replacement. She was a burst of sunshine. I knew she was a perfect fit for the quirky world of working in a Broadway theatre. I was excited for her, and it helped me to know in my heart that the experience I had there was one of a kind. Even with all of its hiccups. Even with the bad days. Because no matter what, I worked on Broadway. I can honestly say that I worked a job that only a small group of people have worked and understand well. It's kind of an honor to have worked it. It's kind of an honor to take the next step to ask yourself, So what's next?
I can't wait to find out.
Erika Jenko is a playwright and theme park junkie trying to navigate the magical world of adulting. Also, a YouTuber and blogger at www.subwaymouse.com.