Mr Cake, I Applaud You

There are many ways to resign: with dignity, anger, absence, humour... alcohol (all five if you want to go out in style). But with a cake?

There are many ways to resign: with dignity, anger, absence, humour... alcohol (all five if you want to go out in style). But with a cake? Not one thrown in a 'Carry On' cream-covered-face moment either - rather one that was carefully crafted and covered in neat script detailing why they were leaving.

If you haven't seen this story, it's the tale of a UK Border Agency worker that spent hours baking a cake, which he then iced with a full explanation of why he was leaving. Like many, my initial thought was it was a form of protest, making a point about working conditions, pay etc. etc. Another one of those 'slate the company' resignations that finds its way around the world, as a disgruntled employee goes out in flames.

Remember the Goldman Sachs resignation letter from one employee that described the organisation as "toxic and destructive" - ouch. Double ouch when it appeared, printed in full in the New York Times. It sparked a number of spoof versions, including one from Darth Vader and others from employees of companies such as McDonalds. It seems that newspapers are a favoured way of the well paid to stick it to their departing employers, with plenty of examples littering the Internet.

Resigning is sometimes akin to performance art: the painful, can't quite watch variety. Joey DeFrancesco took a full marching band into the hotel where he worked, to soundtrack his triumphant exit upon handing in his letter - all filmed and available on YouTube. A high-ranking Merck employee also took to YouTube as part of their resignation process. Only for him, it was to air a series of risqué alternate comedian routines that both garnered him 7.4 million viewers and a polite request to resign.

To some, these are all funny, but ultimately harmless. Unlike the Jet Blue flight attendant's approach, who, furious at a passenger's refusal to stay seated, told the passengers "That's it, I'm done." Before grabbing a beer, pulling the door lever and sliding down the inflatable escape hatch (I'm assuming the plane was on the ground at the time...).

What I find interesting in all of this is the bias towards men making the grand/stupid gestures as they walk out of the building. I've seen lots of videos of men with the words 'I Quit' written large across their middle age spread - not one woman. Do we have more dignity, or just more to lose by doing such a thing?

But back to the cake, which isn't the first of its kind - it's actually a popular method of leaving. On closer inspection of the contents of the iced writing (something I thought I'd never say) it turns out that the gesture is rather lovely. The Agency employee, Chris Holmes, was leaving to both concentrate on his growing business and to have more time with his young family. He saw the cake as a nice way of telling his boss; it was even a passion cake to add a bit of spice to things.

It's nice that, in a world where people go out of their way to humiliate ex-employers and throw dirt around - often only giving us one side of the story, someone's making what can be a difficult moment for both parties that little bit easier. I've always seen work as a relationship that both sides have a responsibility to make successful - when relationships end there's often blame on both sides, and the choice is to recognise this and move on, or spend a day cutting one leg and arm off your partner's clothing. The latter's great short term, but I'd think twice about stepping into a relationship with someone who'd done so.

As a postscript, it's worth mentioning what Chris's burgeoning enterprise is... cake making. So, whilst a nice gesture he's also bought himself coverage that others can only dream of. Handily, his cake had his company website on, and his alternate moniker of 'Mr Cake'. Good for him, it's nice to hear of a win, win situation.

If someone were going to resign on me, I'd want to get over it with a cup of tea and nice slice of passion cake.


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