June 2, 2005 – Who quits by fax?

Today started out as a typical Thursday at Mishima NOVA. Students showed up, teachers taught English, all was normal. In the evening I had an empty lesson and was catching up on some paperwork in the teachers room. I went out front to make a copy, when Patrick the manager started to read an incoming fax.

Patrick read the fax, paused, read it again, and then said “Rumi, please remove Kasparov from the schedule. He doesn’t work here anymore”. Rumi was confused, and not sure if she understood the request. Patrick repeated “Kasparov just quit and doesn’t work here anymore. Please remove him from the schedule”.

It was no secret that Kasparov was not happy working as an English teacher for NOVA. A lot of people sign up to teach English in order to move to Japan, but then realize that the actual teaching is not the fulfilling career choice they thought it would be. Turnover for English teachers is fairly high, but most of the teachers who leave give 2-4 weeks of notice.

Kasparov was an accomplished coder, having developed software as a hobby. His Japanese was also quite good. Unbeknownst to everyone, he had been searching for a new job and had just been hired to do custom coding for a small business in Gotemba. However, in order to get the job, he needed to change the category on his working visa.

Kasparov’s fax explained that as of this morning, he had completed the change to his working visa, and he was no longer legally allowed to work at NOVA. Instead of giving any warning or indication that something was going to happen, he sent a fax on his day off and just never came back. It was one of the biggest dick moves I have ever seen.

Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the week at NOVA. Removing one teacher from the schedule created a panic for the staff, who had to try to juggle lessons and find a quick replacement teacher (in an area short of teachers) before finally cancelling lessons and calling students to apologize.

Kasparov quit by fax in order to stick it to NOVA. Overall, the effect on the company was very small, unlike the effect his sudden departure had on his former coworkers and students. He was not exactly popular before he pulled this stunt, and he definitely wasn’t going to win any popularity contests afterwards.

If you have a grudge with your employer, don’t quit in a way that screws over your former coworkers or the customers. That’s just being an asshole.

(2015 Update) My original post on the subject was 2 sentences long with no details because I wasn’t sure who was reading my blog. I should have posted it anyways – it’s not like anyone other than Kasparov would have disagreed with me.

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  1. June 16, 2005 – Farewell party for Kasparov | Drinking in Japan
  2. Late Saturday shift at the Eikaiwa | Drinking in Japan

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