I don’t envy the Fox Mole right now.
This is the “You’ll Never Work In This Town Again” edition of the Fantasy Job Exit. In case you haven’t heard, because, say, you are a normal person with interests and/or hobbies who has been outdoors in the past day or two, Gawker just yesterday debuted a columnist identified only as the Fox Mole. It’s a current Fox News employee who, if not disgruntled, is far from being gruntled. On his way out, he’s volunteered to write columns for Gawker providing a secret look into the workings of his definitely-estranged-now employer.
So far, no major scoops. There’s some mildly embarrassing video of Mitt Romney talking about dressage. Then again, if you’ve ever seen Mitt Romney, that he both knows about and can pronounce dressage comes as no surprise. There are a few pictures of the employee restrooms. You have the sense that Gawker was hoping for a picture of Rupert Murdoch turning Force lightning on Geraldo Rivera. But so far none is forthcoming.
Although not much scandalous news coming from the molehill, it’s turned into a mountain already. Fox News notified Mediaite that “we know who it is.” They are figuring out which legal action to pursue. The two brief messages neatly translate to “[Mole] will never work in this town again if we can help it.”
Talk about ways to leave a job.
For better or for worse, Americans are our jobs. Unlike, say, Europe, where I hear you work only a few hours a week and then spend the rest of your time skiing and enjoying the socialized medicine, we absolutely slave. Nine to five doesn’t cut it. We disappear into our work. For fun, we read biographies of Steve Jobs.
For us, “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” have the same answer.
Except when they don’t.
That is a unique misery. “What do you do?” people ask. “Well,” you mumble, “I sort of am a PSAT tutor, but really I’m writing a fantasy novel about vampire dinosaurs who come to you in dreams to talk about love.” It’s the Day-Jobber’s lament. “I have to pay the bills, but it’s not who I am.”
It was a misery the Fox Mole seems to know well.
There is no good way of noting on your resume that you work at Fox News, but only under duress. “It’s not what it looks like!” you mouth. Meanwhile, all your applications elsewhere return metaphorically unopened.
And so long as you’re stuck at a Day Job, you fantasize. How to quit? How to burn your bridge as spectacularly as possible? What to say to the boss? What to say to that man in the front office whose laugh reminds you of an evil gnome?
It’s been happening ever since Moses told Pharaoh, “I quit!” and dragged all his co-workers with him across the Red Sea amid locusts and blackouts.
Still, as burning bridges go, this is the nuclear option, as the Mole admitted. It’s the media equivalent of that flight attendant who grabbed a drink, activated the slide, and sprinted to freedom when one passenger pushed him over the edge. If you have to go, it’s the way to do it. It’s dramatic, but less unnerving than the alternative of running through the cabin, mid-flight, murmuring about the Bible and needing to be subdued by the passengers.
If you aren’t an airline employee, the best vengeance is to air your employer’s dirty laundry. Remember the Wikileaker?
The only trouble with burning bridges is that if you are still working on the bridge at the time, you can get scorched pretty badly. But in the mean time, it’s a fun conflagration.