Joey Quits: Hotel Worker Tells Story Behind Viral Resignation Video
Like almost anyone who's ever held down a job, Joey DeFrancesco harbored dreams of one day quitting work in spectacular fashion.
The way 23-year-old DeFrancesco tells it, he worked a job he didn’t care for at a hotel in Providence, R.I., for more than three years. He often thought about leaving. In his own workplace fantasy, DeFrancesco would march right up to his boss with a letter of resignation. Upon handing it over, a brass band would explode into boisterous song. Then DeFrancesco would march out of the hotel in triumph, waving to his admirers.
The difference between DeFrancesco and the rest of us is that he actually carried out his fantasy.
"I hated them, and they hated me," DeFrancesco tells HuffPost, speaking of management at the Renaissance Providence Hotel, where he worked in room service. "It was this big drawn-out war we were having with management ... I knew I had to get one last shot at them."
A video posted online of DeFrancesco's resignation in late August has gone viral. In the video, DeFrancesco shows up at the hotel with the What Cheer? Brigade, a 19-piece brass band for which he plays trumpet.
"I've worked in this hotel ... for three and a half years," DeFrancesco says at the start of the video. "I'm going to go and quit right now with the help of my bandmates."
DeFrancesco then waves the group through what appears to be a back door, and they wait giddily in the hallway for DeFrancesco's boss to appear. When he arrives to see unwelcome guests, the boss shouts, "All of you out, now!"
DeFrancesco, clearly relishing the moment, hands over his letter of resignation, which the boss declines to take. DeFrancesco drops it at his feet.
"I'm here to tell you that I'm quitting," DeFrancesco says with a smile.
And with that, the band kicks in, marching out of the hotel with stadium-like fanfare. DeFrancesco walks away with his hands aloft like a champion.
The Renaissance is a Marriott property that's operated by a franchisee, according to Jeff Flaherty, a Marriott spokesman. He says that the company is aware of the video, and he confirms that the hotel in the video is in fact the Renaissance. But he notes that the company couldn't comment on DeFrancesco's gripes since it doesn't actually run the hotel.
"It's certainly an interesting way for someone to choose to tender his resignation," Flaherty says.
DeFrancesco says that he worked at the hotel during a hard-fought unionization drive that he supported. According to news reports, workers at the Renaissance voted to join a union a little over a year and a half ago. The workers eventually became members of the service and hotel union UNITE HERE, but DeFrancesco stresses that he was acting on his own behalf and without union approval when he tendered his resignation.
One of the main reasons the workforce had decided to unionize was scheduling issues; they would sometimes get out late at night and have to return for the early-morning shift, just a few hours later. Yet while a lot of benefits came out of joining UNITE HERE -- most notably, raises -- DeFrancesco also says the union push was a bitter one that strained relations between management and rank-and-file workers. He claims that he lost many of the shifts he'd previously had, which is one reason he'd decided to part ways and capture it on video.
Angelo De Peri, general manager at the hotel, confirms that DeFrancesco resigned in late August. As for DeFrancesco's claims that he and others weren't treated well, De Peri says in an email that the hotel is a "rewarding place to work for all employees.... "We take the health and satisfaction of our employees very seriously, and creating a sense of community and pride within the hotel is a top priority for us."
DeFrancesco says he's been overwhelmed by the response to the video, which, as of this writing, has racked up more than a million YouTube views.
"I thought it would just embarrass the boss, but now it's all over the world and it's insane," he says. DeFrancesco says he's been contacted by various television news outlets -- and earlier this week he wound up being interviewed by a German newspaper about the state of American unions.
While some YouTube commenters have knocked him for his gall, the vast majority seem to applaud him for it, no doubt living vicariously through the moment.
Typical of the comments: "Joey is a hero to those who have wanted to quit like this but don't have the balls."
DeFrancesco partly attributes the response to the video to the dismal state of the economy. He believes that bosses of all kinds have been using the downturn as an excuse to expect more out of workers for less.
Those who are lucky enough to actually have jobs, he says, "are getting shit on so much, because people are using the recession to slash everything." The video exploded because "people have this fantasy of [quitting] like that."
DeFrancesco has already landed safely at another gig. Though he won't disclose where he's working, he says it's a job that lets him use his degree in history, which he earned from Rhode Island College while working at the hotel.
The most rewarding response to the video has come from his former co-workers, all of whom loved it, he says. One of them recently sent him a text message.
"You've had quite an effect on productivity at the hotel," it read.