Often, as an impressionable youth, I’d heard the phrase, “Don’t burn your bridges!” Usually, this came from a parent, close relative, or maybe a school counselor. The premise is a simple one, but not one I’ve ever really put much stock into.
I would hear this whenever I expressed my feelings about quitting a job. And, I quit a lot of jobs. I know there are instances when an employee/employer relationship just ends and you’d want to keep the bosses as references or maybe keep the door open to returning if your departure was amicable. Me, I have never been in that position, so burning bridges is what I did. I set those Bi!@#($ Ablaze!
Burning Bridges and Moving Forward
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who wants to keep moving forward. I earned a degree in education so I felt it was completely okay to call into my furniture delivery job–after being sent into Wrigleyville to spend 10 hours walking up stairs within weeks of coming off light duty from a knee surgery (a form of punishment because I’d called in sick the Saturday before)–at 3 am to tell them I wasn’t coming in the next day, or ever again!
Hell, the one time I was asked to come back to work for a company was when I was recruited to come back to deliver pizzas and assistant mange a Domino’s Pizza in the late 80’s.
I had to go see the new head guy at the Fullerton and Kenton store in Chicago. I overheard him telling his manager of that store (shitty neighborhood delivery area) I would be perfect for Shitty Neighborhood Store store but he was reconsidering my hire because I told him I didn’t want to work that store. I was being recruited for the Six Corners Domino’s and that’s were I wanted to work.
When I overheard the district manager baby crying because I didn’t want to work Shitty Neighborhood Store, I told him that my safety was more important than his job and he could stick the whole thing up his ass. So yeah, burning bridges I am good at.
Don’t Look back at a Burning Bridge
Seriously, who wants to go back to a job after they’ve quit it? There is a reason you left so why not have some fun and make it so you have no choice but to move forward?
I can see the logic my parents had when they expressed to me I should leave those bridges alone in case I ever had to get back across. They lived in a simpler time when companies were loyal to their good employees, treated them well, and there was less of a need to leave for other employment. Hence, fewer bridges to burn.
Burning Bridges without lighting a match
I don’t always burn the bridges I cross. Sometimes, they are set ablaze before I can even get across. Sometimes, it’s the actions you chose just prior to walking across the bridge that leave a wake of fuel at your feet. Sometimes, it’s a twist of fate so ironic, Shakespeare would take lessons.
I had left a trail of burning ash when I graduated from college in 2004. Lying in the charred rubble were factory jobs, delivery jobs, truck driving jobs, and every shit job I ever had. I had a degree in education. I was a teacher. Fast forward eight years, tenure, an excellent teacher rating, and a master’s degree later and I am a highly educated substitute teacher.
My education led to my downfall in education. Will, are you getting this? It was while getting my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction that I really learned how to think outside the box while teaching. I’d had an epiphany. So, I sent out the memo that was misunderstood, which ultimately led to my resignation.
I finished my degree one month after resigning and after fifteen attempts in six years to get another teaching job, I still substitute teach. I no longer actively look for full time teaching jobs. I have my freedom as a substitute. I don’t have to grade homework or essays. I don’t have to administer tests, attend bullshit training or long winded, redundant meetings, and I still get to be in education.
Don’t worry about burning your bridges. In this day and age, it’s more likely someone or something is already filling the fuel cans for you as we speak. Proudly walk across that connector to your future, strike a match, and throw it over your shoulder as you step to the other side.