CHINA - Would you quit your job if the heavens opened and you didn't own an umbrella?
This isn't the opening line of a corny joke or a lame excuse to ask for a day off. It's a genuine question posed to Cherol Cheuk, a manager at human resources provider Hudson Shanghai.
Cheuk said the president of a company she doesn't want to name for reasons of client confidentiality, received a phone call from his assistant one morning. She cited the above excuse as her reason for quitting on only her third day on the job. Both Cheuk, a human resources professional for more than 20 years, and the company president described the move as "ridiculous".
The "no umbrella" story is highly unusual, of course, but young people quitting their jobs very shortly after starting - within three months or even three days - for reasons beyond the comprehension of older workers, is a relatively new phenomenon in China, and has spawned a new term, "flash quit".
After three rounds of interviews, Hu Xiao, a top student at Fudan Journalism School, was offered a position as a marketing trainee with Kimberly Clarke, the global health products provider on the Fortune 500 list of top companies. It's a job most of his peers would move heaven and Earth to get.
The prospects were enticing; although Hu did not divulge a specific figure, he claimed the salary on offer was "way higher than the monthly average of 4,500 yuan (S$900) among Fudan graduates".
The daily commute posed few problems. After riding just nine stops on Line 8 of the Shanghai subway, Hu would arrive at his office, located in People's Square, right in the heart of the city. A ride of no more than 30 minutes and with no transitions is a blessing compared with the travails of most cosmopolitan dwellers. However, Hu still found it "a little bit troublesome to travel to and from work every day" because he "lives on the outskirts of the city", although in the eyes of many observers, his residential area is not on the outskirts at all.
Despite all these favourable conditions, 24-year-old Hu quit his job in October, three months after he started.