336-hour bar

Austin Belet, Opinions editor

There is one 14-day period that is perhaps one of the strangest habits in American work culture that I have experienced in my life: the time between submitting a two week notice and properly leaving a job. 

We all work jobs that we don’t necessarily want to be at – for some it is waiting tables and for others it is filing paperwork. The whole reason most of us are on this campus is because we want to help facilitate compelling and interesting careers that fulfill our innate need for a deeper purpose.

So when we are at the jobs that seem to suck the life out of us, these jobs that pay us virtually nothing for more work than the wage is worth, these jobs that we take out of a need rather than a want, it makes sense that we will seek a way out of them. 

So for a server who finally gets into the job field they want to work in, it would make sense that they want to move in as fast as possible- however, there is an inevitable 336 hour bar that precludes them from starting as quickly as possible:

The two week notice.

This puts us all in this strange limbo state of not needing/wanting to be where you are while simultaneously knowing that you have no true obligation to stay there. You could walk out of that building at any time with no repercussions other than that employers unwillingness to vouch for you- but right now you don’t really need it.

The only thing that binds us to the workplace and the only thing that stops people from walking out of the workplace off the cuff is the bonds we form with the staff that we have had to suffer alongside. You know that our abrupt absence would cause a nightmare for all of your former co-workers. You also acknowledge that your sudden leave would lead to someone taking on a heavier workload than before simply by one less body being present. 

On the flip side, you also know that you can be replaced in the blink of an eye, that your absence leads to someone else’s pay bump- if only for a moment, and that you will have a largely negligible effect on the day to day operations of this establishment that controls how you schedule your life week to week. 

Two week notices should be reserved to place that need them to stabilize operations. High level management, integral team members, and people with set schedules. At a place like a restaurant or somewhere where you can find a replacement within a week, why does it really matter? All that occurs is holding someone back from a new opportunity and preventing others from doing better for themselves. 

Perhaps this stems from my own ignorance on the nature of employees leaving the workplace, perhaps it’s my preference toward the worker rather than the employer, but all the same it seems to be a silly standard. 

Most people, though not all, do not come to these sorts of jobs because this is their life’s passion; generally a person works there to be able to get where they are trying to go. At my first job my boss very explicitly stated that he wanted it to be a “lily pad” for his employees to get started and keep moving. To this day, despite giving them a five day notice, he is still glad to see me when I stop in to say hello. 

Business creates a variation of Stockholm Syndrome with their employees where they feels as though their employees owe them everything. In reality, businesses owe everything to their employees. If not for the people willing to work there and put up with the irritation that comes from these low-wage jobs they wouldn’t have a business to run. If it weren’t for the fact that we have built a system that makes getting a reasonably paying job so difficult to attain so we have to settle for lower wages, therefore allowing businesses to get away with underpaying workers for their time, we wouldn’t be in these industries. If i could have started doing what I am going to school to do out of the gate when I was 18, I likely would have put off school until I could’ve set myself up. 

The reality was that I wouldn’t have been able to set myself up. The reality is most people can’t, at least not without something there to help. 

And life is short, why bother slaving at a job you can’t stand? If I spend 10 years in an industry that I hate then it isn’t worth it. I would rather make less money for a job I love doing that make more money for a job that I wish I could leave.


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