10 Houston residents share why they quit their jobs during the ‘Great Resignation’

Quitting (KPRC 2)

Everyone loves a good quitting story, because, at some point or another, everyone dreams of quitting.

Oscar Martinez, the neurotic accountant from the much-beloved workplace sitcom “The Office” said it best: “I love a good quitting story. It makes me feel like I have control of my own life. It gives me hope. Maybe I’ll have one of my own some day. But I dream.”

For millions of Americans, Oscar’s dream is now a reality. More than 38 million people voluntarily left their jobs in 2021. And 4.5 million of those quit in November alone — the highest one-month total on record. The “Great Resignation,” the “Big Quit,” the “Great Reset,” whatever you call it, workers are resigning at a record pace.

Ten Houston residents who took part in the Great Resignation shared their quitting stories with us. They detailed why they got fed up with their workplace and what the proverbial “last straw” was: For a human resources generalist, it was a boss who lacked empathy when two family members died. For a marketing manager, it was a toxic workplace. For a registered nurse, it was a patient who threw a water pitcher in her face.

Read these and many other stories below. The responses were edited for clarity and content.

MORE: Did you quit your job? We want to hear from you!


Amy L., an emergency room social worker: " The degree of suffering and loss had become unbearable”

What prompted you to quit?

“I had been working in hospitals for seven years and by the time I resigned the workplace was a war zone. My desk was at the nurses station so I never got a break from patients and would frequently console nursing. There is no good way to describe what COVID-19 has done to health care. The degree of suffering and loss had become unbearable. The patients are sicker, impatient, rude, and would frequently curse and threaten staff. The nursing staff are exhausted picking up extra shifts and had no coverage for meals or the bathroom.”

“The last straw was was a few months ago when two patients coded all day long and the family was constantly at my desk yelling that ‘no one is doing anything,’ cursing, and slamming their fists in the counter by my head. Listening to the sound of CPR, the crying families, I had enough. I completed more DNR packets in the last two years than I had in my 10 years in the social work profession. I entered my profession with a desire to help people and communities -- not be yelled at, cursed at or threatened. The public no longer had the ability to be polite and civil.”

“I left a good-paying hospital job and am now working for a patient-focused organization that will not allow staff to be verbal or literal punching bags. People used to be Facebook trolls behind a keyboard, now they just say whatever they feel without fear.”

Tell us about your new job.

“I now work in a hybrid position providing support services to families of the chronically ill. Families and patients want help and I have been given all the resources I need to improve their quality of life. AND I make more money, and work from home with occasional home visits. I love this company and they promote a ‘work-life balance’ as part of the company philosophy.”

Do you have any advice for those who are considering leaving their jobs?

“Don’t wait until it’s unbearable. Seek another opportunity and grow personally and professionally. "


Chris H., a teacher: “I couldn’t imagine going back to being miserable every day”

Describe your former job. What prompted you to quit?

“I just had my second baby in July. School was about to start back and I couldn’t imagine going back to being miserable every day. Teaching is hard right now and my children do not deserve a mom who is constantly stressed out. My assistant principal was horrible to me, so I didn’t even go to her. I called HR and sent an email to my principal telling him that I already talked to HR. I wouldn’t be returning from maternity leave.”

Tell us about your new job.

“The future is in online schools, so I’m now working from home for an online school. The hours are much better. I have minimal stress. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

What was the job hunt like?

“Easy. The online school reached out to me. I interviewed through Zoom and was hired immediately. I couldn’t be happier.”

Do you have any advice for those who are considering leaving their jobs?

“LEAVE. If you are treated like you are replaceable, then you will be fine. As many times as I went above and beyond without even being asked, I was happy to leave them high and dry. My bosses could never say ‘thank you’ and never appreciated what I did, so I did not feel bad quitting and never looking back.”


Lori G., a registered nurse: “Consider a pay cut if it means improving your quality of life”

Describe your former job.

“I was a registered nurse in the hospital during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were required to work overtime, take unsafe patient loads, and still work ill. We didn’t get breaks, extra pay, bonuses or even support. We are forced to turn off our feelings, couldn’t even cry when we lost a patient because the next one was coming up. The board of nursing still requires us to complete extra education to maintain our license, which is added stress in a pandemic. I decided I would quit when I had been cursed at and had a water pitcher thrown at me by an angry patient because his ice melted, and I was too busy to get it as fast as he wanted.”

Tell us about your new job. What was the job hunt like?

“I took a $600 a month pay cut to get a position working from home. I took a leap and accepted a temporary position that led to a permanent position. I now make $800 less a month take home after insurance and I struggle financially. However, I am working from home, so if I get COVID-19 again I can continue to work. If my daughter’s day care closes, I can still work from home. My mental health has improved, due to not experiencing death consistently. I attend telehealth therapy sessions and I am working through the PTSD of a pandemic and grief/loss. I have less exposure risk, so I have less anxiety about my daughter being exposed, as she is a toddler. I save on gas which has made my financial struggle slightly less.”

“Watching so many die while defending political beliefs on their deathbed has taught me about humanity. We’re humans, all over the world, suffering the same disease. We’re facing the same struggles regardless of geographical location. Politics should not be a factor, humanity is the ONLY thing that matters. Listen to the science, the professionals, be safe, put self care first! Watching people die, that may otherwise have lived takes a toll on health care workers. Watching them die still lacking understanding is painful to endure. Seeing people still refuse vaccines and masks is a slap in the face to us out here trying to save lives! We are humans, be humane, do your part to slow the spread!”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Prioritize your needs! Consider how the change may affect your life. Consider a pay cut if it means improving your quality of life.”

“Don’t risk your health or happiness busting your behind for a corporation that sees you as an employee ID and not a person. If you’re not appreciated, MOVE ON. A pay cut may be temporary, struggle may be temporary, but the affects on your health or death are permanent. Don’t risk your life for a corporation!”


Anonymous detention officer: “My wife had been begging me to quit for months”

Describe your former job. When did you decide to quit?

“I was a detention officer working (in a jail). I knew I was going to quit the night before I was supposed to go into my next shift. My wife had been begging me to quit for months, because she saw what that job was doing to my mental and physical health. The thought of working there just one more day seemed impossible. So I emailed my boss, and said ‘I quit.’ That I was quitting for mental health reasons. I kept it short and simple.”

What prompted you to quit?

“A number of factors. Twelve-hour shifts, being severely understaffed for so long, toxic leadership, and obviously it was a jail, so the working conditions were extremely stressful. I’d wanted to work in law enforcement since I got out of the military three years ago, but I couldn’t handle that place.”

Tell us about your new job.

“I decided to use my G.I. Bill and go back to school to become a respiratory therapist. So I’m going to school full-time for that, while my wife has a good job that can support the both of us. My wife just asked if I could keep the house clean and be a ‘stay-at home house husband’ until I started school. So I did. And my house has been spotless ever since.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“It’s scary. But, if you aren’t happy with your job, or the way your career is headed, then do something about it. I want a career that I’m passionate about where I can truly help people. I didn’t feel like I could do that anymore so I decided to completely change the direction of my life...at 35.”


Jonathan R., marketing manager: “There was so much toxicity, backstabbing and the culture was just the absolute worst”

Describe your former job. What prompted you to quit?

“I was a marketing manager for an investment company that owned five companies. I was there about three years. I knew I was going to leave this job after a year in. There was so much toxicity, backstabbing and the culture was just the absolute worst. We were forced to go into the office during the height of the pandemic because the president of our company didn’t believe in working from home. It was a boys’ club-type atmosphere where no one was really held accountable for anything. I almost saw two grown men fist fight in the office in front of everyone.”

Tell us about your new job.

“I eventually got recruited into a new job where I’m working from home, making more money and without all of the drama.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Do it! Life is too short. If you’re at a job that is toxic or starts affecting your mental health or your life outside of work (family, friends, etc) LEAVE. Don’t get stuck in a toxic situation because you’re comfortable.”


Melanie, a special education paraprofessional: “It wasn’t worth $20K to break my own heart every day”

Describe your former job. When did you decided to quit?

“I was a special education paraprofessional. I knew in October it was time to go. I wrote up my resignation letter around Thanksgiving, made a plan with my husband to make it financially feasible, and my last day was the last day of the fall semester.”

What prompted you to quit?

“Horrible work morale among teachers, nothing being done for students or teachers with mental illness and trauma exacerbated by the pandemic, constant meaningless additions to the workload, and poor pay all prompted me to quit. It wasn’t worth $20K to break my own heart every day for a system that won’t help me or my students.”

Tell us about your new job.

“I got an amazing job offer from a consulting firm as an operations project coordinator making way more money and beginning a new career that allows room to grow. It’s so much more supportive. I have a better work-life balance, better pay, and better benefits. I also have so many opportunities to learn and grow. I do what I love, taking care of and helping people, but I have space to take care of myself now, too. I found this job through connections, but it’s been in the works for three years now.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Make connections. Use LinkedIn. Remember your worth. Do it. Do what’s best for you.”


Samantha N., a hospital operations manager: “Don’t be afraid to make a change”

Describe your former job.

“I used to be an operations manager at (a major Houston hospital). I had not planned on quitting, I planned on retiring (from this hospital). I knew a few months before putting in my resignation as it was amicable.”

What prompted you to quit?

“In September 2020 my husband, a financial wealth advisor, was offered an amazing job out in Ponte Vedra, Florida. It was an opportunity for me to be a stay-at-home mom after working in health care operations for over 10 years. It was a big decision for our family and for me personally, since it was my career! There has definitely been two sides to the pandemic in terms of job loss/growth. While most labor intensive and blue collar work has been suffering, there was and still is a huge demand for employees in the financial sector.”

Tell us about your new job. What was the job hunt like?

“After trying the stay-at-home mom thing for eight months I decided to get back into health care administration. I found it’s truly my passion and makes me happy. The job hunt was tight -- health care is booming because of the pandemic and while there are plenty of jobs for medical support staff and nurses, non-clinical management level roles are harder to come by. I chose to apply to lower level management roles than previously held because I did not want to have the full responsibility and pressure of my previous role. I received three offers from three different hospital organizations and chose the one that fit my values, needs, and quality of life the best.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Don’t be afraid to make a change and look into work-from-home positions. Our world is forever changed and now working from home is the norm and expected from many businesses, especially roles that don’t require customer-facing duties.”


Anonymous school bus driver: “The risks from exposure to COVID-19 was more than I could tolerate”

Describe your former job.

“I was a bus driver for a local school district. The risks from exposure to COVID-19 were more than I could tolerate. Mandates from transportation management including wearing face masks, face shields, leaving vents and windows open, and daily (disinfection of the) bus were over-the-top. Quitting was too easy. Just fill out a form and walk away.”

What prompted you to quit?

“Numerous other quits caused driver shortages. Remaining drivers had to do multiple routes. The school district was swamped with vacancies. Hiring more drivers is difficult. Obtaining a commercial driver license with appropriate endorsements, passing a medical physical, submitting to a background check, FBI fingerprint check, state certification and state training all contributed to a vacancy backlog that couldn’t be quickly filled, stressing the remaining workers.”

Tell us about your new job.

“Still looking for work, but I have my health.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Do it and never look back.”


Anonymous operating room technician: “You are just a number to them”

Describe your former job. When did you decide to quit?

“Surgical technologist. I knew I was going to quit within a month. I informed my supervisor that I was leaving and gave my two weeks’ notice.”

What prompted you to quit?

“It was a variety of factors. Inflation was increasing drastically and they wouldn’t give me a raise at the rate of inflation. I was also working too many hours to the point of not enjoying life outside of work. The bosses were judgmental in that I didn’t have the same beliefs as them. I eventually found a job elsewhere and never looked back.”

What was the job hunt like? Was it difficult to find a job that satisfied your needs?

“Looking for a new satisfactory job was difficult. I applied, applied, and applied everywhere. I have a BS and I thought it would be easier to find a job with an education. Most everyone I currently work with only has a (high school) diploma and make better income than those in the medical field. I wish I didn’t seek a college education at times. No wonder why college applications are at an extreme low.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Do it!!! If you are not happy with your current job, apply elsewhere. Worry about yourself and your family and do not worry about your supervisors. You are just a number to them.”


Anonymous human resources generalist: “Your mental health comes before any job”

Describe your former job. When did you decide to quit?

“I was an HR generalist at a small company. I knew I was going to quit when my boss lacked sympathy when I had two immediate deaths in my family.”

What prompted you to quit?

“Two of my immediate family members passed away and my boss told me I could only define one as a family emergency. I was very offended by the lack of empathy and it was the breaking point. I had been unhappy due to the difficult boss, but this made my decision clear. After I quit, I had been applying to different places and finally found a company with good culture.”

Tell us about your new job.

“I found a new job that wasn’t only a jump in pay grade but also the company culture and management is very empathetic and accommodating.”

Do you have any advice for those who are thinking about leaving their jobs?

“Your mental health comes before any job! The job will replace you within two weeks if you were to go.”


Did you quit your job recently? Share your quitting story with us here or in the comment section below.


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.